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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Enrique's Journey Reflection Questions

Northern Arizona University - Enrique's Journey Reader Guide, Discussion Questions
  • How did Sonia Nazario write this book?  Examine the author’s background.  What about her background gives her empathy for her characters?
Sonia Nazario wrote this book after her own embark on the journey from Honduras through Mexico in order to better relate to immigrants who make this trip every year. 
Her family is from Argentina and she understands the transition in immigrant families. 

  • What trends in immigration did she show?
Nazario reveals the high trends of mothers and children who migrate north to the United States.  Mothers, desperately and sadly, decide to leave their children behind with relatives in order to make a better living in the United States with hopes of sending their children money for food and education, and material items that they wouldn't receive normally.  The children migrate north, looking for their mothers with the question, "Does my mother still love me".  The material things and money their mothers send to them does not compare to the physical and emotional motherly love they missed for years. 
  • What is Enrique’s living situation before and after his mother leaves?  How does he feel after his mother leaves? Does this compare to any emotions you have ever felt?
Before Enrique's mother, Lourdes, leaves, they are living in a single mother household.  Lourdes has never been able to buy her kids toys and fears they won't be able to finish grade school.  When she leaves, Enrique and his sister, Belky, move homes quite a bit between their biological father, his mother and their maternal grandmother.  Enrique feels abandoned after his mother leaves and there is not much that satisfies him.  He thinks of his mother all the time.  Enrique's emotions start getting the best of him as he gets into drugs and bad behavior.  I couldn't begin to feel empathy for Enrique and couldn't imagine what this would be like.  Any separation between my mother and I has been by my decision (Going to college) and I still am fortunate to have phone contact.  My mother was able to fund my education, food, material needs and give me physical and emotional love all through childhood.  I never had to separate love or money.  I feel very blessed, even though this is relatively more common the United States to be close with a mother.  
  • What negative habits does Enrique develop in his mother’s absence?  How does this compare to negative habits that college students adapt when separated from their families?
As mentioned above, Enrique begins to involve himself in drugs and negative behaviors after his mother migrates north. This is an interesting question about comparing to US college students.  I feel that Enrique was adapting because of a void and found comfort in negative activities.  After my college experience, it seems that some rambunctious freshmen students engage in "negative" behaviors such as drinking because they feel they have an opportunity now that their 'hovering mother' isn't around to stop them - it's more in spite of "rules" than filling a void. There is hope of growing out of those behaviors and becoming a mature young adult.  In Enrique's case, his drug addiction and negative behaviors are a lifestyle that is hard to come out of because he's lived with the void for over 10 years.
  • What happens to Enrique on his journey?
Enrique has many uphill battles while on his journey through Mexico.  He faces Chiapas, which is the "beast" of southern Mexico.  He battles bandits who rob him, immigration check points with corrupt police.  
  • What are the attitude of many Mexicans toward Enrique and other Central Americans immigrants?  How does this compare to US attitudes?
Due to a few migrants who engage in negative and harmful acts along their journey, Mexicans that live near the train that migrates north have a skeptical view of the migrants from Latin America.  They create a dangerous environment and are associated with crime.  This to me was very interesting and I realized, people look down in away or lose trust with the group that lives south.  Americans don't always trust the stereotype of Mexicans (south) and Mexicans don't always trust the actions of migrants from Latin and South America.  
  • What often is the attitude of the police with whom Enrique has encounters?  Is this justified?
This was one of the more disappointing aspects of reading about Enrique's Journey.  The police were corrupt and didn't help in fighting crime on the trains.  Their main goal was getting illegal immigrants from Latin America back to their home country.  They were hostile in how they handled the immigrants and offered no help. I feel the need for a safe environment and trying to keep the illegal crime rate down, but sometimes it was a question of who the police were after.

  • What is the primary mode of travel for immigrants passing through Mexico?
According to the descriptions of Sonia Nazario, migrants will ride the train up through mexico.  Riding on top makes the trip go a lot quicker than by foot!  It is a very, very long journey that takes months. 

  • How does Enrique cross the border?
Enrique crosses the border through the Rio Grande with the help of a well known coyote, "El Tiríndaro". He keeps his close in a plastic bag and crosses in only his undergarments. He uses a black inner tube and carefully waits for the lights and trucks of the American Border patrol to pass him in the darkness. As soon as he reaches land, there is an SUV, driven by El Tiríndaro's smuggling network, that drives Enrique towards Dallas.
  • The author says that immigration is “a powerful stream, one that can only be addressed at its source.” What is the meaning of this statement?
After reading this book, I realize the issues and debates of immigration from the American side, are at the tail end of an immigrant's journey!  They have dedicated months to migrating through Mexico, the least of their worries is crossing the border.  I agree with Nazario that in order to "solve" the immigration problems in the US, in Mexico and even in Latin America, we need to start at the source: the home countries.  From the reading, I found that mothers and children don't want to migrate north, they have to so they can give their children a good life.  If we could focus on the economy, education and opportunities in Latin America, we could help those immigrants and allow them to stay in their home country.  Right now, the US is focusing on the multi-million dollar WALL that is right on the border.  This is an enormous amount of money that can be spent in more effective ways.  One method to help these developing countries is through Micro-Lending.  This is a loan given to the citizens of a certain country, that allows them to start up their own business and make money.  This not only helps their individual families, but jump starts the economy.  Also, if we can help the education system, citizens could attend school past the 3rd or 4th grade and help themselves and future families. 

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