I have just one day until I leave the country. I flew back to San Francisco to say goodbye to family and close friends before taking off to Argentina. I am making sure I have all the materials I need (luggage, clothes, my sanity) and bidding farewell to some of my favorite spots and restaurants in the city. It’s been a sweet and sad past two weeks and I have been trying to document it all.
My bittersweet moments, however, have been undercut by current events happening here in the United States prior to my departure. The weekend I flew in there had just been protests at SFO against the recent travel ban on Muslim countries. The following Saturday there was a march on the travel ban, Just two weeks prior I had attended the Women’s March in Minneapolis which was also an act of resistance against the Trump administration.
It has become abundantly clear to me that I am leaving my country at a pivotal moment, the beginning of 4 long years of political unrest, and I am unsure of what our country’s future will look like.
More selfishly, I am also unsure if I will be able to see what our future will look like. Within the first 11 days of presidency, and two weeks prior to my departure, Donald placed limitations on international travel. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has prohibited the enforcement of the ban while its legality is being debated but the extreme travel restrictions are still on the table for the future. In the short time that the ban was enforced, I had already read and heard numerous accounts of people unable to see family, unable to return to the U.S., and even unable to secure proper medical treatment due to being stranded abroad.
Especially after hearing the accounts of others, I feel immense guilt for worrying about my own situation and ability to return to the United States as a white-passing U.S. citizen traveling to Argentina, a country that currently does not seem to be on the radar of the president. Yet I still worry as the daughter of a Salvadoran immigrant who fought against a U.S. aided military and the daughter of a U.S. citizen who aided those fighting against and those fleeing from the same military. I worry as someone who has assisted in the Standing Rock protests and is close friends with someone heavily involved in Standing Rock who could be labeled “eco-terrorist” by the coorporate oligarchy. I worry about my last name. I worry about changes in foreign policies with all Latin American countries, not just Mexico.
But I worry more about what I will not be able to protect when I am abroad. I worry about my father, who wants to visit and is a U.S. citizen but, as a shirt he owns so nicely puts it, “only looks illegal.” I am concerned about my Muslim friends and POC brothers and sisters. I fear for my queer community. I dread the possibility that I will come back and have to ask what rights I have lost in my time away. I can only hope that I will not have to ask where certain friends have gone or why they are no longer at school with us. I worry that, in my absence, I will have failed those I swore to take care of, those I promised to support.
I can only hope to return with the ability to rejoin the resistance when I return and keep those here inspired to fight while I am away. For now, I’ll remember my home as it was before and mentally preserve the peace and serenity left in the Bay Area before the turmoil to come. With these memories, hopefully I can find inspiration to fight for what I love and for my home when I return.
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<p>Amanda Landaverde is a 20 year-old Spanish and Psychology student at Gustavus Adolphus College who aims for a career in neuroscience studying generational trauma. In her free time, Amanda likes to creatively illuminate and counteract social injustice through art, writing, and performance with her social justice theatre troupe on campus.</p>