Culture Shift: Looking at Identity in the Borderland Bubble

In this episode of Our Border Life we talk about those moments when people realize they’re in a culture shift – that something fundamentally has changed about their identity. Specifically, the growing awareness of the multi-layered identities among people living in the U.S-Mexico borderland region of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

We meet with Gustavo Reveles, who was born in El Paso and spent the first 15 years of his life living on both sides of the border. In a conversation with a friend, Martin Bartlett, Reveles talks about how he didn’t realize he lived in a culture bubble until he moved away for a job after college.  


“You grew up thinking you’re both Mexican and American.

Culture: The Real “Border” Between People

San Antonio, Texas – In 2006, Daniela Hernandez was attending high school in Mexico and was far from being fluent in English. Now, four years later, as an international student at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), Hernandez is a member of the Honor’s College, a tour guide for the Visitor’s Center and is close to completing her bachelor’s degree in finance. Despite her academic successes, Hernandez, a 22-year-old Mexican-born UTSA senior who expects to graduate in May of next year, isn’t shy about discussing the difficulty she has had adjusting to U.S. culture, from different styles of celebrating holidays to divergent modes of relating to friends and classmates inside and outside the classroom. For example, she says, in Mexico families eat Christmas Eve dinner at 11 p.m. and open presents at midnight; U.S. families celebrate with dinner and presents on December 25.   And New Year’s Day in Mexico centers on family; while in the U.S. people celebrate the holiday attending parties. Another huge difference, according to Hernandez, is how students interact in the classroom.