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Student Projects

La Llaga: Border Project

Author: Marisol Franco

Grades: 10th, 9th

Subject: Spanish

Candle light display for border project
Project display for border project
Boy standing in front of wall with crosses.
Student painting in class

Students explore the reasons why people choose to risk their lives in the attempt to enter the United States illegally.  Students will assume the role of one of those individuals and create a fictionalized account of their journey to the United States.

A couple of miles after crossing the U.S./Mexico border and entering Tijuana through Otay Mesa, one is struck by the hundreds of white crosses that line the Mexican side of the border wall.  Each cross bears the name (and oftentimes the age and origin) of people (mainly of Mexican origin) who have died while attempting to cross into the United States illegally.  Names have been stripped away and replaced by more recent casualties of what has been dubbed “La llaga” or the wound.  These crosses not only serve as a visual reminder of the lengths to which people will go to achieve the “American dream,” but they also stand as an homage to each individual that they represent.
Students will recreate this portion of the border wall and in so doing, will explore the reasons why people choose to risk their lives to enter the United States illegally.  Students will assume the identity of one of the countless people that have died at the border and will write a fictionalized narrative that explains what could have driven that particular person to risk his/her life.

The border will be created by the class as a whole, with each student being a part of one of the following 3 departments:

1. Border construction: Creates crosses and paints the border replica.

2. Día de los Muertos: Creates altar and Día de los Muertos decorations to accompany the border.

3. Exhibition Preparation and Management: Maintains timeline and organizes presentation (skit) during the exhibition itself.  This department is also responsible for creating a recording of students reading the names of the immigrants being honored.

  • How do people deal with death?
  • What are people willing to die for? Why?
  • What pushes people to risk their life and attempt to enter the United States illegally?
  • A visual representation of that “thing” that each student would be willing to die for.  This will be placed on the South side of the border in a paper bag.  A similar bag will be placed on the opposite side for their chosen person.
  • A fictionalized 3rd-person description in Spanish of a person who has died while attempting to enter the U.S.  The description should include an explanation of why this person chose to attempt crossing the border. Each student will choose a name from those listed on the white crosses on the border wall in Tijuana.
  • A class-created collective art piece of that “thing” that their chosen people died for.
  • A Día de los Muertos altar to honor the unidentified immigrant.  This altar should include traditional items and include the art piece created by the class.
  • A replica of “La llaga”, including crosses that bear the names of those that have died in their attempt to cross the U.S./Mexico border.
  • Students will use the verb “ser” to provide a description of personality, appearance and origin.
  • Students will use regular verbs in the present tense to describe basic actions.
  • Students will describe likes and dislikes in Spanish.
  • Students will explore and discuss the reasons for illegal immigration into the United States.
  • Students will research different regions of Mexico and determine why people from those regions leave for the U.S.
  • Students will analyze Día de los Muertos as a celebration of life through death.
What is on the other side of your border?
Sketch of Visual Representation #1
Introduction to project (choose name of deceased immigrant)
What and why is illegal immigration?
Grammar: Introduction to basic verb conjugation in the present
Visualize and research chosen person (region, fictionalized description)
What is Día de los Muertos?
Draft 1 of fictionalized description
Grammar: Continued practice with verb conjugation
Draft 2 of fictionalized description
Create Visual Representation #1
Assign exhibition roles
Begin construction of border wall
Begin creation of class-created art piece
Begin creating Día de los Muertos decorations (papel picado and flowers) and altar
SEMANA 4 Exhibition on Thursday
Final draft of fictionalized description
Practice exhibition roles
Complete construction and decoration of border wall
Complete class-created art piece