The Global Migration Education Initiative (GMEI) presented its 3rd annual educator workshop on August 7-9, 2023, in San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico, an epicenter of international migration. The multi-day binational program titled “(Re)Humanizing the Politics of Global Migration” focused on reframing the ways in which the politics of migration produce harmful, discriminatory, and dehumanizing narratives of migrants. The initiative aims to shift toward narratives that forefront the stories of people behind the statistics. This year’s teacher cohort included eleven 4th-12th grade educators. Six teachers were from various districts in Michigan and five from the Rio School District in Oxnard, California, a PK-8 school where 70 percent of the students are emerging bilinguals. In addition, six of the participating teachers currently work primarily with ESL/ELL and Dual Enrollment students while others teach AP world history, English Language Arts, and social studies. The program goals included sharing best practices for teaching global migration studies in the classroom, creating educational resources about global migration flows, and sharing pedagogical strategies for inclusive education.

As an ongoing collaborative project since 2022 between San Diego State University (SDSU) and multiple NRCs, as well as the Marsal Family School of Education at the University of Michigan (U-M), the workshop featured three full days of events. The first day involved presentations from both SDSU and U-M faculty on global migration and border issues around the world and Diann Rowland, a fourth-generation Korea-Maya-Mexican descendant who shared her unique family history of transnational migration from Korea to Mexico. CMENAS Director Ryan Szpiech attended this year’s workshop and gave a talk titled “Border Thinking, Past, and Present” where he shared images showing what power is distributed and where from the 7th Century CE to today’s modern world while underlining the shift from no borders with free-flowing movement to how borders are now used to express political power.

On the second day, the teacher participants and some SDSU and U-M faculty and staff crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on foot for an excursion to Tijuana where they engaged in conversation with 30+ migrants primarily from Afghanistan at the Refugee Empowerment Center & Transitional Shelter run by the Latina Muslim Foundation. Some individuals had been traveling for two years from their home country to Brazil and then the treacherous Darien Gap, an often deadly no man’s land between South and Central America to finally reach the border in Tijuana. On this day, participants also gathered at the mural-covered border wall at Friendship Park, a binational park on the U.S.-Mexico border on the Pacific Ocean, where they heard the personal story of a trans-border community activist who grew up in Mexico but crossed the border every day to attend school in the U.S. Professor Victor Clark-Alfaro, the founder of the Binational Center for Human Rights, joined the group to share his fascinating work studying the routes migrants follow to gain entry to the U.S.

There were also site visits to education programs in both Tijuana and Chula Vista, CA, designed to meet the academic and socio-emotional needs of migrant children. These included the Espacio Migrante in Tijuana, conversations with educators from the Alba Roja Secondary School in Tijuana, and the MAAC (Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty) Community Charter School in Chula Vista that provides an alternative learning environment for students ages 14-20. The third day focused on pedagogical processing and critical discussion of the previous two days. This was led by Darin Stockdill from U-M’s Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research at the Marsal Family School of Education and Wanda Toro-Zambrana, a special education and ELL specialist at Scarlett Middle School in Ann Arbor as well as some training in oral history methods from Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian Edras Rodriguez. Toro-Zambrana shared how she developed her own curriculum materials based on knowledge learned in a previous GMEI workshop and pedagogical strategies for reaching all learners regardless of their academic proficiency in English.

GMEI is supported by a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the U.S. Department of Education.