9 Excursions, Retreats and Road Trips

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A moment of sheer happiness at the Grand Canyon. 

On the road again.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is making music with my friends.
And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
On the road again.
Goin’ places that I’ve never been.
Seein’ things that I may never see again.
And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
– Willie Nelson

Weekly excursions and road trips to the Grand Canyon, Yavapai College, the Borderlands and Monument Valley provided a balance of fun, learning and professional and cultural exchange.

Reflection Question: Share your most valuable reflection from the Humphrey Wednesday excursions or other road trips and retreats.

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On a Wednesday excursion, fellows visit the Musical Instrument Museum.

I always liked and appreciated how host organizations were open to share their experiences with us. Derya Kaya

One of the things I have experienced with my fellows, which impacted me on a deeper level, was watching the Sochi Olympics’ opening ceremony at Yavapai College in Prescott. All of us got together in the auditorium and there were people from the Prescott community who came to watch the event on the screen. Once the Olympic squads started making appearances, we all started cheering for the teams of our home countries and for the American squad. We were clapping, blowing whistles and cheering for the teams. That was the day when I, for the first time, realized what it might feel like to be a global leader. Because for the first time in my life I could connect with the world beyond Pakistan because I cheered for every team just like I cheered for Pakistan and I wish them the same success. It felt like I became a bigger person in a sense that up until that point I was a person from one country and then suddenly I became a person who belonged to many countries in the world and not just one country. It was mesmerizing. Hina Ali

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In a unique global cultural exchange, the fellows meet students of Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. 

A student from Yavapai College’s Honors Program, Taylor Hayne, made an entry in her reflective journal about the Humphrey Fellows’ visit in September. Reading her thoughts made me appreciate the impact of our community outreach, exchange and dialogue:

“I definitely thought that the best thing I have participated in while at Yavapai College was our visit with the Humphrey Fellows. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this event, but it ended up being more than I could’ve hoped. Meeting with people from all over the world opened my eyes to different perspectives, ideas and opinions that many people never have the chance to experience. Our discussion was fascinating and I learned more about the situation in Syria than I knew before. I loved hearing from people who lived in the Middle East and have experienced the Arab Spring firsthand. I also was interested in hearing their opinions about the United States. It isn’t every day that you hear a foreigner’s honest opinion about the U.S.’ role in global affairs. There is nothing like civil discourse between people of incredibly different backgrounds and cultures; I realized that we’re not all that different from each other and with conversation and collaboration, I believe that my generation will be able to solve many of the problems that our world is currently facing. Because of this, I am now considering a career that involves education abroad, possibly with the State Department. I loved how well everyone got along, even when discussing controversial topics.”

Rhonda Jaipaul-O’Garro

Excursions have been great overall. We have visited several organisations and I really liked our interaction with the Yavapai students. Fernando Aguilar

Our trip to the border city Nogales, between Arizona and Mexico, was amazing. It has a unique flavor. Among the great experiences, it was interesting to know how U.S. puts an effort stop border crime allegedly done by the Mexicans. There were numerous tunnels that the border patrol sealed with cement. At the same time, the crossings are open to regular citizens who would come to shop in the U.S. I also thought it was interesting that the majority of vegetables as well as other crops come to the U.S. from Mexico. Wahida Ifat

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Borderlands trip with visiting fellows from Minnesota and international teachers. Photo Credit: Deana Dent

The U.S.-Mexican border is famous for being one of the most dangerous places to visit in the U.S. But the story of the border is much bigger than the story of cartels, drugs and illegal immigrants. Here, a few of the facts I learned when I visited the border in March 2014:

  • 60 percent of fresh winter produce in the U.S. comes from Mexico and most of it crosses from the Nogales border crossing.
  • The Nogales border crossing is one of the most active border checkpoints of the U.S.-Mexican border. Many Americans also cross the border, sometimes illegally, and these are often criminals who opt to live in Mexico to avoid legal action in the U.S.
  • Hundreds and thousands of Mexicans come to the U.S. to shop and they spend millions of dollars, generating business for many big stores here. These people come to the U.S. with special visas and return to their homes within 24 hours.
  • The U.S.-Mexican border reminded me of Gaza, the border between Palestine and Israel. In the area we visited, the border wall was made of iron planks and went at least 12 feet high and at least as deep. But according to Christina Almeida, a representative of the U.S. Consulate General in Nogales even these extreme measures cannot completely stop border crossings.
  • There are people who have been living on the U.S. side of the border illegally for generations. Their legal status works as double-edged sword when they become victims of crimes because they cannot report the perpetrators to the authorities for fear of being deported to Mexico. Hina Ali
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A mystic moment at the year-end retreat at the Monument valley. Photo Credit: Deana Dent

A trip to Monument Valley surpassed my expectations. Besides enjoying the incredible work of nature, the thing that made the trip even more precious was participating in traditional Navajo butterfly dance around an open fire. I could almost not believe where I was – having dinner somewhere in the valley and dancing with Indians. This was one of the stories I must share upon return to my home country. Maja Cakarun

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On a Wednesday excursion to the Arizona Diamonbacks baseball team, fellows met with Josh Rawitch, senior vice president for communications.

Humphrey Excursions
12 News/KPNX-TV, Azcentral.com, The Arizona Republic
Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits
Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona Science Center
ASU Library
ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation
City of Phoenix
Eight, Arizona PBS
Heard Museum
Kitchen Sink Studios
McCain Institute for International Leadership
McMurry/TMG
Musical Instrument Museum
Native Health
Newseum
SocialWhirled
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance
Voice of America
Washington Post

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