In the 1990's, Gilbert El was involved in an incredible program called Hands Across the Border. It was an exchange program between us and a school in Nacozari, Sonora. Each year, we would take around 25 4th, 5th and 6th graders for three days to visit. The Nacozari kids would then come up to Gilbert.
After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, it became increasingly difficult to continue this wonderful program. Because of the attacks, new requirements were instituted for people from other countries coming into the U.S. I totally understand why that was done, but it became cost prohibitive for our Sonoran friends to obtain the necessary paperwork to get their visas. As a result, we had to stop participating in HATB. That was a sad decision that had to be made. I loved this program because of what it taught our children, not just the ones who traveled, but our whole school when the kids from Nacozari came to visit Gilbert El. It was a total school community event.
Hands Across the Border was a joint effort of the states of Arizona and Sonora and many schools throughout Arizona participated. I do not believe that it is in existence anymore because of the requirements.
One of our wonderful parents who went with us one of the years, Roni Vikwr Kortuem-Ross, painted a picture of the church by the school. I believe we gave it to them one year when we were down there. I always loved the picture and she made this copy for me. My photo doesn't do it justice! Thank you, Roni!!