It is believed that something magical happens at border regions, which is a result of the border itself.
Samantha Mata Robles, an engineering student at The University of Arizona from the Arizona-Sonora region describes it, "it is as if you'd enter a place of collaboration, richness, and diversity that goes way beyond speaking a different language".
For Sam, the idea of crossing boundaries extends far beyond the geographic U.S.-Mexico border to include boundaries between ideologies, cultures, and experiences. Boundaries can also be emotional and psychological. Sam remarks that based on her experience, these boundaries aren't always within one same, established, community (like the U.S., Mexico, or a borderland state) but from communities that are born due to external factors and a sense of belonging, like the borderlands.
More Borderlanders Are Better Para Nuestro Mundo
Rachel Lozano Castro often refers to herself as a “borderlander”, having spent most of her adult life in the San Diego-Tijuana region. Her work is at the intersection of the inclusive economic growth, innovation and public service.
Rachel has this theory that’s checked out pretty well in the world she exists:
Anyone who builds things or leads people “in-between” is able to handle conflict, manage a diversity of perspectives and beliefs, and visualize these differences as a source of organizational richness and strength.
The way she sees it, borderlanders (fronterizos in Spanish) often have extensive business and social networks, loads of relational capital and often embrace growth mindset, win-win approaches and are comfortable with ambiguity and articulate with nuance.
Rachel refers to the theory of, threshold learning which explains that people learn through disruptive experiences. Over time, they learn to integrate and be from both sides, reconstructing their understanding of reality with new inputs. It draws from a concept of “liminal space”- crossing as if through a rite of passage with a clear distinction between the way of seeing “before” and “after”.
Her understanding of living in between also draws from the concept of third spaces -- neither home nor work or school. These are spaces to explore, and third culture people, people not from here or there, but from here and there.
Rachel believes this approach is more needed now than ever and hopes that these ideas help spark discussion for others and motivate leaders across spaces to consider how they can be changemakers in the “in-between.”
According to Sam, this can be seen as a consequence of the negative connotation governments and people have put into the borderlands. Rather than viewing it as a zone rich in so many things with the capacity to teach us and contribute to the improvement of our current reality, they use the border to separate and determine who's an enemy.
This is a dangerous perspective, as it damages how people from these areas are seen and how their homes are perceived. It even gets to a point in which governments and local people work to impose policies to keep "illegal people" out of their territories, which messes up the social system and community developed. This has severe consequences in a person's identity and their core community, which can then lead to problems in their sense of self and pride in their roots; caused by the internalization of all those negatives things they keep hearing about their communities.
The passionate engineer student also mentions that it is important to keep in mind that being able to describe the U.S.-Mexico borderland is never going to be possible for a number of reasons, like the fact that it changes over time, and all these changes have contributed to making it the complex reality that it is. But mainly because everyone experiences this reality in a different way and it has a different meaning for the people based on these experiences.
Samantha is a firm believer that greater diversity creates greater and better outcomes. People in the borderland areas are a great example of diversity, resilience and capacity; making them great profiles to become changemakers. That mixed with the perspectives you develop in a multicultural area plus the passion and love towards a project or a cause, make the perfect recipe for success.
The Borderlander Manifesto
See borders everywhere. Cross them. Invite others across contigo. Live frontera-bending experiences. Cuenta que pasa. Tell your story. Collect experiences. Toma muchas selfies. Take risks to meet people. Creavity no tiene zipcode. Crossing is learning. Cruzar es aprender. Grow more borderlanders. More borderlanders are better para nuestro mundo.
Feeling inspired by what you see, "take a pledge" or "make a connection" related to innovation across borders at www.livinginbetween.org.
About the Authors and Graphic Designer:
RACHEL LOZANO CASTRO is a San Diego-Tijuana borderlander who spends lots of weekends and work trips in Mexico. During the workweek, she helps entrepreneurs get started and funded at University of San Diego. When she’s not doing that, she eats good food with good friends in good places.
Follow Rachel on Instagram @transfronterista or www.livinginbetween.org
SAMANTHA MATA ROBLES is a Sonora-Arizona borderlander, born and raised in Sonora, Mexico and currently studying her Bachelors in Biomedical Engineering in Tucson, Arizona. Credited with the Earth Grant at the University of Arizona who is now interning with Startup Unidos.
ALEJANDRA CAÑEDO is a Sonora-Arizona borderlander and Industrial Designer from Hermosillo, Sonora, who grew up with a bicultural education and an insatiable curiosity for learning. She thrives in process-focused storytelling, human-centered design, communication sciences, multimedia edition, empathetic graphic design, and sustainability. She displays her love for nature by documenting her gardening journey, learning new skills such as flower pressing and composting, and teaching her dog how to talk through alternative communication.