After elected as Governor for Women’s Council of REALTORS® , the only thing my husband told me was that there was no way over his dead body that I would go to Brownsville. Shortly after that I found out that indeed Brownsville was in my area. And yes, I waited a long time before I left my husband know about it. He feared for my safety and honestly had me a little scared as I have never been to the area before. Everything that I had ever heard about the area was always negative. Despite being very nervous, I headed out on my journey.
As I arrived at the Harlingen Airport, I found it not too scary despite the immigration people. Marie, the Local Chapter President, picked me up from the airport and she took me on a quick tour of Harlingen before we headed to Brownsville. As a very suburban raised person that has never experienced anything like it, I found myself soaking up the culture. I was amazed by the beauty…and the colors. There were some of the most amazing murals I have ever seen in my life. The drive was a good 45 minutes and had a nice opportunity to get to know Marie better. She grew up in Harlingen on a 40 acre farm. She recalled going to school and having to learn English. Then she would go home where she had to speak Spanish. Her father spoke English too, but her mom only spoke Spanish. I could not imagine living like that and how hard it must have been to learn one language at school and yet not being able to practice at home. We discussed many things like the culture, housing in the area and Mexico.
Upon arrival in Brownsville, I immediately attended their Governing Board meeting.
Immediately after the Governing Board, they had their Business Luncheon. I was asked to speak. My topic was very fun to prepare, but even better to deliver. I spoke on “7 Steps to Become An Online Marketing Genius”. I found the group to be over the top seeking education. Their poor hands could not write fast enough. After the meeting, I was again surprised. There was an overwhelming response. As I noted before the meeting, no one would approach me….but after, they wouldn’t leave my side. I certainly do not attribute it to me. I am not an educator or comedian by nature, so I know it was the material. I liken the people in attendance to a sponge because they were soaking up the knowledge. This was definitely something that I was not accustomed to at all. In my area, there is lots of great education and you practically have to have a gimmick to get people to attend. Maybe I was going to fit in with the Border towns more than I thought.
I was also surprised by the locals attention to hospitality. They were very interested in making me feel at home. The one thing I requested to do while here was to see the border. I am not sure why, but it REALLY intrigues me. This request brought some immeditate attention. I was surprised to find that most people asked me why. A huge number of the locals expressed that they never cross the border. I was told that the border truly was a dangerous place. One mentioned that there had been some kind of grenade thrown towards the United States recently and how it had been kept so quiet that the news did not even report about it. By this time, I was even more nervous than before, but we proceeded to head towards the border for me to see it.
The first thing I noted was oh my goodness….we were SO close. And yes, I was VERY scared and yet it was something I had to do. I was amazed to see a sign stating Mexican Law on U.S. soil. And I still cannot wrap my head around that one.
We proceeded toward the border, and yes my heart was pounding. As we drove around the block there was a Border Patrol car is the strangest place. And Marie educated me that people really do try to swim across the river. Many are caught, but in no way are they all. She informed me that there are many people smuggled into the U.S. and that in fact it was a big business. The immigrants would pay $1200 per person to be brought into the US. A strange notion to consider as I was at the border. It was definitely strange to look at. With people walking across, etc. Now granted we were still a really good distance away. Yes, I was in awe and the mother in me came out. If I had this “enlightening” experience at 30, wouldn’t it be great to show my kids. I thought it was a good idea at the time. As we were turning past the bridge to drive away I tried to take a picture of the bridge. Apparently this is against the rules or something. I had no clue and I have lived in Texas my entire life. The border patrol yelled at me “NOOOOOOOO Pictures”. By now, I only thought my heart was pounding. (Ok. Stop laughing) So, if you are wondering…you cannot take a picture of the bridge. Which again makes no sense to me because you can Google Earth it!? If this was a matter of National Security, why can you Google it? My attempted picture was 150+ feet away and yet there is Google? I am definitely 1000% for National Security, but again it was odd.
I promise that I am not the only one that did not know about the rule. The shocks and laughs poured out through Twitter and FaceBook the rest of the day.
The day was a lot of me stepping out of my comfort zone and a lot of mentoring which is completely my comfort zone. I have always heard that being Governor is the best possible WCR position. And, I have to say I agree. Many experiences I will never forget. I would be remised if I did not thank Women’s Council of REALTORS® for pushing me out of my comfort zone