Philanthropist Saul Flores shares ‘Walk of the Immigrants’ project

Flores will be speaking in Hargreaves 201 from 5-7 p.m. today


Saul Flores laughs for the camera. Flores traveled throughout Latin America, walking over 5,238 miles, to raise awareness for Latin American immigrants. | Courtesy of Saul Flores

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

To raise awareness for immigrants from Latin America and their journeys into the United States, Saul Flores chose to walk 5,328 miles in their shoes.

Flores, philanthropist and public speaker, will be at EWU on Oct. 17 to share his project the “Walk of the Immigrants.” Flores committed to this project during his junior year of college in May 2010. He embarked on a three month journey through 10 countries in Latin America. A big inspiration behind the “Walk of the Immigrants” was “essentially the suffocation and frustration” immigrant communities in the United States experience.

“I quickly realized a lot of American communities don’t really understand why immigrants are coming to the United States or understand how hard it is to leave behind your home communities,” Flores said. “By making these journeys across Latin America, to really risk it all and sacrifice everything to come to the United States.”

Flores walked from Ecuador to his home in North Carolina documenting the entire journey. He took photographs of people, architecture, culture and food to be used as an introduction to the Latin American lifestyle for his project.

Initially, Flores did not intend for the trip to take as long as it did. In fact, the original route he had plotted was supposed to be about 2,000 miles.

“Just with the complexities of that in Latin American terrains and regions I ended up having to take a lot of detours and change travel nearly on a daily basis,” Flores said. “Which made my journey a little bit longer.”

A dotted trail of the 5,328 mile route that Flores took when walking for his project “Walk of the Immigrants.” Flores will be showcasing his project at EWU on Oct. 17. | Courtesy of Molly Renda

What made this project most humbling for Flores was that no preparation went into the journey.

“When I started the ‘Walk of the Immigrants,’ I very much started with this romantic idea of what immigrating means and it’s probably the same romantic expectation that immigrants have when they began their walks or their journeys,” Flores said. “It wasn’t until you come across very difficult situations that you realize no, this is actually very hard.”

Out of responsibility for encouraging the growth of his community and helping the people he loves within that community, Flores is overcoming his fear of speaking by traveling around the United States and sharing this project.

“It’s because of what’s happening in the political climate, it’s out of fear and there’s a lot of frustration within all communities across America.” Flores said. “So, the reason I jumped into speaking was essentially to use those stories to alleviate that tension. Not necessarily to have a very politically-driven conversation but to use the power of story to broaden perspectives and to evoke empathy within people.”

On top of traveling the United States and speaking in front of many crowds, Flores is shooting a documentary called “LoveWalk,” that highlights the story of immigrants that head north, much like his immigrant mother and school kids from Atencingo, Mexico.

A meet and greet with Flores will be hosted on EWU’s campus in Monroe 207 from noon – 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Flores will be speaking in Hargreaves 201 from 5-7 p.m. For more information on “LoveWalk” and the “Walk of the Immigrants” projects, visit their Facebook pages.

“I would love people to come out as supporters of the immigrant community,” Flores said. “Having people really open their minds and hearts to those stories is what I hope to accomplish.”