Although it is rarely reported by a news media that too often focuses on the contentious, sometimes vitriolic relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, there are many ways in which individuals in these two countries are actually coming together every day in an effort to accomplish shared goals. One of the most prominent examples of this is the way schools, universities, and educational authorities are reaching across the border in an effort to promote binational learning.
Throughout the past half century, as individuals have migrated back and forth between Mexico and the U.S., the children of these migrants have often faced difficulties as students due to their shifting location in two separate educational systems. This is why in 1976 the state of California in cooperation with the Mexican Secretary of Public Education created the Binational Migrant Education Initiative, an effort to better educate this particular group of students. In addition to providing binational students with transfer documents so that they can attend schools on the opposite side of the border, BMEI also focuses on teaching Mexican and U.S.-American educators to better reach these students. The successful program has now spread to other border states as well.
In addition to these binational efforts to better educate migrant children, there are also many on both sides of the border promoting study abroad programs that enable students to enrich their educations by learning in a neighboring land. The University of Arizona has a variety of special binational programs, which enable both U.S.-American and Mexican students to study together on both sides of the border. In addition, several U.S. universities such as Augsburg in Minnesota operate international education sites in Mexico, where U.S. students can go to attend special programs. At schools such as Augsburg’s Center for Global Education in Cuernavaca, U.S. students can learn Spanish, but also study Mexican history, culture, politics and society.
Tucson houses one organization in particular that has since 1988 been at the forefront of the movement for binational education, the international educational institute Borderlinks. At Borderlinks, which operates sites in both Arizona and Sonora, students come from throughout the country to learn about the unique border region. The immersion programs offered by Borderlinks provide students with a one-of-a-kind glimpse at life on both sides of the border, but they also illuminate the many ways in which individuals and organizations are working together, across the fence.
As our two countries inevitably become increasingly intertwined in our globalized world, it is inevitable that more and more individuals will seek out ways to learn in and about their neighboring nation. Those working today to provide students with binational educational opportunities are at the forefront of what is increasingly becoming the global field of education.
This is the third in a five part series of articles discussing the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. View additional parts here: part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5.