About the author
Zach Sparks is an aspiring journalist with interests in a multitude of different areas including news, human interest stories and sports. A student at Towson University, he currently holds an internship at a public relations and advertising firm in Owings Mills where he writes and distributes press releases for several local non-profit organizations among other duties. He hopes to graduate in the fall of 2012 and parlay his experiences and education as a student into a successful writing career.
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The voyage of a teenage boy through the epicenter of Mexican gang activity to find his mother in the United States has been captured in words by award-winning author Sonia Nazario.
Nazario is scheduled to speak at Towson University Wednesday at 7 p.m. and give students a glimpse into the book.
The story follows 16-year-old Enrique as he sets out to find his mother Lourdes 11 years after she leaves Honduras to find work in the states.
The only way for him to make it to the United States and avoid immigration authorities is to jump on and off of moving boxcars called El Tren de la Muerte or the train of death.
“The trip up here is grueling,” said Lea Ramsdell, associate professor of Spanish at Towson University. “A great majority of the women are raped.”
Many of the migrants trying to make the trip are robbed or killed by gangsters. Most of them are young men coming from many countries including Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala in an attempt to reunite with their mothers.
“It used to be the men who would leave,” Ramsdell said. “In the last twelve to fifteen years, the mothers are coming up from Central America. Most of these women are single mothers. They are not able to support their families. That is why they make the difficult decision to leave their children. They come here to the United States illegally and they leave their kids behind.”
It took Enrique nine times before he made it to the United States. He was captured and deported several times by the immigration police also called “la migra.”
Enrique began his quest with only his mother’s North Carolina telephone number. Nazario followed Enrique through the entire ordeal to reunite with his mother.
“Sonia did the same thing,” Ramsdell said. She rode the train.”
Nazario is currently traveling around the country to talk about her book and present a resolution to the problem.
“Her idea is to create jobs in their home country so they don’t have to make the trip in the first place,” Ramsdell said.
Enrique’s Journey has become required reading among many middle schools and high schools across the nation.
Sonia Nazario has spent over 20 years covering social issues most recently for the Los Angeles Times.
Enrique’s Journey has won more than a dozen awards including the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. Nazaio also won the George Polk award for international reporting.