Yon MoyaIt all started with a group text.Yonathan Moya ’10 and his six siblings, who all attended Bethel, were discussing their feelings about Mexican culture and immigrants in January.
“We’re a first-generation Mexican family,” said Moya, a liberal arts major, who was born in Mexico, but migrated with his family to south Texas in the early 1990s. “All of us felt really weighed down, and I threw an idea out there and said: I wonder what it would be like if people that have never been to the border … actually had a conversation with someone there.”
Within a month, Moya, along with his brother, Jordan, set off for a nine-day photographic journey along the U.S.-Mexican border to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. They titled their trip “Border Perspective.”

“I think as storytellers, we have the ability to connect people to others, and that’s what I wanted to do with Border Perspective,” said Moya about sharing the story through photography.

Moya felt that if they could humanize the people they met on the border, connections could be made with the people in their Midwestern states of Indiana and Minnesota.
The two met all sorts of people – from an elderly gentleman who works in cornfields every summer in Elkhart, to a little league team in El Paso that plays in fields right along the border, to a retired nurse who washes the feet of the immigrants weekly.
Through the trip, Moya perceived that people choose to live a normal life in these violent, heavily surveilled areas. He also gathered from his experience that amidst an increase in crime, a change he noted from his days growing up along the border, there are those who empathize with the immigrant population.
“People have the same compassion for the immigrant as maybe people [in the Midwest] have for the homeless,” said Moya.
Although Border Perspective isn’t the typical mission trip, the desire to connectand serve those in need was instilled in Moya at Bethel. He first went on a Hong Kong taskforce trip and later a Hurricane Katrina task force trip in Louisiana. He then began volunteering with the non-profit Experience Mission, where he now works as the Regional Coordinator.
And it was the Missionary Church that brought Moya to Bethel in the first place.
“My dad literally sent me away to Bethel because of the history and experience that he had [as a pastor] with the Missionary Church,” he said.
Moya also developed a passion for photography in a digital photography class at Bethel, a passion he translated into Border Perspective by putting together a mini-documentary of the trip. Eventually, the brothers plan to host gallery-installments in Minneapolis, Minn., showcasing the stories and photos of the experience.

While the trip had a finite life, Moya knows nine days wasn’t enough to tell all the stories of the people who span the length of the border.
“I feel now that we could spend nine days in just one place along the border,” said Moya.

Despite the emotional toll the trip has taken on him, Moya and his brother are planning to return to the border within the next year.

“God is demanding more and more love and a balanced view and perspective of me,” said Moya. “I think this trip kicked that off in a very healthy way.”

Here are a few photos taken on the border perspective trip and posted on Instagram, with abridged captions. To get the full perspective, visit Instagram.com/BorderPerspective, or find them on Instagram – @BorderPerspective.

Border Perspective-3

While in San Juan, Texas, we came upon a group of about 100 marchers. It wasn’t a protest march but a 40th anniversary of Texas Farmworkers March for Human Rights celebration.

“We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us,” Janet, A Member of the Tohono O’odham Tribe, explained. When the Gadsden Purchase was made, the tribe was divided. “My mom’s house stayed on the Mexican side and the rest of my family stayed on the U.S. side,” she said. As more border regulations are implemented, Janet and her family members find it more difficult to visit each other across a divided land.

Border Perspective-Mariachi

Mariachi is a musical expression that dates back to at least 18th century Western Mexico. Today, Mariachi music is taught at local schools in border towns all over South Texas.