Nogales, Sonora December 2018 on the annual 50k ride of all Nogales mountain bike teams

Nogales, Sonora December 2018 on the annual 50k ride of all Nogales mountain bike teams

On the Borderlands Semester, we ride our bicycles on a journey along borders both physical and abstract, geopolitical and spiritual. As a community of teachers and learners, mutually invested in the process of transformative personal work and collective support, we ask ourselves and each other to leave behind the assumptions which have shaped the society we live in. We question the identities we have formed for ourselves within these often archaic frameworks. We instead assume responsibility for the stories our ancestors have told and created into history. From this ownership, we begin to sew new seeds and craft channels that may eventually return the current, diverted flow of water to its natural course.

Essentially, we seek experiences, relationships, and frameworks of understanding that will help us to answer the question: What is justice? How can we reconcile our pasts, and craft from them, our collective future? What does it mean to live not on one side of the border or the other, but in balance; on the border, above the border, or beyond the border?

Our flow of learning will mirror the cycle which derives the Earth’s own sense of equity. During the dawn and dusk, the hours in which the desert is most alive, we will embody movement through adventure sports, service work, and active inquiry that builds our relationships with people, ecology, and the land. In the stifling heat of day and under the stars, as animals and plants of the border hunker down to rest, we will do our work of the heart and spirit, connecting to our own family expedition group and reflecting on our individual journeys. We will ask questions of our own stories of origin and also dream about what is possible as we shape the world of our shared future.

We will engage with people by listening to stories we have never heard before, and share our own in return. We will ask our bodies to do things they have never done for us before, and show them care and respect at the day’s end. We will drink water with a new respect for thirst and new understanding of the source of water’s flow, and we will eat fruit with the intention of building a relationship with not only the food, but the plant, the seed, and the soil in which it grows. We will live in connection, and from this connection, we hope to begin to derive the essence, the building blocks, the basics. We will move from theory to practice, from abstraction to niche and action. When we reach the end of the physical border we ride, we do not intend to have answers, but direction: in a world beyond borders, where will we go from here?

Text by Andy Notopoulos