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 University, Community Come Together to Plant “Seeds of Hope”

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BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 14, 2009 More than 350 people symbolically planted hope during an event commemorating The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College’s border security agreement reached last year with the federal government.

Volunteers from the campus and the community dug in the dirt to plant 300 budding Carolina Jasmine vines that now line the campus security fence that was built in lieu of the originally proposed 18-foot border wall.

“We took charge of like nine plants,” said Eduardo Galindo, a student and member of the UTB/TSC Communication Council who attended the “Planting Seeds of Hope” event. “I think this was a really good thing because this looks way better than what was supposed to go up. I’m glad we could be a part of this because it’s our university and to be able to give back in this way is great.”

Community groups from both sides of the border also turned out to support the university, displaying the relationship between sister cities on both sides of the border.

“This is a wonderful idea,” said Maria Melida Buentello, a member of the Club Rotario Matamoros Profesional. “We are sister cities so anything that happens here also effects us and I think these types of events and us working together will teach the rest of the U.S. that is better to have peace and work together.”

Working alongside the Rotarians of Matamoros were members of the Rotary Club of Brownsville Sunrise.

“It is always great to beautify something not so great in my opinion,” said John Herrera, a Rotarian of 22 years. “The rotary is an international club so it makes sense to do things like this in the community and I think it shows the spirit of cooperation.”

UTB/TSC President Dr. Juliet V. Garcia thanked supporters for their role in the university’s deal with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and for their efforts to beautify the fence.

“Today we plant vines and seeds of hope,” she said. “A hope your nation will strengthen its core values. Thank you for the role you played the past year. It was not an easy stance to take.”

Keppel AmFELS, a ship, barge and offshore drilling rig designer and builder at the Port of Brownsville, donated $3,000 for the jasmine that was planted during the event.

“I think this is just a small thing Keppel AmFELS can do for the community,” said G.S. Tan, the company’s President and CEO. “We were very touched by the efforts of everyone here. This is an example of what has made America so successful for so long.”

After the planting, many volunteers also participated in the Day of Campus Service by cleaning up along University Boulevard from International Boulevard to the Veterans International Bridge, or from the Recreation, Education and Kinesiology Center to the observatory.

UTB/TSC and the federal government agreed in July 2008 on plans for an already existing security fence to be upgraded in lieu of a 18-foot high border wall that would have sliced through the Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course.

The $1.04 million, 10-foot high fence complements the natural landscape on the campus’ southern edge near the levee bordering the Rio Grande. The fence features technological security equipment and will eventually be covered with vines and wildflowers. The fence was built by Construction Rent-A-Fence of Thrall, Texas.


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