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In the week before the start of the Spring 2018 semester, 14 students from the Eastern Kentucky University Honors Program spent five days studying life on both sides of the border wall that divides the cities of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico. The trip, part of EKU Honors’ innovative “Sidewalk U.” program, was headed by EKU sociology professor Dr. Elizabeth Underwood and English professor Dr. Thomas Butler.

On their first day on the Mexican side of the wall, students visited a shelter at which they interviewed migrants who had recently been deported from the United States. The students also had the opportunity to work with and serve lunch to a group of children at a community center in one of Nogales, Mexico’s poorest neighborhoods. On the second day on the Mexican side, the students visited a local factory and learned about the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on border communities. They also visited with fellow college students at Nogales Technological University.

On the Arizona side, the itinerary included a two-hour visit with Arizona’s only Latino sheriff, who shared with the students his memories of how border life had changed through his 50-year career in law enforcement in Nogales and Santa Cruz County, Arizona. The students also visited the nearby Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation and learned about the impact of border issues on relations between tribal authorities and the U.S. federal government.

EKU’s distinctive “Sidewalk U.” experiential learning courses are supported by EKU Honors Program alumni, who have established through their donations an endowment to subsidize the costs of running these study-away programs each year. The generosity of the honors alumni helps keep the cost of the trips very affordable for current EKU Honors program students.

The EKU Honors Program students on this trip included: Calvin Andries, Whittney Brookshire, Lucy Burkhart, Sylvia Carter, Tristan Colpitts, Kristen Dean, Lauren Fuller, Megan Garrison, Thomas Hudson, Ciara Sandefur, Samantha Tamplin, Alexandra Wertz, Lisa Wier, and Cassie Woosley.