U.S.-Mexico Foundation

USMF sponsored documentary “Una Vida, Dos Países” premiers in New York

Rebeca Vargas, President and CEO of the USMF and the film's director Tatyana Kleyn with panelists, speakers and members of the CCNY Dream Team at the premier of "Una Vida, Dos Países." All photo credits: Pat Arnow


On Thursday, March 24th, over 700 students, faculty and members of the general public gathered at the City College of New York’s (CCNY) Aaron Davis Hall to witness the U.S. premier of the documentary “Una Vida, Dos Países.”

This new film, funded by the U.S.-Mexico Foundation (USMF), highlights the challenges and opportunities faced by US born or raised youths and children who have been forced to return to Mexico with their families in recent years. The documentary follows the personal stories of several returnees adapting to their new life in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, combining these moving stories with facts and statistics about the issue.

Capacity crowd at CCNY's Aaron Davis Hall.

The film was directed by Associate Professor Tatyana Kleyn, Director of Bilingual Education at the City University of New York, beacuse, as she noted during the event, “the stories of returning youths and children, who have to adapt to a country they are not familiar with, need to be shared.”

Professor Tatyana Kleyn

During her remarks, Rebeca Vargas, President and CEO of the USMF, reiterated the Foundation{s commitment to promoting greater understanding and cooperation between the United States and Mexico. Specifically, Rebeca spoke of the Foundation's recent efforts to empower the Dreamer community and to share the stories of migrants returning to Mexico. Illustrating this commitment, Rebeca pointed to “1,000 Dreamers-1,000 Leaders,” a new mentorship and professional development program for Dreamers and “Dreamers without Borders,” a program through which the USMF is bringing US based Dreamers to Mexico to reconnect them with their country of origin. Rebeca also spoke of the Foundation’s support of the publication and binational tour of “Los Otros Dreamers,” a book  highlighting the experiences of Dreamers returning to Mexico. Rebeca concluded by saying "we are proud of this collaboration with Tatyana and CUNY especially because in addition to the documentary, the project also includes a guide for teachers in Mexico which we hope will help facilitate the integration into Mexican schools of children who grew up in the United States and are now back in their country of origin."

Rebeca Vargas.

City College of New York President Lisa Coico.

At the event, CCNY President Lisa Coico highlighted the power of film to share stories and raise awareness of important social issues, underlined the diversity of the campus as one of its strengths and thanked the college’s Dream Team for helping to organize the event.

The premier of the documentary was followed by a discussion panel featuring Professor Kleyn, the film’s director; Professor William Perez, a co-producer of the documentary and a researcher at Claremont Graduate University, who is an expert on return migration to Mexico; Maru Ponce, a New York-raised returned Dreamer featured in the book “Los Otros Dreamers” and Ben Donnellon, the film’s Director of Photography. The panelists were joined remotely via skype by Melchor and Alberta, two of the returnees’ featured in the film. The discussion centered the issues of identity faced by young returnees.

The USMF’s support of "Una Vida, Dos Países" included funding for producing the documentary as well as the development of a teacher guide and curriculum to provide teachers in Mexico with training to facilitate the integration of young returnees in their classrooms. As such, the project goes beyond raising awareness of an often-overlooked issue to creating tools to address the challenges faced by returning youths.

Panelists at the premier are joined via skype by two of the returnees featured in "Una Vida, Dos Paises."

Lisa Coico, Tatyana Kleyn and Rebeca Vargas

More information
Press Release
"Una Vida, Dos Paises"


Photo Credit: Pat Arnow


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