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Claudia Romero
Valerie Fong
ENGL 1S
February 23, 2016
Border & Borderlands: Physical vs. Imaginary
In discussions of Borders and Borderlands, one controversial issue has been the
separation between nations, more specifically, diversity among one another. Some argue that
diversity is a great way to see a new perspective. It creates a new symphony. On the other hand,
some contend that we may be a diverse nation as a whole, but once we look deeper and dissect
this nation, we might realize that we are separated by physical and imaginary walls and
boundaries. Still others maintain that we are forced to grasp different identities and become
diverse in that aspect. My own view is that we shouldnt have physical or emotional boundaries.
We should be able to explore and go out of our comfort zone without it being considered out of
the ordinary. We should be free as a nation and as individuals.
Where ever you are, you will at least see one or more ethnicities. In some cases, we
intertwine with each other more. For example, the Bay Area is a huge melting pot of culture.
Andrew Lam brings up some great examples in the article, Ode to the Bay: My Life as a
Vietnamese Immigrant in California. He recalls his first diverse experience with Mexico and Taiwan
and the United States. To live in the Bay Area, where I am now from, is to live at the crossroads of a
global society.(Lam) Lam is able to tell us that the Bay Area is a highway of great diversity. He later
mentions how if you go to SFO, youll see the highway of diversity in motion. He, of course, isnt
fazed by this. He doesnt deem this as unacceptable. Cultures that were once considered proprietary
have spilled irrevocably into the mainstream, mixing with one another, transforming the landscape

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(Lam) The melting pot of different cultures has transformed the land we stand on. With great diversity,
we give up the generic and bland environment for something exciting and invigorating. In my
lifetime here I have watched the pressure to move toward some generic, standardized melting-potted
center deflate. To something quite its opposite.(Lam) Without borders or borderlands blocking us,
we as a whole but also as individuals can become something great and special. Without them, we cant
mix and mingle and adapt differences from different cultures. This is the age of Hybridity(Lam)
We develop a sense of new identity. It becomes our new norm and we arent looked at weirdly or
judged because we have culturally become something else. Lam raises a great point at the end of his
article, being diverse and border free It entails the ability to overcome paralysis of the many
conflicting ideas by finding and inventing new connections between them above all the willingness
to head and embrace others stories, and to recognize in them that of his own.(Lam) Overall, without
boundaries, we can become so much more as a whole and as individuals. We can become this
healthy environment and mingle with one another without the worry of being frowned upon and
considered abnormal.
In the eyes of David Brooks, All around the country is people making
strenuous efforts to group themselves with people who are basically like
themselves. We dont make the effort to expand and intertwine with each
other because its considered abnormal, so we group ourselves with what is
familiar to us and what we are comfortable with, therefore, creating this
invisible boundary that is not allowing us to become diverse. Brooks goes
on and argues that its not only culture diversity that we separate ourselves
from, its also our political views, economical status, and what we see as
similarities of ourselves compared to others. All these factors come to play

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as to where we group ourselves and where we flock towards to. I consider
these Invisible Borders. The United States might be a diverse nation
when considered as a whole, but block by block and institution by
institution it is a relatively homogenous nation. (Brooks) Its obvious an
endless cycle if we cant look past our similarities. Its Human Nature. We
function better and are more comfortable if we are around people who are
similar to ourselves. Its in our nature to find people who we find compatible
to us. If we cant beat Human Nature, these barriers will continue to
separate us as individuals. Brooks finally states, Maybe you should stop in
at a megachurch. Sure it would be superficial familiarity, but it beats the
iron curtains that now separate the nations various cultural zones.
(Brooks)
Along with Brooks, Charles Bowden has similar views. Borders
everywhere attract violence, violence prompts fences, and eventually
fences can mutate into walls Just as our houses have doors and locks
they give us a divided feeling because we do not like to admit we need
them.(Bowden, 226) We secretly detach ourselves from the rest of the
world and we dont even know it. These are what I like to call physical
borders. Borders that we physically create as humans. Borders we can
actually see and feel and see the physical disconnection between us and
the rest of the world. In the case of Bowden, he talks about the border
between The United States and Mexico. Bowden brings out a couple of
examples of other borders and their purpose, for example, The Berlin Wall,

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The Great Wall of China and The Maginot Line built by the French. Walls are
for keeping people out. (Bowden, 228) This is extremely upsetting because
it just shows the meaning of a wall. An actual wall keeps us from merging
and having connections between each other. It blocks out the endless
possibilities of become great individuals. They keep us from learning from
each other. The last thing that I want to point out that Bowden says is, A
border wall seems to violate a deep sense of identity most Americans
cherish. (Bowden, 227) And with that being said, it brings me into my next
point.
Rebecca Solnit describes her transitions from identity to identity while
she is out and about in the San Francisco Area. As she goes around, she is
forced to adapt different cultures. Her perspective of boundaries is quite clear.
You easily transform to a different persona once you enter an imaginary
boundary. In Chinatown, I am the west In the Japanese Tea Garden, I am
always six years old At San Francisco State University, I am still a sad
nineteen-year-old senior on speed. (Solnit) But this is not only her only point,
she clearly describes how diverse the area is and how open minded she is
about being acceptant of the different cultures she is surrounded by. In the
Main Public Library, I am indigenous In the Sunset, I am almost Irish enough
but not San Franciscan enough In the Latino Mission, Guillermos Mission, I
am la guera neovictoriana. (Solnit) We can see she is influenced by her
surroundings, therefore, being open minded about it and becoming one with
the location.

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In my opinion, I am open minded to try new things. I would love to live in
a world where we have no limitations and are acceptant of the people around
us. To create this sense of individualism but yet be united as a whole nation.
Not be tied down to the emotional attachments of our own culture. Be able to
explore freely without judgment of others. For me, that would be truly a great
world and place to live in. We could create so many new things.
At the end of the day, no matter how you look at it, Borders and
Borderlands will always have different sides to the argument. Whether you are
open to try new things and create new symphonies between each other, or see
no change in our human nature and will forever be confined to our own little
bubble, or even be forced to change into a new identity every time we enter
into a new location, we will continue to grow as individuals and as a whole.

Works Cited
Bowden, Charles. Our Wall. Beyond Words: Cultural Texts for Reading and
Writing, Ruszkiewicz, John, et al, eds. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print
Brooks, David. People Like Us. www.theatlantic.com The Atlantic Monthly
Group, Sept. 2003. Web. 10 Feb. 2016

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Lam, Andrew. Ode to the Bay: My life as a Vietnamese Immigrant in
California. www.huffingtonpost.com HuffPost San Francisco, 15 Oct.
2012. Web. 03 Feb. 2016
Solnit, Rebecca and Guillermo Gomez-Pena. Who Am I Where: A Map of
Contingent Identities and Circumstantial Memories. Infinite City.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 29 Nov. 2010. Print.

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