Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Independent "Study" during Semana Santa in Mexico City

Learning continues well beyond the walls of a classroom. This continues to become clearer for me as I explore new places and ask questions on my own. During my break for Semana Santa, I had the opportunity to stay in Mexico City. My partner in crime: Diego de Regil, art student, fellow adventurer, best friend, and lover of life. Seven days to encounter a city’s history, art, and delicious food. Each experience was accompanied with a story or explanation that enriched my learning outside the confines of a schedule and books. 

After we filled our stomachs with nearly one dozen tacos de canasta, our first stop was El Palacio Nacional. Before we even crossed the main plaza, a pair of high school students from La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México (UNAM) stopped and invited us to participate in an interview for their class project. With a camera and microphone in hand, they first interviewed Diego, then me.

Diego's interview
My interview
The entire interview was done in Spanish, so naturally, I was nervous. One of the questions really got me thinking.  Que piensas de la frase “el que no tranza no avanza”? Translation: What do you think of the phrase “he who doesn’t cheat doesn’t get ahead”? I supplied a foreign perspective on México’s reputation of corruption in broken, shaky Spanish. This phrase comes from Mexican film called La Ley de Herodes, a political satire of government corruption.  From what you have learned in class, from listening to speakers, and conversing with Mexican acquaintances, what do you think? Today in Mexico, with the current politics and structure of society, is it possible to get ahead without cheating, or compromising?

In El Palacio Nacional, there was an art exposition by the name of Programa Pago en Especie. A handful of famous artists, from all over the country can participate in the program by giving artwork to the state in place of paying taxes. The pieces were extraordinary and free for the public to enjoy. I thought this was an innovative and creative way to approach fiscal responsibilities to the government.

Information about the program Pago en Especie
Later in the afternoon, after a refreshing stop at Yogurtland for 2-for-1 treats, we made our way to El Palacio de Bellas Artes. Here we met the famous muralists, Diego Rivera, Jorge González Camarena (my new favorite), David Alfaro Siqueiros, Roberto Montenegro, Manual Rodríguez Lozano and Rufino Tamayo. If you thought Rivera was good in Cuernavaca, you should see Man, Controller of the Universe in Bellas Artes! The political messages painted over a massive wall are truly impressive.
Inside of Bellas Artes
México City has so many places to visit that are nearby and easily accessible, all provided the opportunity to learn and grow if you open your eyes wide enough. Although I wasn’t in class, I learned so much on my free days. I would suggest that if you have the time, explore as much as you can in the city. It will not disappoint you! 

-- Brooke Pringle


  1. Thanks for taking us along on your encounter with people, art, and neighborhoods of Mexico City! I especially appreciated the description of the murals and your insights and questions regarding "cheating" and "compromise" -- two quite distinct behaviors, of course -- the former certainly a vice and the latter perhaps a virtue?

  2. what a neat experience Brooke! Very neat that you got interviewed and will remember that forever! Nice post!