With a population of 23,000 Nogales, Arizona is a small border town, rich in culture, caring communities and loving people. A city influenced by its neighbor, Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, it is truly a place where both cultures are mixed and have become one. However, the only thing separating the town is a tall wall carried for hundreds of miles throughout. A wall that is visible to the human eye, but almost forgotten when teaching one morals and values.
Not only does Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona share the same name, but the history between the towns is what has made Nogales, Arizona what it is today. It is a place highly influenced by the Mexican culture and is apparent when visiting the city. A bilingual place that can easily accommodate residents from either country.
Older buildings such as Sacred Heart Parish, the Nogales Public Library, and the Nogales City Court house are still standing. Although it may not be a beautiful city with amazing site-seeing locations, there are numerous buildings that have stood for decades. Most natives can pass stories to their children and visitors to educate them on the history the structures hold. In these structures, there are many Spanish, Mexican and Native American influences. They are a site to see.
Many people can only hear stories about poverty that occurs in third world countries. Nogales residents experience first hand from a very young age the struggles that every day life can bring to a citizen from a third world country. As you can imagine, seeing this first hand can greatly humble a person; it does. I have experienced this growing up in Nogales, Arizona. From a young age, I spent numerous hours in orphanages in Mexico, time at local churches and charity events. Every time I went back was an eye opening experience, but as a resident, you must contribute. This is the attitude most “Nogalians” share. The cohesiveness and support of the community is so powerful. It is the community that has raised many children to care, hold up one another and give back.
I will never forget the time my seven-year-old cousin was in a life threatening car accident. My aunt and uncle were unable to work at the time as they spent months at the hospital with her. The community came together, had fundraisers and were able to help raise money for my family to cover hospital bills. This story is not uncommon in Nogales, as people know they can always count on each other in very difficult situations.
The people from Nogales are so unique. Most people share the same core values influenced by Hispanic morals. Honor the elderly, your parents and family. In Nogales, family can sometimes be classified as your neighbor or even a good friend. People are more than willing to reach out a helping hand and welcome outsiders with open arms. The economy is not a wealthy one but rich in morals. People in Nogales live a simple life and they cherish the time that is spent with family.
Nogales is very sheltered in the sense that many people are not exposed to the dangers of larger cities. Growing up there taught me a lot about the person that I am. As a member of the metropolitan Phoenix area now, I may not always know my way around town. However, I have brought with me a solid foundation that was built by my family, community and neighbors from Nogales, Mexico. To me that is priceless and I couldn’t have done it without Nogales. I will say, I am biased in the sense that I take pride in my hometown but I feel that I would never be the person I am today without a place like Nogales, Arizona.