On December 1, 2021, the Eighth edition of the Miradas Fronterizas Cultural Festival was held, a disciplinary meeting held in Tijuana and San Diego.
The theme of this edition addressed access to education for migrant communities on the border.
Alma Migrante had the pleasure of interviewing Alberto Chávez, a cultural organizer, and Katerine Girón, a community organizer from Espacio Migrante, who told us a little more about the edition of this art festival.
Next, we present this interesting interview where we share the work behind Miradas Fronterizas and the work carried out by the Espacio Migrante organization with the migrant community of Tijuana and San Diego.
How did Miradas Fronterizas come about?
Miradas Fronterizas began in 2014, as a playful and creative space that allows for closer relations with the migrant community based on culture and the riches of its traditions. Art has an effect, and nothing more clearly than the effect that the art of the migrant population has.
What was Espacio Migrante goal in creating this project?
The first objective was to relate the migrant community with the local Tijuana community, make visible the cultural, gastronomic, labor contribution, and the contribution that migration gives to Tijuana society.
What message do you seek to convey through Miradas Fronterizas?
One of the main objectives is to achieve this change of narratives from art and culture, something very important for the organization is to weave community, we see Miradas Fronterizas as an opportunity to do so, unite the migrant community with the local community among us, showing the change of narratives from an artistic, creative and cultural point of view that greatly enriches the knowledge of the local and migrant population in their integration into the city.
While the world changes and faces new realities, Miradas Fronterizas seeks to offer a meaningful experience for all the people in order to exchange ideas and learn more about multiple aspects of migration, strengthen relationships between people in the context of mobility and the community local to advance in the transformation of the current narratives around this phenomenon that is being experienced.
What is behind Miradas Fronterizas?
We have a lot of planning. We are just starting to plan the next Miradas Fronterizas, we see it as an opportunity to show the work we do throughout the year, we give different workshops and courses with the migrant community, for example, we have Spanish classes in which we seek justice of language, or the legal clinic, the accompaniment with people and different projects in which we work with the community throughout the year.
In the end, the idea is to choose from each area of the organization what we want to present at the end of the year, summarize the work we have done to show it at the end, making the work visible and, in turn, the migrant community above all.
The planning is very long, since the beginning of the year we have held several meetings to find out what this year’s edition will be about and the theme, it is quite a big task, and we try a lot to involve the migrant community, but also the local community as artists who can participate.
With this eighth edition of Miradas Fronterizas, the issue of access to education for the migrant community on the border was central, basically in 2021 our work theme was access to education, and from the different areas of Espacio Migrante we dedicate ourselves to strengthening certain activities to be able to carry out the work that is presented.
In the community area, resources were given to children who did not have tablets, a technological way to be able to connect, notebooks, pencils, colors and resources were given to families so that they could buy the supplies that the children needed for classes, They were the direct contact with the Binational Migrant Education Program PROBEM) to try to start their process to enter the educational centers.
Likewise, from the culture area of the organization, work was done directly on the community telenovela project, workshops began to prepare the telenovela script, the mural was also generated, becoming a mobile mural, the difficulty of the pandemic did not allow us to have the mural last year in a high school, this was going to be painted by students from the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC) together with the arts teacher Garzón Masabo, however, we decided to do it in print so that we could present it at the inauguration of the last year, but this year we started with the process of being able to paint it if we are given the opening.
What does this edition of Miradas Fronterizas leave for Espacio Migrante?
Our focus this year was very much on access to education for migrant children and the community in general. One of the greatest learnings was seeing what the community can achieve when it comes together.
For the telenovela, a script was made from scratch created in the workshops given in the migrant community, with the families of the cultural center shelter and the community, we created little by little this process, see how the camera focuses, how the image would look like, how to tell their stories.
The story of the novel was formed with real stories from the same community, we learned how weaving community and doing work together allows us to do great things, things that change the narrative by helping children to access education and facilitate the process, which is one of the main goals.
Personally (Katerin) enriches me a lot, I entered the school last year, I lived through that process, I am Salvadoran and it was a little complicated, I went through the bureaucratic process to enter the school, personally it was a great learning experience, I was able to see how a project can be made so big with everyone’s support.
How does this project impact the community?
It hits hard, this leaves a beginning without an end, with this it is not that what we did this year is only for this year, something has already been reflected, which is a continuous work, for organization it will always be an issue on the annual agenda in collaboration with other organizations and the community itself.
For its part, the impact on the community is that they can always have the support of Espacio Migrante to have information, which is difficult in these migratory contexts, the lack of information. The fact of having these spaces and the opening of where to go and knowing what to do is what the community gains.
The theme of the soap opera is that, to present and make visible the obstacles that the migrant community has to access educational systems. It also presents a way of how to achieve it, it is a beginning without end, migration will be around for a long time, it was already there before so many organizations that we are in at this moment were created.
Why through art and culture?
In the organization itself, it fills us all and we are involved in different ways with art and culture. Espacio Migrante is a living space, with fun colors, it is a safe space, we have worked from the beginning to be able to present spaces where boys and girls mainly can have spaces for music, art, painting, playful reading with the objective of learning, and this brings many of them back to life.
There are cases in which children come with their parents during this process without having a toy in their hands, they are robbed of the right to play, to education and to migrate. Our objective is to present a space where migrants can return to their roots and present all those who like to eat, their gastronomy, their music… we are good cumbieros in Espacio MIgrante already, we like to eat pupusas, chicken in slices, Haitian chicken, it is beautiful, culture, art and gastronomy unites us to the communities.
At Espacio Migrante we have a motto “resist enjoying”, precisely for this reason, we are resisting and enjoying at the same time, we know that it is our fight, but they are resilient people, we are here to be able to show that beautiful part, culture is in each one of us. The communities that come are showing us that, the fact that they can be themselves and express themselves in that way and change the narrative from that side show us how beautiful these communities bring and the cultural difference of all, the art and their talents so great so that they are taken advantage of and can exploit them to the fullest.
What’s next for Miradas Fronterizas?
All the projects that we have started are coming up, for example, the telenovela, for Miradas Fronterizas Eighth edition the telenovela trailer was presented, this year it is intended to have the telenovela and have its premiere, to present the painted mobile mural, either by the community or by UABC art students in a high school.
We continue to fight in Miradas Fronterizas, it is not only about the issue but about information, about the steps to follow with migratory situations, we always stay out of what is happening in the United States because that is what hits us, what happens there is what we have to act on.
We hope that this year there will be more flexible policies for the migrant community, with this MPP an incredible setback was made, something that we have already experienced in other years, this is something unfair, and we hope that the policies become flexible.
Let us continue from the shelter of the community center attending to the families and people who need this attention that does not concern us directly, but rather the government, but here we are and how good we can be.