This week, children in the U.S. and Mexico had the chance to play together— despite the barriers that exist between them—after two California professors built a set of seesaws through a border fence.
In a video posted to Instagram by Ronald Rael, the University of California architecture professor who came up with the seesaw project alongside San Jose State design associate professor Virginia San Fratello, children can be seen on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border playing together on three bright pink seesaws built between Ciudad Juárez in Mexico’s Chihuahua State and El Paso, Texas.
Calling the project “one of the most incredible experiences” of his and San Fratello’s careers, Rael described how powerful it was to see a moment so “filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness” unfold at the border wall.
“The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-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,” Rael said.
According to the architect, he and San Fratello had actually conceived of the seesaw project, dubbed the “Teetertotter Wall,” in 2009.
However, ten years later, the project has come to fruition at a time when the national spotlight is focused on the U.S.-Mexico border, as President Donald Trump continues to drive a hardline crackdown on immigration.
By late Monday, the video of the seesaw project was already making the rounds on social media, with many praising the project as a “beautiful reminder” of the connection we share as humans, regardless of the borderlines drawn between us.
“Beautiful reminder that we are connected,” wrote Mexican TV star Mauricio Martínez, who shared a video of the seesaw installation to Twitter. “What happens on one side impacts the other.”
“The symbolism of the seesaw is just magical,” said Claudia Tristán, the Director of Latinx Messaging for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.
“A border fence will not keep us from our neighbors,” she said.
The Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) also praised the border wall installation as a powerful reminder that “we are all one.”
“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,'” it added, quoting Rael.
“We are all connected. We are all one.”
Posting more videos to Instagram of the Teetertotter Wall project following its unveiling, Rael said: “the joy that was shared this day on both sides is something that will stay with me forever.”