Viernes 21 de Junio 2024
MIGRANT COMMUNITY

Sowing mexican culture in new generations: the objective of the "Knowing My Roots" program

Important to foster greater involvement of the migrant community with the Mexican state

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Lizeth Barbosa was born in Huajuapan de León, Oaxaca, 24 years ago; she emigrated with her mother to the United States when she was one year old and had not returned to her country since; 23 years later, she returns thanks to the Cultural Immersion and Volunteering Program (PICV 2024) “Knowing My Roots” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Federal Government, in which she participates along with 50 other young people of Mexican origin.

"I didn't remember anything about Mexico, I am very excited to be here and I hope to connect with my roots; I hope to learn much more about my country, its people, its gastronomy, its culture, and its history... it's a unique opportunity to return and be able to bring it to my class," comments the young woman who, in the United States, is part of the community benefited by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Leyenda: Especial

Recently graduated as a teacher, Lizeth assures that more than a tourist visit to learn about Mexico, she hopes to take all the learning to her students from this experience, who are in dual formation, meaning - she explains - that they not only speak English but also Spanish. 

From this experience, she has a goal: to sow the culture of their country of origin in the children. 

Over three days, the 51 young people of Mexican origin, 39 women and 12 men, from 24 regions of the United States, toured Mexico City where they interacted with city authorities, cultural representatives, and visited places such as the Oriente Men's Prison, where they witnessed the cultural intervention project "A Cry for Freedom" and interacted with incarcerated individuals; they also visited emblematic places like the chinampas of Xochimilco, the Templo Mayor, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, among others. 

This visit changes their perspective on Mexico and themselves, from valuing freedom to appreciating the quality and free public education provided by institutions like the National Autonomous University of Mexico, when in the United States, they say, universities can be very expensive.

"Mexico is my country and the more I know it, the less comfortable I feel living in another country; I would like to obtain my Mexican nationality, come to study here, and be an ambassador of Mexican culture and this program wherever I am," said Carlos Mosso, son of Mexican parents who currently lives in Houston, Texas. This Thursday, June 20, the young people will travel to the states of Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, and Zacatecas where they will volunteer in various communities for two weeks. 

In an interview with El Heraldo de México USA, the head of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IMA), Luis Gutiérrez Reyes, expressed that the PICV is a significant tool to establish ties with new generations of Mexican people, who will be the next leaders and permanent allies of Mexico abroad.

"They are children of migration... almost 90 percent of them (the program participants) were born in the United States, they identify as Mexicans, but most do not have Mexican citizenship, they are a second generation of Mexicans abroad and it is very important to reach out to them, attract them to Mexico, link them to the country because the first generations that migrated will no longer exist at some point and those who will remain are their children. If we do not do a job as a country to take responsibility for reaching out to them, they will gradually blend into where they live, into another culture, into other beliefs, and will no longer have ties to their country, and this is an effort to connect these new generations with Mexico", Gutiérrez Reyes commented. 

Leyenda: Especial

The aim, he added, is for them to see the diversity, richness, and reality of our country, to become ambassadors of Mexico from there; to return to the United States telling what marked them from this trip and to get involved in politics, in the defense of their community, as has happened in previous editions where participants are now authorities taking political control of their city. It is very important for them to become agents of change, seek to influence the bilateral relationship "and they can help us a lot to work in the defense of Mexico abroad," emphasized the head of the IMA. 

Brianna Puga, another program participant, daughter of undocumented migrant parents born in Los Angeles, is an example of this. "I work as a community advisor on migrant rights with the Mexican community" and while - she assures - she doesn't know a Mexican who is not proud to be one, it is necessary to convey to the children and future generations not to forget where they come from and the effort of their parents to establish themselves in the United States, in Mexico or wherever, to get ahead.

After two weeks of volunteering in the participating states, the young people will return to Mexico City on July 4 to share their experiences and close the program. 

Necessary to promote greater political participation of the migrant community: expert 

Interviewed in the framework of the recent elections in Mexico on the importance of continuing to involve the migrant community and increasing their political participation, Dr. Luicy Pedroza, Academic Coordinator of the Master's Degree in Political Science at the Center for International Studies of El Colegio de México, pointed out that migrants are sometimes quite skeptical of the Mexican state.

"They are attached to cultural traditions, but they do not feel a great attachment to the Mexican state because, in the end, it is a state that did not give them work, that expelled them, that did not protect their rights, but they do feel an attachment to their local communities." 

Leyenda: Especial

Although progress has been made in some areas, there has been a setback in others, such as the weakening and even disappearance of consultative bodies, where the voices of migrants were previously heard to develop public policies in their favor, the researcher emphasized. 

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Therefore, it is important to continue promoting participation mechanisms beyond the vote, as has been the case so far through associations in which the migrant community expresses its cultural interests, longings, and the care of its roots.