Inside USD

USD Students Gain New Perspective on Tijuana

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A group of 35 University of San Diego students and staff ventured just beyond the Mexico border on Oct. 19 to attend part of the two-week Tijuana Innovadora 2010 International Conference to gain a fuller picture about what this international destination has to offer.

The trip, led by USD’s Trans-Border Institute, enabled the group to learn firsthand about some of the five goals conference organizers sought from the event that ran from Oct. 7-21:

• Promote the image of an innovative Tijuana, nationally and abroad, to generate an influx of new investment.

• Present the technological development taking place in industry, education and art.

• Reflect upon the importance of supporting investment in research and education.

• Bring technology closer to society in order to have more competitive and committed citizens.

• Show key audiences the high levels of technology available in Tijuana and to share the culture.

David Shirk, director of TBI and an associate professor in the Department of Political Science  and International Relations at USD, accompanied the students on the trip. He felt it was important for USD students to see beyond the headlines and learn about Tijuana for themselves.

“After the last few years of unyielding attention to problems of crime and violence, Tijuana Innovadora is a concerted effort by business and civic groups in Baja California to mobilize the community, take control of their own destiny, emphasize that the city has really made huge improvements on public security and that there is so much more to this global city than what we read about in the headlines,” Shirk said.

While in Tijuana, the students visited museums and exhibits such as Museo de las Californias (Museum of the Californias) and Leyendas del Cielo (Legends of the Sky), and walked around Tijuana freely and interacted with the community.

Students attended two discussions as part of Tijuana Innovadora, including the philanthropy keynote address by Mexican buisnessman Carlos Slim, who is routinely listed as one of the richest men in the world and gives much of his fortune to charity. Slim’s address focused on philanthropy in Mexico.

“One thing that stands out is how the organizers were able to attract some of the most important and visible players on the global stage — Larry King, Al Gore and Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man — to help tell the story of Tijuana, which is a story of globalization, creativity and resilience,” Shirk said.

Students also attended a discussion led by Francis Fukuyama, professor of international political economy at Stanford University. Fukuyama spoke about trust, social virtues and the creation of prosperity.

“The organizers went out of their way to stress the importance of education and to make Tijuana Innovadora accessible to students of all ages,” Shirk added. “I think it meant a lot to the organizers that university students from San Diego would make the effort to attend.”

— Melissa Wagoner

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