3 artists made a bilingual comic to show how complicated immigration really is.

Liddy heard a scream one night from the backyard of her home in the border town of Pharr, Texas.

She was having trouble with undocumented immigrants passing through her property. She'd been especially worried ever since she found one of her horses killed and skinned, which she took as a warning sign from a Mexican drug cartel.

When she went out to her backyard to investigate the sound, she was disoriented by what she found. But not half as much as I was.


​All images by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente​/Panel Syndicate, with words by Brian K. Vaughan. Used with permission.

That's the basic setup to a cool new web comic called "Barrier."

Written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente, "Barrier" is a digital-only comic about immigration and aliens — legal, illegal, and extraterrestrial. The self-published series is available online, with the purchaser setting their own price, and the horizontal pages are optimized to fit your screen or tablet.

But here's the interesting part: The comic is bilingual. Which means I can't understand all of it.

Aside from a few years of high school Spanish that I can't remember and some random Irish phrases that I never use, I'm ashamed to say that English is my only language. But half of "Barrier" follows a Honduran immigrant en route to the United States, and there's no translation guide.

It's annoying and confusing — but, well, that's kind of the point.

"We wanted to try something different, presenting a story with no translations, so that readers in various parts of the world would each have completely unique experiences," explained Vaughan — who, like me, only speaks English.

Vaughan's artistic collaborators, Martin and Vicente, are both from Barcelona.

Unlike Vaughan, they speak Spanish. But their Spanish (and Catalan) is different from Honduran Spanish, or Mexican Spanish, so while they were making the comic, they ran the translated dialogue past the Honduran consulate in Barcelona too, just to be safe.

But again: That was kind of the point.

"It’s vital to the story that readers experience the same feeling of being lost and confused that people face when finding themselves in a different country," said Martin. "And judging by the both positive and angry responses we’ve received, we’ve apparently succeeded."

"We wanted to find an entertaining, unconventional and, most importantly, visual way to explore a complicated issue [like immigration]," Vaughan said.

Before "Barrier," the trio worked on a similarly experimental webcomic about internet privacy called "The Private Eye," a digital-only story that was pay-what-you-want and free of any copyright locks or encryption. This time around, Vaughan says they wanted to tackle what might be the most important topic of conversation for the next five years.

"We didn’t exactly need a crystal ball to guess that it might be immigration," he said, although he admitted that none of them realized just how big of an issue it would be.

From a reader's perspective, the lack of translation in "Barrier" really does make the story that much more effective.

You can still figure out what's happening, for the most part; not every language uses words, and the artwork in the comic speaks for itself.

I might not be able to interpret the dialogue during Carlos' trek through South America and Mexico, for example. But thanks to Martin's and Vicente's incredible artwork, I can at least understand that he's feeling anxious, lost, and confused — because, after all, so am I.

"I’m always humbled and fascinated by the way that language both unites and separates us all," said Vaughan. "As a visual medium, comics can often smash through that language barrier, which was a phenomenon I always wanted to investigate more deeply."

And just to drive the point home even further, there are sequences without any words at all, but they still tell a powerful story. You can see it in the pages below, or in the upcoming third installment of the series, which ... well, let's just say it takes the idea of feeling alien to differently literal level.

A series of consecutive, silent pages portraying the characters' parallel lives.

The disorientation of not knowing what's happening brings clarity to the issue of immigration in an incredible way.

"Languages are not only about communication, but they also model the way we perceive, understand, and experience the reality and the world around us," Martin said.

The artists know some people will miss out on certain subtleties and nuances in the story because they don't speak the language. Some people will likely understand a different point of view entirely. Others might follow their instincts and block out the half of the story they can't understand, even if they could still infer the story from the images and moments.

But, come to think of it, that sounds a lot like the larger debate around immigration.

When it comes to a complex topic like immigration, sometimes it's hard to find the right words. But that's exactly why "Barrier" is worth checking out.

Stories bring us together, and when a story like this is accessible to anyone, it makes it easier for people to have important conversations about things like immigration and surveillance — regardless of their native tongue.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

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