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On the Ground with Andrea: Acclimating to Life in Yuma

Andrea Pérez Balderrama

  It was late June and I was sitting in my car with my dad. All of my possessions were crammed in the back seat of my sedan as we drove through rural Utah, and I was trying to use cell data to connect to a work call. The signal was spotty, but I was able to say at least a few words during the meeting.  


As we made our way to Yuma, the world outside of our car was facing unprecedented  challenges. A global pandemic, an economic crisis and people taking to the streets to protest police brutality. As for me, I had recently cleaned out my closet in preparation for my move to the U.S. - Mexico border to take my first reporting assignment here in Yuma.  


I grew up along the border, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, used to the desert heat, so I thought I knew what to expect from Yuma in terms of climate. But I was wrong. As we unpacked my car to move my things into my apartment, my parents and I had to take breaks from the sun; we were getting dehydrated faster than we expected.  


For them, it was their first time moving me into an apartment they couldn’t visit often, as they could during my college years. For me, moving to Yuma was the first step toward my dream of becoming a journalist covering immigration and the Latinx community. 


The first time I heard of Report for America was when Angie, a young reporter in the newsroom I was working at the time, mentioned the organization and encouraged me to apply. I went through the process and was selected to work for KAWC here in Yuma. 


The first event I went to in person was President Trump's visit. I talked to Yuma residents about their views on the President and watched, alongside hundreds of people in their vehicles, Air Force One become visible on the horizon and land at the airport across the street. Even though it was over 100 degrees outside, that is a moment I will never forget.  


These last few months have been challenging, but I have learned a lot about myself and the community. There are countless stories to tell about the people who live in Yuma year round, and those who come here and stay only for periods of time. 


My time here in Yuma will be spent uncovering those stories, particularly those of the Latinx migrant workers and residents of Yuma County, with respect and enthusiasm. I am interested in connecting with anyone who has tips or topics, or simply wants to chat about these issues.  


Don’t hesitate to contact me! 

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