Embassy of Mexico in Japan Representative Emmanuel Trinidad Hernández Speaks at LUJ
On November 1, to celebrate Dia De Muertos ('Day of the Dead'), LUJ welcomed Emmanuel Trinidad Hernández, Counselor of Academic Affairs, Science, Technology and International Cooperation for the Embassy of Mexico in Japan.
The conversation started at 5:30, and was led by LUJ professor Dr. Edgar Pelaez, who will be teaching a Manga & Anime class in Spring 2024. A packed crowd of LUJ students, faculty and staff filled Muskie Hall and listened intently to a discussion centered around Mexican culture and tradition.
Dr. Pelaez was kind enough to share a recap of the event below.
What were some interesting points made by Mr. Trinidad Hernández during the conversation?
One of the most interesting and important points that Mr. Trinidad Hernández mentioned was that the Día de Muertos is a festivity about life, not about death. We celebrate the life of our loved ones who passed away, we share a meal with them and include them in our conversations on that day. It's a day in which families come together to remember those who have passed away and keep them in their memories.
Another interesting thing that he mentioned during the Q&A is how Mexican culture has been influenced by many different cultures from Asia. Mexico was in the path of the first trans-pacific trade route, the Manilla Galleon route, bringing goods from Asia to Acapulco, crossing through Mexico to Veracruz and from Veracruz to Spain. This exchange was mutual as well. For example, chili is native to Mexico and was brought through that trade route to Asia.
Finally, he also pointed out that everyone is welcome to join the Dia de Muertos celebration. Part of this celebration is sharing, and everyone is welcome to paint their faces as sugar skulls or even make their own Dia de Muertos Altar even if they are not Mexican.
How do you think the students responded to the event? Were there questions/comments?
We had an amazing response; the Muskie Hall was full and there were many students interested in the event. We also had some BGU [Bunkyo Gakuin University] students visit us to hear the talk.
Students asked if other Hispanic cultures had a similar event, and Mr. Trinidad Hernández mentioned that this celebration is a mixture of Aztec beliefs with Catholic beliefs, the Day of All Saints, which is also celebrated in other Hispanic countries. Therefore, they have similar celebrations, but not exactly the same as Mexico.
Students also asked about the Marigold flowers which are used in the Dia de Muertos decorations as a way to show the path for the souls of our relatives to find their way back home. Some students also approached Mr. Trinidad Hernández to ask for some career advice, as they were interested in working for an Embassy or the Foreign Service.
Why did you think it was important to put on an event such as this?
In today's globalized world, it's important that students have exposure to different cultures. For them to be able to work in multicultural environments and develop intercultural communication skills, students should be exposed to different worldviews, perspectives, philosophies and histories.
Events like these help students to be aware about their own and other cultures and to become self-aware about cultural differences. The best way to develop the skills that our students need to work in a multicultural professional environment is to constantly expose them to other cultures and illustrate the cultural differences with activities like this one.
At the same time, they’ll come to realize that despite the distance and differences, history connects us all, and that although at first view it might not look like it, many of our modern cultural practices link us to other parts of the world that might seem distant.