McAllen has already surprised our team in many ways. First, we were greeted by plam trees and warm weather after a cloudy flight. We settled in to St. Peter’s, our home base for the week. Not only have we experienced hospitality within the school and our community partner, Alyssa; we have experienced the work of an immigrant assistance program. It was incredible to see how many people are served within a small community. I did not fully understand the process of immigration, the difficulties of getting into the country, separation of family members, detention centers, the role of the cartel and coyotes, and sponsors. It was a truly remarkable experience to work directly with families that traversed the Rio Grande. Though they have been through so much to reach this point and thought they have such a challenging journey ahead, they have maintained incredible spirit. Despite all the hardship, these families were able to smile. We played such a small part in there journey but we witnessed the beginning of a fresh start in the US – a shower, soup, clean clothes, toiletries and a backpack, a nap in a cot. We fumbled with our limited spanish language skills to assist families to the best of our ability. All we could say as they left to catch their buses was “buena suerte.” I hope these people and the many families we did not have the pleasure of meeting can find peace and happiness. I am eager to move forward with service – to meet students and faculty of IDEA schools and uncover how the issues of immigration and education coalesce here in McAllen.