By Stephanie Fimbres
For the past six months, I have been working on a study for my thesis about transnational workers, which are “daily border crossers as they move between home and work.” The purpose of this study is to examine their lives, specifically those who cross the border from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to Laredo, Texas. I want to understand how they manage work and live in a different setting where they experience a different culture, and the struggles they face every day in order to find a balance between the two.
In order for this study to take place, individuals have been invited to participate on a survey which results will make us more aware of their experiences as transnational workers. Some preliminary findings are that these transnational workers are U.S citizens, Hispanic, mostly women, and are not fully bilingual. It will be interesting to find how language may be a barrier on a border city where most of its population speaks Spanish, but English is required at the workplace. Eventually, this study seeks to bring more awareness of this group of people who are underrepresented United Stated citizens because of the fact that they don’t live in the country where they were born and don’t receive the same benefits. These workers, who are not fully integrated into society and may be seen as outsiders, influence us with their own set of cultural values and beliefs.
There may be many reasons why these people decided to live in Mexico, and it’s not an easy task to spend most of your day away from your home town. I say this because I am a transnational worker myself. Having to wake up hours in advance in order to arrive to work or class on time takes a lot of commitment and hard work. There are several emotions that I go through when waiting in line, such as stress when simply thinking that I’m going to miss the bus when the line is too slow, or when the bus arrives late to the station on a final exam. day All this is hard but has been worth it, though it takes time to adjust to a special schedule like this; yet the positive outcomes are seen at the end and I get to learn what self-rewards are.
My personal experience as a transnational worker has made me seen things from another perspective, and have impacted other people’s lives as well. When I tell people, especially students, what my day consists of and how early I have to wake up, they realize how much they underestimate what they have. I don’t complain about having to do all this because I have become a better person; I have seen myself grow, and learned to value everything even more. I am surprised when people complain about the smallest things, like having an old car or not getting the gift they wanted. Once you see life from another perspective and learned through hard work, you will discover what really matters the most.
As for the other workers, I have interviewed people from 23 to 38 years old so far. Like me, they study and work at the same time. Keeping up with a schedule like this seven days a week can be tiresome, but the rewards when they come back to their homes with their families are invaluable. I can’t wait to meet more people in the interviews that I will set up soon to hear about their personal stories as transnational workers. It will be interesting to hear to their different points of view regarding the same matter. I also want to learn what goals they have, what are their future expectations in life, and if they will ever move to the United States.
Every day is like a little trip for transnational workers, especially pedestrians. There is always something new to discover during the day at work. Throughout their short trips between home and work, they get to meet different people in an open environment when crossing the border.
Being a transnational worker is not an easy task, but we get to experience the best of both worlds. Experiencing two different cultures, languages, and many other things at the same time have converted them into multicultural individuals, which is appreciated in today’s world with the rise of globalization. A transnational worker is more than what its definition consists of.