• The Fellows Initiative

Border Fellows: A Year Rich in Cross-Cultural Outreach, Justice and Reconciliation

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

by Yolanda Millihorn and Keisha Branch

The El Paso region embodies a distinct blend of Mexican and American culture – and distinct differences, too.

Known as Paso del Norte, “pass to the north,” the two cities of El Paso and Juàrez are intricately linked.

Each year millions of individuals cross the border to work, study, travel and visit family members. With a combined population of over three million people, this region is a center of global commerce as well as intellectual and cultural exchange.

El Paso, the largest U.S. city on the United States-Mexico border, is affectionately known as “El Chuco,” and is home to approximately 679,000 people – 85 percent of whom are of Latin descent.

Also known as the Sun City, it is a place characterized by its warm, friendly community. It has been recognized as the safest large city in America, and is becoming increasingly relevant as Hispanic populations increase across the United States.

Directly across the border lies Mexico’s fifth largest city, Ciudad Juàrez,  with an estimated population of over two million people. It is recognized for violence related to drug trafficking.

It is into this geographical context that the Border Fellows was born.

A Year in a Dynamic, Cross-Cultural – and Fun-Loving - Community

In 2010, the Church of St. Clement, Ciudad Nueva  Community Outreach, and La Frontera Youth Initiative came together to create the Border Fellows program.

These organizations wanted to create a holistic training program for recent college graduates that would teach them to love their neighbors in a dynamic, cross-cultural, bilingual, and fun-loving community.

Directed by Yolanda Milliorn, the Border Fellows  program is a ten-month intensive work and service internship on the U.S.-Mexico border that encourages fellows to integrate their vocation with God's heart for outreach, justice and reconciliation.

Fellows are challenged to realize their God-given gifts and utilize them to serve a wide range of people, including the poor and marginalized in downtown El Paso, the staff at Ciudad Nueva, and the community at the Church of St. Clement.

They also engage in educational training focused on integrating faith and vocation with ministry outreach aimed at the specific needs of the border region.