These girls are using their love of science to bridge international borders.

Every day, hundreds of kids in Mexico wake up extra early to cross the border and attend school in the U.S.

It’s an unusual commute with border traffic, security checks, and metal detectors all before your first class, but parents jump at the opportunity to have their kids educated in the United States. And for the most part, the schools are happy to have them.

The border in El Paso, Texas. All images via XQ Super School Project.

It’s no secret that many of these kids face serious disadvantages in school. There are language obstacles and discrimination to deal with on top of the fact that many of the children come from impoverished communities.

Additionally, the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico threatens to tear some of these communities in half and leave kids further behind.

El Paso, Texas, is a city that shares a deep relationship with its twin city — Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The teachers in El Paso welcome Mexican students as their own and recognize that giving them the best education possible isn’t simply the right thing to do, it’s essential to building a better world.

“It’s really important for people to understand that Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, we are one community, ” says Liza Montelongo, executive director of the El Paso STEM Foundation. “Yes, we have a river that divides us, and yes, we are two countries, but ultimately if “weve been” depriving one part of our community, then we are doing a disservice to all of us.”

To help bring their community together, one school in El Paso decided to form a group that takes aim at another issue.

Women entering careers in science, technology, engineering, and math face a multitude of hurdles. There are large systemic biases like the gender pay gap as well as smaller, more personal hindrances.

For example, young girls who do well in STEM classes are often teased, and their potential those who are interested in the subjects isn’t cultivated as much as it might be for a young boy.

That’s where the “Chicas” come in.