Eric Huynh '07
Wow. What a City! My first experience and trip to Latin America has been a success and one that I will remember for many years to come.
After years of misunderstanding and perceiving Mexico as simply an underdeveloped country proved to be wrong after coming to Mexico City. My short stay in Mexico City has changed my views on Mexico one hundred and eighty degrees. As I stood, looking at Mexico City atop Castillo de Chapultapec, which allowed a magnificent view of the city, I thought to myself, where was the Mexico City that I have understood it to be? The city in front of me was by no means underdeveloped. The many skyscrapers in the horizon gave the impression that this could be any other city in the US. From this view alone, I would not have guessed that I was indeed looking at Mexico City. It was only when I walked the streets that I was brought back down to reality. By walking the streets I could see Mexico City for what it truly was, a country with diverse culture and long history in the process of developing to become modernize like the rest of world’s developed countries.
Mexico City is like any other city, with good and bad areas of the city. Depending on the area, lifestyles and classes are different from each other. The first area we stayed at can be considered as a poorer part of town. This area had many street vendors, cheap restaurants, and smaller buildings. However, when we switched to the hotel in the better part of the city, things were much different. There are large and expensive restaurants, many skyscrapers, nice cars, men in business suits, nice hotels, wide variety of American food chain such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, KFC, and Popeye’s. After seeing all the things in the better part of the city, I am even more convinced now that Mexico City is developing and changing to become more like its northern neighbor.
After experiencing Mexico City first hand and finding out how clueless and wrong I was about Mexico, I believe that the American school systems do a poor job teaching about Mexico’s history and culture. In a week spent in Mexico, I have learned more about Mexico than I have my entire high school career. Mexico is filled with history and culture, yet, the American school system only briefly touch base on it even though Mexico is bordering the US and plays such a important role in American society. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans are a large percentage of the US population, yet we hardly know about them besides the stereotypes. American schools need to not only teach about the US involvement in Mexico, but also Mexico’s past and present.
This once in a lifetime cultural experience in Mexico City was definitely worth missing the otherwise much needed break for Thanksgiving.
In Photos: Top Left: The lobby of Hotel Maria Cristina, Bottom Right: View of the City from one of the courtyard's of Chapultepec Castle