Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Three pink seesaws at US-Mexico border unite children across a high metal fence

AP, July 31, 2019 6:45PM Kids News

Print Article

A mother and her baby play on a seesaw installed between the steel fence that divides Mexico from the US in Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico. Picture: AP media_cameraA mother and her baby play on a seesaw installed between the steel fence that divides Mexico from the US in Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico. Picture: AP

humanities

Reading level: orange

Children on either side of the US-Mexico border are playing together despite a fence dividing them, thanks to three pink seesaws.

The seesaws are the work of two US professors, one of whom described the project as “one of the most incredible experiences” of their working lives.

The seesaws — which are called teeter-totters in the US — are on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas, US and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. They were designed by Ronald Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California and Virginia San Fratello, an associate design professor at San José State University.

A child has a ride on one of the pink seesaws on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border. Picture: AP media_cameraA child has a ride on one of the pink seesaws on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border. Picture: AP

“One of the most incredible experiences of my and @vasfsf’s (Ms San Fratello’s) career bringing to life the conceptual drawings of the Teetertotter Wall from 2009 in an event filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness at the borderwall,” Prof Rael wrote in an Instagram post.

“The wall became a literal* fulcrum for US — Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition* that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence* on the other side,” he added.

The word fulcrum means a central point a lever rests on. Fulcrum is also often used to describe a more symbolic* thing that plays a central or essential role in an activity, event, or situation. In this case, the designers saw the seesaws and the wall to which they are attached as both literal and metaphorical* fulcrums.

In video accompanying the post, kids are seen playing on the three seesaws spanning the barrier dividing the two countries.

People play on pink seesaws at border wall

The scene drew praise on social media at a time when there is a lot of attention in the US on the border and US President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall to prevent illegal immigration from the Mexico side of the border, into the US.

“Beautiful reminder that we are connected: what happens on one side impacts the other,” Mexican TV star Mauricio Martinez wrote on Twitter.

“The symbolism* of the seesaw is just magical. A #Border fence will not keep us from our neighbours,” wrote Claudia Tristán, who is working to help US Democratic* candidate Beto O’Rourke in the 2020 US election campaign.

The Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) also praised the seesaw installation.

“Art is such a powerful vehicle* for change,” RAICES said in a tweet. “A beautiful installation at our southern border reminds us that: ‘Actions that take place on one side have direct consequences on the other.’”

media_cameraMembers of the Mexican military police check children and people as they play on the seesaws at Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico, July 28, 2019. Picture: AP

This story was originally published in the New York Post and is reproduced here with permission.

GLOSSARY

  • literal: taking the exact meaning of words
  • recognition: appreciation for an achievement or understanding a situation
  • consequence: result
  • symbolic: serving as a symbol of something bigger or broader
  • metaphorical: symbolic or figurative; opposite of literal
  • symbolism: the use of symbols to explain an idea
  • Democratic: in US politics, one of the main political parties. The other is Republican, the party to which President Donald Trump belongs.
  • vehicle: a thing used to express an idea

EXTRA READING

Trump bans seven nations

Snapshot of Australian history

Is a bigger Australia better?

Missing athletes just ‘left in the night’

Lost wallet study finds people care about each other

QUICK QUIZ

  1. How many seesaws are there and what colour are they?
  2. Do the two professors think the project is a success?
  3. What is the difference between literal and metaphorical?
  4. Which two countries share the border where the seesaws are?
  5. When is the next US presidential election?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Write a story
Imagine that you are one of the people playing on the teeter-totter. Write a story about it. The purpose of your story is to help your reader understand why you think that this is important.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Civics and Citizenship

2. Extension
The seesaw or teeter totter is a symbol of something that the designers think is really important. Explain in your own words what it symbolises. Then, choose an idea or an issue that you think is important in your community, or in Australia. Like the teeter totter designers, design something that could be a symbol that helps people learn about or understand it.

Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Civics and Citizenship, Design and Technology, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many wow words or ambitious pieces of vocabulary that you can find in yellow. Discuss the meanings of these words and see if you can use them orally in another sentence.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you think the seesaws are a good idea? If so, what do they tell or remind us? If you don’t think so, why not?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in humanities