I have been an adjunct professor at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) for about 8 months. It's not something I tell people, not because I hate my students or hate the job.. it's quite the opposite really. I find that being an educator is the most humbling and rewarding experience of my life thus far. I've packed a lot into these 32yrs, but I never thought I would be a teacher. I've had the privilege of sitting in classrooms of Professors I look up to and admire that today are friends and mentors. I've always loved school, I love academic achievements, they are my favorite kind. I value this profession greatly. I just never thought I would do it. Because as an artist I've always thought this is how I will make my living; as an artist. Selling my stories, being commissioned for stories etc etc.. making enough money with the work that I do.
I committed to being a photojournalist 100% at the age of 28. Before than, I had jumped in and out, dabbled here and there, always claimed photographer and story teller, but I wasn't all in. It's been 4yrs since I've been all in. It's hard, It's really hard, being a creative will make you cry a lot but sometimes, most times, if you really want it, it doesn't matter.. it's worth it. I think the fact that I'm still doing this past 30, means I'm here to stay. *Anis Mojgani, says it best.. from his poem HERE AM I:
"..Using his sharpie tip writing:
I was here
I was here, mothafucka
And ain't none of y'all can write that in the spot that I just wrote it in.."
He's eluding to something being made concrete. He's solidifying lost memories / nostalgia from his youth. He's claiming ownership on his life as its seen by others and himself in a permanent way. And that resonates with me. I am a photojournalist.. I am just beginning the work. The fact that I am a professor does not take away from the fact that I am a photojournalist. For a long time, until today actually; with the help of a homie; I was able to understand that..
You see, the reason I haven't told most people that know me that I'm a professor is because saying it, makes me feel like less of an artist. Makes me feel like a sell out in many ways. But I know very well that more than one identity can live inside of me at all times.
So yeah, I'm Adriana and I'm an adjunct professor at TAMIU and this is a project that I did with my favorite class (yes we have favorites - don't believe us when we say we don't). I shot these portraits and interviewed the subjects 2 weeks ago. Some publications ran this story last week but they left out many of the students, so I've decided to post the whole thing here with everybody included and a write up by me ^_^
• • •
//// BORDER YOUTH ////
The Mexico-United States border is an international boundry running from the pacific edge of California, USA / Tijuana, Mexico to the South West edges of Texas, USA / Matamoros, Mexico. This boundry is a literal wall through most of the variaty of the terrain it traverses. Except for in specific areas of Texas. What we have in many border towns of Texas is a borderless border. In the sense that, there is no barred wall that keeps one from entering; it is simply a river that separates two nations: The Rio Grande. From one side of the river you can see into Mexico and wave at those washing their clothes by the river banks. They are two countries side by sidesharing resources, commerce, travel, work and more. But, if you dare cross, you are at risk ofbeing shot by Border Patrol.
Laredo is located on the north bank of the Rio Grande in South Texas, across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Laredo and Nuevo Laredo are sister cities. They share the same name because they share the culture and the recourses as well as the people. After all, Laredo is 96% Latino. It is a fast growing city, said to be the fourth highest populated border town in the US. It is a major import/export city with more than a billion dollars worth of commerce moving across the USA and Mexico daily. Laredo has no barred wall. Trump wants to change that. When you hear him talking about building a wall, he is specifically speaking about the Texas border, because California already has a wall, it is Texas that proposes the "problem".
Worldwide more homes have been invaded and barricaded because of a wall. Talk of a wall in this town is everywhere and the fear is felt throughout the city. It seems we are at the edge of something violent and chaotic. The media coverage of immigration and the wall is pervasive as it repeats Trumps agenda. But in these bordertowns live the communities that will potentially feel these changes on all levels of their lives.
I am a photojournalist and adjunct professor at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and these are some of my students. What will happen to them in the coming months could shift the direction of their lives. These are their thoughts and views on what is happening right now and how it effects their daily lives and the things that matter to them most.