Liberation Theology Class Reflects on U.S.-Mexico ‘Borderlands’
Nogales, Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona, sit roughly an hour apart – the same distance as Bethlehem and Philadelphia – sharing a locale Kelly Denton-Borhaug, associate professor of religious studies, calls “a very perilous part of the desert.”
As students in Denton-Borhaug’s Religion 255: Liberation Theology course learned this past semester, the “Borderlands” region faces issues far greater than intense heat and drought-like conditions.
During a spring break trip in March, a group of Moravian students accompanied Denton-Borhaug and Sarah White ’11 to the U.S.-Mexico border to delve into questions of theology and immigration.
“In this class, we studied ‘liberation theology,’ a kind of Christian thinking that attempts to rethink Christianity through the eyes of people who often have been marginalized, or made invisible by dominant structures and practices,” explained Denton-Borhaug, who co-directs the College’s Peace and Justice Studies minor. “In this case, we studied Christian thinking about the realities of the ‘Borderlands.’”
This region serves as the backdrop for extensive migrant movement, and “a place where there is a lot of death occurring, separation of families, and intense human need,” Denton-Borhaug said.
(The trip) can only be described as life changing."
– Ashley Liriano ’16
In reflection of their March trip and classroom studies, students in the Liberation Theology course hosted an evening of dinner and conversation, titled “Borderland,” in early April in the Reeves Afterwords Café. Through their poster exhibition, the students hoped to share what they learned about migration realities at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ashley Liriano ’16, called her experience at the border undeniably dramatic. “It can only be described as life changing,” said the sociology major. “I have become more educated, open minded, but also more grateful of the opportunities I have in my life.”
The poster presentations reconfirmed with Liriano a need to better educate those in the campus community – and broader community – of the struggles and strife facing the Borderlands. The sophomore strongly urges others to consider enrolling in the course and the trip.
“To a fellow student, I would say that it’s an interesting class, and, yes, the trip is probably the best part, but it’s so much more,” Liriano said. “Dr. Denton-Borhaug is also quite the professor to work with, and if you enjoy studying many aspects together – political science, economics, sociology, religion, etc. – this is the class to take.”
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