Beyond Borders

THE MARIPOSA PROJECT

Helping Children See Each Other Across Borders

The miraculous transformation of butterflies (mariposas in Spanish) is celebrated as a symbol of hope and joy in cultures around the world. The Mariposa Project began in 2017, when Ben Gundersheimer (known as MISTER G) sent the lyrics of his bilingual song “Señorita Mariposa” to Marcos Almada Rivero, a celebrated Mexican illustrator living in Oaxaca. The pair had become fast friends after collaborating on the artwork for Ben’s Latin GRAMMY Award-winning album, “Los Animales”, and were excited to reimagine the song as a picture book. "Señorita Mariposa" will be published by Penguin Random House in August of 2019.
On the face of it, ‘Señorita Mariposa’ celebrates the wonder of the Monarch Butterfly’s annual migration,” says Gundersheimer, “an epic three thousuand mile journey that spans the US, Mexican, and Canadian borders." However, as Marcos started to draw, a deeper underlying narrative emerged. "We grew to understand the responsibility that all three nations share in safeguarding butterfly habitat and the undeniable parallels with human migration."
Geared towards museums and performing arts centers, the "Beyond Borders" tour engages school children and families through a multi-day artist-in-residence program, which culminates in a large-scale community performance.
This footage is from a recent pilgrimage that Ben & Marcos made to visit the Monarch Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán, Mexico, a World Heritage Site devoted to butterfly conservation.

Beyond Borders: At a Glance

The multi-day residency begins with a performance by MISTER G and the Global Citizen Ensemble. Students learn about the butterfly migration and get an overview of the weeks’ activities.
When children contribute to a large scale project, they are able to experience first hand their potential impact in the world. Their input becomes part of a vibrant whole - celebrating both individual achievement and the power of working collectively. The result is more than the sum of each participant’s effort. It reinforces their role as change agents in their communities."
Students are then organized into cohorts (typically by age group) that meet one to several times over the course of the residency. The workshops are framed around a discovery learning process, inviting youth to explore their surroundings and draw upon their own experiences while working together to create a collaborative product and imagine how it will manifest at scale. The age-appropriate curricula engages children in a variety of multi-sensory projects that synthesize visual art, field recording, found sound, body percussion, bilingual language acquisition, singing, movement, and songwriting into the production design. 

The residency culminates with an evening public performance featuring MISTER G and the Global Citizen Ensemble. Participant families are invited to attend the multimedia spectacle, which is designed to entertain an intergenerational audience with rhythms from around the world, immersive sound design, large-scale projection, and onstage youth participation.

Workshops & Assemblies 

Symbolic Migration

A visual art exchange with students in Mexico, highlighting their shared role in environmental stewardship.

SINGING IN COLOR

A bilingual learning adventure in search of colors, perspectives, and language acquisition.

FOUND SOUNDS

Scavenge and create abstract percussion through field recordings 

COLLABORATIVE SONGWRITING

A group exercise in self expression, lyrical writing, and song structure.

STAND UP AND SING

Prepare for an onstage performance with movement, singing, and bilingual language acquisition. 

Curriculum Tie-Ins

  • Discovery & Integrative Learning
  • Bilingual Language Acquisition
  • STEM (Butterflies Unit, Grade 3 CORE Curriculum)
  • Ecology and Environmental Stewardship
  • Media & Performing Arts
  • Global Citizenship

Adjunct Community Engagement

WE BRING OUR PARTNERSHIPS TO YOU

In addition to workshops coordinated by our host institutions, there are several ongoing outreach programs that we organize independently.  Working in conjunction with national partners, we seek out opportunities to activate community organizations through pop-up appearances, media events, and workshops. Our goal is to broaden the scope of engagement and interweave as many cultural communities as possible into the culminating performance with our host institution.
MISTER G is on a quest to discover and celebrate grassroots organizations that address critical environmental issues in their communities while fostering youth leadership as part of the solution. The EcoNiños program was created in partnership with Mom's Clean Air Force, a nationwide network of well over one million members (part of the Environmental Defense Fund), and Green Latinos, a national coalition of conservation leaders in the Latino community. Together, we are inspiring children by shining a light on the next generation of youth leaders who are helping solve the most pressing issues of our time.
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Seeds of Shalom

In 2015, MISTER G released the first of two albums commissioned by PJ Library, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy and cultural engagement by distributing free books to over forty thousand Jewish families around the world each month. Seeds of Shalom is a multi-lingual program that inspires children to protect and preserve the environment, emphasizing the power that we all have to help create a more harmonious world. Workshops are organized with regional PJ Library coordinators, engaging youth through Jewish Community Centers and Synagogues. 
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Ben Gundersheimer (MISTER G)

Ben Gundersheimer is a Latin GRAMMY Award winning artist, author, activist and educator. Hailed as “a bilingual rock star” by the Washington Post, he was originally dubbed MISTER G by his young students while pursuing a Master of Education degree. His dynamic, interactive bilingual performances aim to dissolve borders and foster cross cultural connections. In addition to headlining festivals and performing arts centers, he leads workshops for students and conducts professional development sessions for educators. 

Marcos Almada Rivero

As a child, Marcos loved to doodle. He grew up watching cartoons and science fiction movies and reading about different kinds of animals. He studied animation and children’s literature in college and quickly went on to publish his first book, “My Grandfather’s Toothpaste” (La Dentadura de mi Abuelo) in 2008. He is the creator of the Oscar the Opossum (Oscar el Tlacuache) series as well as the award winning “What Have They Done to our Roof?” (¿Qué le han hecho a nuestro techo?). Marcos currently lives in Oaxaca, Mexico where he teaches animation and illustration workshops.

The Global Citizen Ensemble

The Global Citizen Ensemble (GCE) is an international collective of acclaimed musicians who have recorded and performed with Ben across the span of his last ten albums, developing deep friendships and contributing to the multicultural nature of his music. Geared towards festival and Performing Arts Center audiences, the ensemble has a big sound that engages people of all ages, incorporating rhythms and musical traditions from around the world. Speaking several different native tongues, the GCE celebrates music as a universal language that has the power to bridge ethnicities, nationalities, and unite people from all walks of life. Their performance is often augmented with immersive multimedia that enhances the experience with powerful visual storytelling.

Señorita Mariposa

Penguin Random House; Nancy Paulsen; 9781524740702; Ages 3-5
In August, Penguin Random House will publish Ben’s first book, Señorita Mariposa - a captivating look at the extraordinary annual migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico. 

Featuring artwork by Mexican illustrator, Marcos Almada Rivero, the dual-language book aims to spark dialogue and help children learn about climate change and immigration issues. 
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Curious to Learn More?

Does Beyond Borders sound like a good fit for your organization? Drop us a line and we'd be happy to share more information about how the residency works and our blueprint for engagement.

2019/2020 Season 

The Beyond Borders Residency is on tour in the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020. Initial availability coincided with National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15). Please inquire to learn more about specific dates.

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Stay in touch and we'll let you know what's new and when Mister G is coming to your neighborhood!
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MISTER G
c/o Coil Records
PO Box 275
Whately, MA 01093
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