Walking 5,328 miles in their shoes: Saul Flores’ Walk of the Immigrants


Mercedes Johnson

Saul Flores came to speak as a part of Winona State University’s Expanding Perspectives series on Oct. 12 in the Science Laboratory Center.

Erich Schweitzer, News Reporter

Over the course of three months, Saul Flores walked 5,328 miles through Latin America to get to the United States. Saul, however, was not an immigrant, he is already a U.S. citizen.

On Wednesday, Oct. 13, Winona State University hosted Saul Flores to share with students his experience of walking from Ecuador to El Paso, Texas, so he could document the journeys of actual immigrants who come to the U.S.

Flores is the son of immigrants; his mother came to the United States to escape poverty in Mexico and his father fled from a civil war in El Salvador.

Growing up and seeing how hard his parents worked to provide for him and his little sister, Flores knows what he is saying when he told students that “being an immigrant in this country is really hard.”

In college, Flores travelled to his mother’s hometown of Atencingo, Mexico. After learning their small elementary school was going to be shut down, forcing many of the children to go without education, Flores decided to act.

“In an unexpecting place, I discovered a community I was meant to serve,” Flores told those in assembly.

This is what lead Flores in his “walk of the immigrants.” Flores’ plan was to walk through Latin America to the U.S., taking pictures along the way documenting the lives of the people there and their journeys of immigration which he would sell later to raise funds for his mother’s hometown elementary school.

Flores shared these stories with the students at Winona State. He told students about the people he met along the way, such as Felipe who tried to help him through the Darian Gap or the indigenous people who helped him get to Panama.

These people, as well as many others Flores met along the way, he described as “the backbone of Latin America.”

Flores showed students the pictures of the school which had been rebuilt thanks to the money from selling his photographs. Specifically, he showed a photograph of the school children singing the Mexican national anthem, which he said made the whole trip worth it.

Flores said that the experience “transformed my perspective on migration.”

Flores described his journey through Latin America where he documented the journeys of actual immigrants who came to the U.S. Along the way, Flores assisted children struggling with their education being cut off and found community throughout the various countries he visited. (Mercedes Johnson)

This seems fitting as Flores’ talk was part of the Expanding Perspectives Series, put on by Winona State’s Office of Equity and Inclusive Excellence.

This series is coordinated by Yeejsuab Nahla Lee, the Intercultural & Completion Coordinator for the Office of Equity and Inclusive Excellence.

Nahla said that Flores had reached out to her back in spring about doing his talk at Winona State.

Nahla saw this event as “an opportunity for folks to expand their perspectives and learn about the lived experiences and the realities of immigrants and children of immigrants.”

Some students who attended the event were the children of immigrants.

As Winona State is a diverse campus, Nahla hoped that the students who attended the event would become more aware of “the variety of experiences and cultures in our community.”

The Office of Equity and Inclusive Excellence will continue to host speakers like Flores in the future as Nahla stated that “it’s important that we create spaces for people to tell their stories and create learning opportunities for our campus community.”