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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about walls. I know it’s also a topic that comes up for a lot of folks during their YAV years. I’ve been in Tucson for the last three weeks volunteering at Border Links, which is a long-standing YAV site placement. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to drive to Nogales with a delegation group from Border Links and see the wall on the US/Mexico border that divides the trans-national city of Nogales in half. One woman who lived on the US side but is from Mexico said that before the wall, there would be parties and festivals in the streets of Nogales and everyone–from Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico–would celebrate together.

I had heard about the wall during my time in Guatemala and Nashville from many people who had tried to cross the desert into the US, to varying degrees of success. I know the YAVs in Belfast also see and think a lot about the wall there and how it divides communities, marking boundaries between “us” and “them” in the same way that the wall on the US/Mexico border does. I’m sure there are other walls and physical boundaries in other YAV sites that delineate divisions between people and groups.

It made me think, too, about the invisible walls between groups of people and communities as well as individuals, walls that mark the limitations of opportunities and relationships and access to resources. One of the things that my experiences as a YAV revealed to me were the presence of some of these walls that I had not been able to see previously and the notion that there are many other walls to which I am still oblivious but am called to see and dismantle in myself, my relationships, my community. These walls inhibit the hospitality we are called to show and receive.

What are some of the walls you experienced or became aware of as a YAV? What walls in our post-YAV communities and lives are we more aware of now than we would have been otherwise? How can we begin to dismantle some of the existing walls in our lives, relationships, and communities?