Expectations from the Perspective of German-New Mexican Duality and Identity


By Meagan Lashway, NMSU (MA Government) 

Many of my thoughts towards the Munich trip root directly to my upbringing and experience of living in southern New Mexico.  My step-dad was a soldier in the German Air Force, and was stationed to Alamogordo, New Mexico- a little city in the Tularosa Basin right at the foot of the Sacramento Mountains, and known regionally for White Sands, pistachios, and a fascinating space museum. In this little city, you will likely hear English, Spanish and German spoken every day. Because of Alamogordo’s small, but sizeable German population, there is a German school for children of German soldiers, a few German shops and companies, and once a year in the fall a large Oktoberfest celebration on the base. This little city has always allowed me to retain a piece of my German culture and identity while growing up in southern New Mexico- a place very unlike anything you’d see in Germany.  

In college, I found a passion for education and social justice. I took a summer service-learning class and did some volunteer and research work for groups that advocate for rights along the U.S-Mexico Border. I got to speak with students, parents, and community members and learn about immigration and social justice issues that many of my fellow New Mexicans new as a daily part of their life. The following semester, I was an intern for the ACLU Regional Center for Border Rights, and one of my tasks was to record and document human rights abuses that occurred in Southern New Mexico, particularly instances involving immigration issues and discrimination. Upon graduation, I taught 8th grade history for two years in Chaparral, New Mexico. Most of my students were either Mexican immigrants or first and second-generation Mexican-Americans who come from a vibrant culture along the U.S-Mexico border. The highly-contested political issues surrounding immigration and identity are a daily part of their life.


My life experience tells me not to hold onto any expectations, but to rather analyze my experiences. Although I value my experiences in working in living in an area that is home to immigrants and refugees, I will also enter Munich with through a lens of privilege. What I may know as a multicultural American who studies issues along the U.S-Mexico border may contrast deeply with the NGO work I will participate in while in Munich. I am there to learn, and sometimes it is important to leave your expectations and what you think you know at the door.  I want to be open, respectful and willing to learn from the perspective of those whose lives are most affected by migration issues. Nonetheless, I am extremely excited to be a part of this group, and learn through field experience in working with issues I care deeply about while being in my other home country. 

Comments

  1. Meagan - what a beautiful post! Thank you for your thoughtful perceptive and eloquent expression of your thoughts. I am especially struck with your first sentence of the last paragraph - I too often find myself building up expectations when I know better - wunderbar reminder/advice on expectation...especially as we continue through this course on migration, immigrants, and refugees in Munich.

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