We think that we’re in the United States and that Nogales, Sonora is in Mexico, but in reality we are a Border country and a Border culture. Amobos Nogales, both Nogales, have a unique kind of relationship. We have more in common with each other than we do with each of our state’s capital let’s say. The legacy of the tragedies of 9/11 have been a legacy of fear, and misunderstanding in the U.S. and we’ve seen that impact our community in a tremendous, terribly sad way. Where before, we had easy passage back and forth, today that passage has been blocked, not only by a wall, but by a whole way of thinking. There has been a change in the perception of the border news. We have been on the news for the bad reasons for so long, 10 years maybe, that we really want to focus on the other 95% of the good news relating to the border, and I think that Byte, is one of those clear examples of new things happening on the border that we want everyone to know about it. Byte is an after-school youth development program that provides both tennis instruction and academic enrichment activities. Byte is modeled after the National Junior Tennis & Learning network, which uses tennis as a hook to promote positive, after-school recreation in low income, under-resourced communities. What’s unique about Byte is that we’ve taken that model, which has been proven effective for over 40 years, and we’ve transferred it into a new region and a new landscape. We want younger generations of especially students, children who are in school, to have this new window of opportunities. And we know that keeping children in theatre classes in music lessons, in sport lessons, team-working, we will keep them away from gang-working. A typical day of programming for Byte starts with an hour of tennis. After that, we move to the classroom and we do academic enrichment activities and the focus there is really around improving digital literacy. The tablets are really important because they are the tools that we use to show the kids how to learn new skills like how to edit photos, and how to make their own videos. They also provide the platform for the kids, the two groups on either side of the border, to exchange and to communicate. Since we’ve started, it used to be that just a few of the girls would come out and others would sort of sit and watch and now everybody comes out and everybody grabs a racquet, and the nun grabs a racquet, and everybody is playing. Just to see that, is really special. Having had a role model to help me get interested in technical fields, makes me proud and appreciate the opportunity that Byte is giving me now to be that role model for these kids. Byte is a fun and happy thing, it’s kids running around and playing, underneath that, there is a bringing together of peoples. There is a creation of a sense of importance. When you hit that ball over the net and score a point, it makes you feel that you have accomplished something. It is a very little thing on the tennis court, it is an enormous, extraordinary thing in life. Speaking of the current narrative, I don’t think grown-ups can be fixed, don’t work too hard on them, but work hard on the little ones. Focus on the very young about this current narrative so they can actually write a new chapter.

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Dennis Veasley

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