critical design with paper fortune tellers

Border Crossing Fortune Tellers are made for Mexican children who are learning how to behave when crossing the border from Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego, California driving.


I’ve rediscovered an awareness of my bicultural and bilingual upbringing. I’ve realized that these have impacted me more than I previously thought, both in general and in my everyday life.

Some people here in the United States tell me that when they read my writing that they can tell I am translating from Spanish to English. On the other hand back home in Tijuana, people tell me that it is obvious in how I speak that I’m translating from English to Spanish. So now, I’m kind of lost in between the two languages and I’ve forgotten the specific nuances of both. I used to get angry and frustrated at this, but now I’m more accepting of this dynamic and realize that it naturally occurs. Also, because of skills like knowing more than one language, one can easily connect with other cultures, which is very important to me. This way of thinking has led me to remember how I have become a master at crossing the border between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California.

People that live in border towns are very aware of how to behave, what to do, and what to say when crossing to and from the United States; but people that are not used to this process are very unfamiliar with the finer details. I clearly remember my parents telling me what to do and say in case a border guard started asking me questions. Later in life, I was crossing on a daily basis and considered myself an expert in doing so. Now, whenever American friends or family from Southern Mexico come to the border, I explain to them the steps to follow to have a smooth crossing.

By examining these various instructions and why they are effective, one can see the subtleties of the system and where it can improve. This is the first time I am looking directly at my experience crossing the border and how I can convey this experience to others. Over time, this project has become more exploratory and has awakened something inside of me that I might not have acknowledged in the past. Through this project I was able to remember my childhood memories and connect them with the ongoing experience of crossing this border.