Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: September 3 Silvia's Log

Ask directions, make a friend!

Ask directions, make a friend!Liliana Hirugami is a smiling, 14-year-old high school junior at Justo Sierra Secundaria in the Distrito Federal. Monica and I came across her as she was kicking a soccer ball around in a park with her mom. Monica and I were trying to find the Plaza de las Tres Culturas (See Monica’s update on the visit!). Just as we started talking it began to rain. It has rained every afternoon since we arrived in Mexico City!

The four of us stood under a roof and Liliana told us a little about what her typical day as a teenager here is like. She is friendly and says the opportunity to speak with students from Take that!other countries fascinates her. She has spent two weeks in Orlando, Florida with her mom, and visited Disneyworld, eaten hamburgers and hot dogs every day, and practiced her English, which she has been learning since elementary school.

In case you already noticed by her last name, Liliana is of Japanese descent through her paternal grandfather. She’s learning about Mexican history in high school, and she really enjoys studying. Her favorite subjects are math, chemistry and physics and she would like to be a doctor someday.

High school started at the end of the summer on August 24th. Mexican President Zedillo, who came into office 4 years ago, added days to make up for the fact that there were less Silvia interviews Lilianathan 200 schooldays per year. School used to begin in September. Liliana gets up every day at 6 a.m. to shower, dress, and eat her breakfast, then her mom drives her to school which starts at 7:30. In the morning there are 3 classes in a row, then recess break, and afternoon classes- 5 in a row. The school day ends at 2:15, and she goes straight home to start her homework. Lunchtime is at 4:30, when she waits for her mom to come home from her office job and they eat together.

Liliana shows the wayIf she has free time left before dark then Liliana likes to play soccer or go for a run. Sometimes there’s so much to do she’s up until 10 or 11 to finish it all, but on other days she’s done by dinnertime. Lots of students hang out together at malls after school to window shop and eat ice cream, but Liliana only goes out on weekends. She really wants to do well in school now so that she can get into medical school later.Liliana in Tlatelolco

When we told her about the Mexico Trek and our research, she offered to lead us to the Plaza and tell us what she has learned about it in school. Liliana explains that "the Plaza de las Tres Culturas was a major commercial trading center for the Aztecs. Indigenous peoples met there to trade their goods, ‘hacer truecas’. A ‘maquila’ was the measurement used to weigh a product, like today we use pounds and kilograms. When the Spanish arrived and conquered Villa Rica de la Veracruz, they exchanged mirrors for gold with these native peoples who had never seen such an object before. There was a lot of gold in Mexico during that time, and the Spaniards wanted it. At this Plaza, the Aztec pyramid ruins of Tlatelolco and the Spanish Templo de Santiago stand for these two cultures." The third symbolism is the mix of these two cultures to create the mestizos.

Liliana said that although she doesn't remember it, her grandma tells her that she screamed during the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, which did serious damage to her family's apartment on the top floor apartment and created much death and destruction in this area.

Silvia, Liliana and mom!After spending over an hour with Liliana and her mom, they walked us back to the Tlatelolco metro stop and we kissed goodbye. Her message to all of the students has to do with school, which she thinks so important:

"Study well in high school. If you like a particular class very much, keep your interest alive in that subject because you want to and not because your parents make you, or that it’s a tradition in the family to study something else. Do a lot of exercise to keep your body healthy."
-Liliana Hirugami


Related Dispatches: 
Monica - Tlatelolco, the death of the Aztec Empire & the Birth of Mexico
Silvia - Meet Liliana, soccer player, Aztec expert, 14 years old!
Shawn - A Report from the Battlefield
Team - Three Conquest Stories - You decide how they end!

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