Student Projects

Envisioning a Future for the San Diego / Tijuana Border Region

Authors: Ernesto Orozco Jr., Maria-Elena Valenzuela

Grade: 10th

Subjects: Humanities, Spanish

How does the border affect the lives of people in the San Diego/Tijuana region? How do people who live in the San Diego/Tijuana region envision the future?

This project addresses the intersection between identity formation, the border, and the ways in which the historical, political, social, and cultural experiences of the border communities inform and are informed by the border. This project aims to

  • Bring a global perspective to local issues
  • Position student identities within a global framework
  • Develop empathy for the diverse people and perspectives of the communities within San Diego & Tijuana

In this project, 10th grade students explored the ways in which the border affects the lives of the communities of San Diego and Tijuana by focusing on first person narratives, acquired through the interview process. Students learned professional skills through this process by corresponding with community members who work towards addressing a specific issue, formulating interview questions, conducting interviews, and maintaining communication with their interviewees. Students explored the history of the border region, as well as, a historical, cultural, social, and political context for current issues facing the communities in this border region.

  • Family Interview and Presentation of Interview Results
  • Research Paper on topic and/or issue related to the San Diego/Tijuana border region
  • Correspondence with identified organization/person
  • Interview notes and summary
  • Final project proposal
  • Final project deliverable for exhibition

ACTFL Standards (Spanish Language Development):

  • Development of 5 C’s
    • Communication: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3
    • Culture: 2.1, 2.2
    • Connection: 3.1, 3.2
    • Comparison: 4.1, 4.2
      Communities: 5.1, 5.2
  • Development of language proficiency using the 3 communicative modes: Interpretive, Interpersonal, Presentational

History and Social Studies Standards

  • 2. List the principles of the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights (1689), the American Declaration of Independence (1776), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789), and the U.S. Bill of Rights (1791).
  • 3. Describe the growth of population, rural to urban migration, and growth of cities associated with the Industrial Revolution.
  • 4. Trace the evolution of work and labor, including the demise of the slave trade and the effects of immigration, mining and manufacturing, division of labor, and the union movement.
  • 5. Understand the connections among natural resources, entrepreneurship, labor, and capital in an industrial economy.
  • 4 Students analyze patterns of global change
  • 10 Students analyze instances of nation-building in the contemporary world
    • Understand the challenges in the regions, including their geopolitical, cultural, military, and economic significance and the international relationships in which they are involved.
    • Describe the recent history of the regions, including political divisions and systems, key leaders,, natural features, resources, and population patterns.
    • Discuss the important trends in the regions today and whether they appear to serve the cause of individual freedom and democracy
  • 11 Students analyze the integration of countries into the world economy and the information, technological, and communications revolutions (e.g., television, satellites, computers).

The conception of this project began when Maria-Elena and I took a trip to Tijuana. Maria-Elena showed me the places where she grew up and we talked about the ways in which the border has affected us, our identity, and the ways we conceptualize our global world. We toured the border wall section located in Playas de Tijuana, admiring the beautiful artwork and noticing the openness and accessibility of the space. This was in stark contrast to the the US side of the wall in this location, specifically, Border Fields State Park and Friendship Park. We realized that our students may not have the opportunity to experience the border fence, to touch, it, feel it, hear it, see it up close, even though they live in the San Diego area. With this in mind, Maria-Elena and I crafted a project that would give our students an opportunity to access the border wall, through a physical experience, but also through the lived experiences of community members on both sides. My hope was that our students would expand their worldview beyond their community, their city, their state, and/or their country. I wanted them to view their world globally, through space and time. Most of all, I wanted our students to continue developing a compassionate view of our communities, and inspire them to action. – Ernesto Orozco Jr.

Even though the process of trying to finish my final product was very stressful, I think the easiest and funnest part of the project process was making my final product. I think it was the easiest part of my project process because I had already envisioned and drew what I was gonna do for my final product. Personally for me, making, drawing, painting and creating things is really fun and easy for me. – Cathleen Z


The easiest part of the project was the interview. I knew what my topic was specifically and Maria-Elena recommended someone to me. Maria-Elena had a book by an SDSU professor, and recommended I interview him. His information was easy to find, as it was on the website. I sent him an email, and got a response within 24 hours. We then settled on a phone interview or the next few days. Our interview lasted 30ish minutes. This was a very non-stressful and smooth process. – Gary G.


The hardest part was when we had to launch our final project. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I started to make a documentary, but after I recorded the script, I changed my mind. I realized that I wouldn’t have enough time to finish what I wanted to finish for my documentary. I switched to doing a photo essay. – Keana W


The easiest part of the project for me was to find the topic I chose. I already had family separation in my mind at the beginning and luckily it was on the list. The hardest part of the project for me is to find 8 sources for my topic. I had to dig deeper in the web to find new ideas about family separation. – Armon A


For this project, I feel like I kept pushing through when things were challenging for me, and I tried my best. For example, it was extremely hard for me to find sources for my essay topic. My essay topic was How the Kumeyaay have been affected by the border. Every time I tried researching it, something different would come up or not the things I was looking for. Because I kept pursuing I was able to try my hardest to find reliable sources to write my essay. Another example is my interview. It was challenging for me to find an interview because there weren’t that many contacts for me to interview. I tried emailing a few people, but that didn’t work out. With the help of Maria-Elena, I was able to finally interview someone who helped me a lot with my project! – Isabel P


I really liked what i was doing and was excited so i guess i just had a lot of motivation to get it done. Having free time to work also was very helpful for me because i knew what i needed to get done i just needed the designated time and space. Having the teachers support also really pushed me to keep going and helped relieve a lot of stress and worries when creating my final product. Having the checklist was also very helpful on guiding me on what to do by when. – Raha R.