ENMU students attend border conference workshop

Alisa Boswell

Michael Martinez’ group at a student workshop, which focused on problems along the U.S./Mexico border, created a drug awareness commercial with the slogan, “When you’re chillin’, you’re killin.’”

Each time the man in the commercial took a “drag” off his marijuana joint, the sounds of gunfire and explosions would go off.

“What we wanted to do was raise awareness,” said Martinez, one of four Eastern New Mexico University students who attended the Jornadas Fronterizas Border in Austin, Texas. “A lot of people here who use illegal drugs don’t understand the repercussions or what it’s funding in other countries.”

The purpose of the workshop, which included 40 students from U.S. universities and 40 students from Mexico universities, was to discuss problems occurring along the border and how it affects both countries, then to develop solutions to the problems in order to get young minds thinking about how they can help the drug problem in the U.S. and Mexico.

Among the other things ENMU students learned were many of negative stereotypes about violence in Mexico are untrue and that young teenagers are the most influenced by the drug cartels because they feel they have no other options. Also, that 40,000 people have died as a result of the U.S./Mexico border violence, most of which is drug related.

Martinez and fellow ENMU student Alan Kinlund asked the Mexican students in their group how much power they thought drug cartels had in Mexico on a scale from 1 to 10.

“Without hesitation, at least six or seven of them at once said, ‘11,’” Martinez said.

“Once we would come up with a solution of how to combat drugs, we would run into another problem, like corruption,” Kinlund added.

“What I liked was that we didn’t just come up with solutions as a whole but solutions for our own communities,” added ENMU student attendee Shelby Ellis.

Ellis said her group at the conference focused on illegal immigration and what makes people do it and how people can help with it.

“There was so much to discuss it was hard to condense it down into that amount of time,” Ellis said. “One of the best things I took from the situation was the meeting of diverse minds and seeing things from the point of view of a different country is really interesting and opens up your mind to things you wouldn’t have thought of before.”

Martinez said his group was comprised mostly of students from Mexico and discussed border security and violence.

“The fact that we had so many bright minds together discussing problems and solutions was inspiring and I left feeling like we had actually accomplished something,” Martinez said. “There was so much to learn and I learned a lot. The Mexican friends I made shared a lot. But it’s not just that I learned a lot but it changed the way I think too.”

The four students said they are now in the process of planning a campaign to create drug awareness by creating a student organization devoted to the topic.