I simply wanted to notify you all that I will be late to the Guilfordian News Meeting tonight. There’s a peaceful march advocating for the protection of DACA happening in downtown Greensboro in an hour and I want to be able to cover it and take photographs. I will do my best to return early. I hope to see you all towards the end of tonight’s meeting!
All the best,
Fernando Jimenez” - Email sent to The Guilfordian staff on Monday, September 4, 2017.
Prioritization is not my strongest skill. I have the bad habit of acting on impulse when something is significant to me. This semester I have done a decent job at meeting deadlines for most of my classes and submitting my photographs and articles for the newspaper on time. However, when it comes to the class that gives me the most freedom (My environmental studies course: The Cape Fear River Seminar,) I seem to have fallen behind on my assignments because I am encouraged to be creative. The deadlines are flexible. The assignments are flexible. The questions I need to answer are flexible. So why am I struggling on the one course that is giving me the most flexibility?
Today, Wednesday Sept. 27, 2017, I showed up late to class and walked in on my classmates and the professor having a discussion. The dialogue began after our professor, Maia Dery, posed the following question: How does your final project combine one of your deep joys with one of the world’s deep needs?
Minutes after I arrived, the class decided to go outside and continue the conversation at a gazebo located in front of Founders Hall. I listened to the final projects that my classmates are working on which consisted of scientific research projects and various studies around the Cape Fear River Basin. As someone who is not very proficient in the sciences, I failed to see how I could combine photojournalism to my studies around the Cape Fear River Basin and water. Eventually, it was my turn to share what my final project would be.
“If I understand the question correctly, I have to combine one of my passions to a need in the world, correct?” I asked.
“Tell me what you like to do in your free time and tell me what you’re passionate about. Your interests will be connected to the Cape Fear River one way or another,” said Dery.
I stopped and wondered, how do I connect photojournalism to science? When it comes to time management, I have prioritized writing articles in the Guilfordian explaining the current situation regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because it is important for the Guilford community to be aware of current events affecting the immigrant community.
Feeling hungry, sleep deprived and not really knowing if what I was about to say was going to make sense, I decided to be vulnerable for a moment and share with my class an important issue that has been on my mind all semester.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also known as DACA, has transformed the lives of nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants by opening the doors to better paying jobs. DACA recipients have been able to contribute about $1.2 billion in tax revenue to the economy, without fear of deportation. President Donald Trump ordered an end to the DACA program on Tuesday, Sept. 5 through an announcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Christina Gallegos, first-year student at Elon university, marched through downtown Greensboro wrapped in the United States flag to stand in solidarity with DACA recipients. // Fernando Jiménez/The Guilfordian
Changing demographics and the rapidly growing immigrant population make North Carolina the seventh state with the highest number of young immigrants protected under DACA. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein decided to join a multi-state lawsuit that would protect the 27,000 DACA recipients living in this state.
“I have stayed up late and neglected assignments because this campus needs to know that the decision to rescind the DACA program will be damaging to young college students and individuals you know from the community,” I explained.
“Even if I do not mean to cover a story around DACA, the topic is highlighted everywhere I go. The last story I covered was the Latinx Heritage Banquet organized by Hispanos Unidos de Guilford (HUG) which took place on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2017 at the Carnegie Hall in Hege Library. Laura Garduño García, local activist and DACA recipient from the Triad, served as the event’s keynote speaker. Her speech emphasized the importance of protecting DACA while advocating for a more inclusive, permanent solution that can benefit immigrants of all ages," I continued.
“When you think of a DREAMer, you shouldn’t think of me,” said García towards the end of the banquet. “You should think of my grandfather that continues to dream at 70 years old.”
Laura Garduño García walks behind children holding signs reading “Defend DACA, Keep Families Together” towards LeBaur park where the march advocating for the protection of the DACA program concluded. // Fernando Jiménez/The Guilfordian
As I continued to explain to the class why it was so important to protect DACA, I stated, “I am not sure how
I will connect this to water or the Cape Fear River Basin.”
At that point, I could not speak any longer… my throat was dry, I was dehydrated.
“Please give me one second, I need some water…” I said quietly. At that point, three of my classmates offered their bottles of water to me.
According to Brian M. Fagan’s book Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind, “Water is the principal constituent of all living organisms, making up 65 percent of human bodies.” As I took Sam’s bottle and began drinking its contents, I realized that there was no way that water did not play a part in everything we do.
“You are looking at the world through DACA colored lenses. That is a good angle,” stated my professor. "Now you have to figure out how you can craft a story around this issue and create a sustainable practice with your work in photojournalism."
This class session allowed me to realize that DACA recipients are located across the Cape Fear River
Basin and my ongoing story is more connected to the class than what I realized. I also thought about my personal health and how my current behaviors can become damaging habits in the future. I also began to reflect about the class trips I have had so far in the semester and started connecting my notes to issues surrounding the immigrant community in North Carolina.
After all, Brian Fagan’s book connects water to the history of the civilizations that have existed and emphasizes that the societies that have lasted the longest have treated water with respect, as an elixir of life, as a gift from the gods. In fact, the end of the preface itself makes the audience question how much they truly value water. And as I sat on the side of the gazebo and drank from Sam’s bottle, I felt grateful to have been able to hydrate myself in order to continue speaking about one of my passions.
I was appreciative to be experiencing that moment.