San Juan, TX
Type of Service
Site Leader Description #1
Julia is a third-year from Richmond, VA majoring in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law and minoring in WGS. She is so stoked to lead this year’s trip to San Juan (arguably the best trip ASB has to offer) with the one and only Aidan Doud, especially after having such an eye-opening and humbling experience on the same trip this past year. Julia is also involved in First Year Players, the University Guide Service, Pi Beta Phi, and the Women’s Center at UVA, but you can usually find her rewatching Glee with her roommates, sending TikToks to Aidan, going for runs around Cville, or waitressing at the Pigeon Hole. She can’t wait to go back to San Juan and learn alongside eight new friends! Join! Our! Trip! We will purchase a pair of cowboy boots for every participant. We will tap you into a secret society if you come to San Juan with us. We will play “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” at the top of every hour for the entirety of the trip. Don’t miss out.
Site Leader Description #2
Aidan is a second-year from Lothian, MD and plans to study Economics and Spanish. In 2020, he traveled to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park in California to do environmental work with ASB and the National Parks Service. He just had to switch over from an Environmental trip to Human Services to be able to share the site-leading experience with the renowned and esteemed Julia Paraiso. Outside of ASB, Aidan is an RA, and is also active with the University Guide Service, Honor Committee, and Phi Delta Theta. You can always find Julia and him at Take It Away absolutely wrecking a sandwich with house dressing. As the self-proclaimed most fun site leaders of 2021, we guarantee the best week of your life, and yes we do mean even more fun than Aidan’s Summer 2020 home quarantine when his Mom called the fire department because her dog couch alarm went off (join our trip to hear the full story, thank you). Cowboy hats mandatory. Individual square dancing showcases will be required and the weakest performer will be left at home.
We will be leaving Charlottesville the evening of Friday, March 8th to stay at Julia’s home in Richmond for the night, and then depart for our flight to Texas on the morning of Saturday, March 9th. We’ll be flying out of the Richmond Airport, catching a layover, then landing in San Antonio where we will rent a van and drive approximately 3 ½ hours to San Juan. In San Juan, we will be staying in an amazing AirBnB that is relatively close to all of our volunteering and touring activities.
A typical day on the trip would be an early group breakfast, packing a lunch for the day, volunteering with our service partner, Proyecto Azteca, and then having the evening to explore the area. We’ll end each day with a fun dinner, games, and a little debrief to talk about how fun the day was! Each participant will get the opportunity to cook dinner in pairs, and we will also budget to enjoy a few authentic Mexican meals in local restaurants. We plan to leave San Juan early on Saturday, March 13th, spend a couple hours exploring San Antonio before our flight, then landing in Richmond. Then, we’ll carpool back to Charlottesville and be home by Saturday evening.
Though there are no specific requirements for this trip, participants should be adaptable to new situations and communities, eager to learn and serve, and excited to bond with our group and other volunteers we meet! Any Spanish language abilities would be very helpful, but we ultimately want participants to be open-minded and team-oriented.
Our main site contact throughout the trip will be Proyecto Azteca, a self-help construction organization which serves low-income families in colonias as well as neighboring communities in Hidalgo County. Our work with Proyecto Azteca will allow us to get our hands dirty through home construction while also teaching us about the community’s history and ongoing needs. We’ll also spend a day working with World Central Kitchen to help make food for vulnerable populations living at the Matamoros refugee camp across the border. Lastly, we hope to work with Team Brownsville, an organization which seeks to assist asylum seekers at the Brownsville/Matamoros international bridge.
We’ll also have smaller learning opportunities interspersed throughout our service activities, including a walking tour of the border, (hopefully) observing hearings at the McAllen Federal Misdemeanor Court, and interacting with members of the community through soup kitchens and one-on-one interactions.
After a jam-packed day of service learning, we’ll also be exploring the San Juan/McAllen area which has a ton to offer. Some past favorites include the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge which has several walking trails and rope bridges and the McAllen Nature Center which offers yoga classes and relaxing nature trails. We can also explore local flea markets, the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, salsa dancing clubs, bowling alleys, a super old carnival which Aidan and I are desperate to see, and maybe even a rodeo! We’ll also stop off in San Antonio to explore before returning back to Virginia.
Our work in Texas will mainly take place in two areas: San Juan and Brownsville. San Juan is a city within Hidalgo County, TX, located about ten miles away from the US-Mexico border. In the past couple years, it has become one of the most common locations for illegal border crossings. Hidalgo County is also home to several colonias which historically have inadequate access to decent housing, infrastructure, electricity, and paved roads. Brownsville, TX is the southernmost US border town with Mexico, located extremely close to the Matamoros camp. We will be learning about the border issues in both locations and engaging with community members and our service partners to learn as much as possible in our time in Texas!