A Message From the President

Can you remember the first time you crossed an international border? In 1996, when I crossed the Slovakian border into Hungary, I was all too eager to jump out of my rental car and have my friend take a photo of me in front of the Hungarian border sign.

I have a friend in Los Angeles who is involved in the movie business. In 1999, he was writing a script to what turned out to be a successful movie, Blue Streak. Everything was coming together in the movie, but he was unable to arrive at a suitable ending. The script involved the star, Martin Lawrence playing a phony cop, leading the Los Angeles Police Department on a long chase scene. My friend was looking for a grand conclusion that would allow the thief to escape from
the authorities and still be plausible.

How was he to end the film? The closer it came to production time the more desperate my friend became. He then remembered his first trip across the Mexican border when he was a teenager and how thrilling it was. His experience was much like mine and perhaps most TCC members. For him, he recalled it being liberating and disorienting at the same time. With this inspiration, he ended his movie with the make-believe cop escaping across the Mexican border. The LA police were in close pursuit but unable to follow him because of legal restrictions. He had me as a lawyer and judge verify that there was no legal way the police could go after him into Mexico.

There are common threads between we as TCC members celebrating the crossing of a new border and my movie director friend finding an ending to his movie. There is a certain finality to crossing a frontier. Particular laws are on one side, and different laws on the other.

What are some of the reasons people have in crossing from country A to country B? As TCC members, we seek to authenticate our travel history. Others might be seeking a new life of increased economic and educational opportunities. Some might be looking for adventures and new discoveries. Romance might be the goal of others crossing to a new frontier.

There have been a number of movies released in recent times that explore the differences between one side of the border and the other. An interesting movie dealing with this subject is a 2002 movie, Guardian of the Frontier. There, three college girls embark on boat trip floating down the Kolpa River that forms part of the boundary between Slovenia and Croatia. The women end up being followed by a conservative local politician who styles himself a defender of traditional Slovenian morality. The movie uses the river as a boundary between conservative values and a more modern European ethos.

Welcome to Norway is a 2016 film where the owner of a failing ski resort near the Norway-Sweden border converts his hotel to a refugee center. When 50 refugees arrive, he and his family are completely unprepared for their tasks as hosts. One of the highlights of the movie is the lessons learned between traditional Scandinavians and newcomers from Asia and Africa.

In July is a 2000 German-Turkish road trip movie where a shy German Physics teacher drives across five countries to meet the woman of his dreams in Istanbul. During the drive, all sorts of roadblocks arise, from a truck driver of questionable character and devious ladies in a van, to greedy Romanian border guards. The underlining message deals with immigration borders and crossing paths.

Argo is a 2012 movie about the 1979 storming of the US Embassy in Tehran by Iranian militants. Sixty-six American hostages were taken and held captive. Amid the chaos, six Americans managed to escape and find refuge with the Canadian ambassador. The US government called on an extractor to rescue these six refugees. Crossing the border here was the profound relief experienced when leaving Iranian airspace.

Observing these movies, we can see that crossing borders creates different visions. For some, it is the challenge of adjusting to a different culture. To others, it is the joy of discovering new places or seeking new opportunities. We as TCC members should remember that as we cross the border from, say Croatia to Montenegro, many others are crossing their own frontiers.

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