Students at Saint Michael’s College got a unique opportunity Monday to work with an artist and activist who lives near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Together they made wooden crosses that will be used to memorialize migrants who’ve died after crossing the border.

The sound of nails being hammered into wood could be heard throughout the student center as a couple dozen students crafted works of art that will help carry on the memories of lost lives.

Leading the workshop was Alvaro Enciso, an artist and activist from Tucson, Arizona, less than 100 miles from border with Mexico.

 “You’re making an object that may be for honoring someone, or maybe to bring attention to a situation,” Alvaro Enciso, who has been working on a project he calls “Donde Mueren Los Sueños,” which means “where dreams die.”

He builds and erects wooden crosses to memorialize the thousands of migrants who’ve died in the desert after crossing the border, many of whom remain unidentified.

Enciso was at Saint Michael’s as part of his mission to spread the word about the hardships faced by migrants.

“It’s sort of a symbolic thing to bring attention to the situation that very few people know about it,” he said. “This is the audience that I want to reach, the students, the future of this country you know.

“These are the people who are going to make the change needed to come up with a good solution to the immigration crisis that we have now.”

The students crafted miniature crosses for their own campus memorials, as well as a few for Enciso to bring back to Arizona.

“It’s easy to dehumanize groups and populations in this area, and it is important to remind us that they are humans and that they deserve to be safe and get their basic needs met,” said Jenna Walker, a senior at Saint Michael’s. “We’re just trying to honor them and bring it to our campus to raise awareness.”

The Northeast may be more than 2,500 miles from the Mexico border, but the immigration crisis is felt here too. Border patrol agents along the Canadian border have seen a huge increase in migrants attempting to cross into the U.S.

That’s why the students who helped make the crosses Monday say it’s important to remember to treat people with kindness, especially those migrating here in search of better lives.

“It is at our front door,” said Jenna Walker, “and it is very important to make sure that we’re respecting everyone and bringing peace and initiating peace.”