Post by: Natalie Solis, MTS 2020, HDS Admissions Graduate Assistant
We already published one post about J-Term Opportunities, but couldn’t resist sharing Natalie’s J-Term internship in Mexico City, during which she was able to make connections for her research interests in “artivism” across Mexico. Read on to learn more about artivism and to discover the sorts of resources and experiences available for students interested in Latin American and Latinx Studies at HDS.
During the January Term (J-Term), I spent three weeks interning at the VICE Media headquarters in Mexico City (also known as la CDMX, Ciudad de Mexico or el D.F., Distrito Federal) with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS). DRCLAS hosts internships in Mexico City during the January and Summer terms, enabling a cohort of students to work and experience daily life in Mexico. Since I am interested in Latin American and Latinx Studies, I was searching for Harvard programs related to Latin America. Taking the HDS course “Moctezuma’s Mexico” with Professor Davíd Carrasco during the fall semester ignited my desire to visit Mexico City, so I was looking for J-Term opportunities to travel in Mexico (check out Professor Carrasco’s interview titled “Exploring Native America”). Since I am of Mexican descent and have familial ties in Mexico City, I was very eager to visit Mexico City for the first time. My J-Term was also personally significant because I had family and friends show me around Mexico City.
I applied to DRCLAS’ January “Winternship” Program. Given my background in photography and social media, I spent three weeks interning at VICE Media in the Digital Marketing Department. My internship consisted of completing two projects with the VICE Social Media Editor. One was to create an archive of the images included in articles over the past year in order to conduct visual analysis and make suggestions for the visual content of future articles. This project was helpful in terms of providing a creative avenue to practice my analysis of visual content. Since VICE Mexico City is the headquarters for VICE throughout Latin America, I learned how to manage and create content for social media platforms across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as my second project. Gaining insight on the popularity of certain editorial themes, for example the interest in articles related to feminism in Mexico, assists me in learning about the content trends in certain countries. My favorite part about interning at VICE was assisting in the creation of content, from pitching ideas, learning how to publish, and addressing reactions from followers.
This January was a great time to be in Mexico City because of all the hype surrounding the new Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was inaugurated in December, and the highly acclaimed movie Roma, which is set in the neighborhood where I interned. One of the best parts of the program were the cultural activities, from climbing the Sun and Moon pyramids at Teotihuacan to watching Ballet Folklorico at The Palace of Fine Arts. As one of the cities with the most museums in the world, I spent most of my free time going to museums, from Frida Kahlo’s Museum La Casa Azul (The Blue House), the National Museum of Anthropology to the Modern Art Museum. A great attribute of Mexico City is that many of the government-owned buildings host collections of art that are accessible to visitors, such as Chapultepec Castle, the National Palace, and Los Pinos (the former official residence of Mexican presidents since 1934).
My favorite memory of Mexico City was visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, north of the Historic Center of Mexico. Our Lady of Guadalupe is believed to have miraculously appeared ten years after the fall of Tenochtitlan to Spanish colonizers in 1531 to an indigenous man named Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in Tepeyac. The most important figure in Mexican religion, Our Lady of Guadalupe is notably referred as the mother of Mexicans and Queen of the Americas.
There are multiple museums, churches, and pilgrimage sites in addition to the old and modern basilicas contained in the Plaza of the Americas. At the plaza, there is a pilgrimage route to climb up Tepeyac Hill, the site of the apparitions and first shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. In addition to all of the sites, I enjoyed all of people watching, from pilgrimage groups celebrating in the plaza to shopping at the marketplace next to the Basilica.
Throughout the rest of my time at HDS, I hope to build upon my ties in Mexico. While interning at VICE on projects related to the arts and social media may seem completely unrelated to my time at Harvard Divinity School, I am using the skills I learned from my internship to expand on my master’s thesis analyzing artivist movements across Mexico City and Los Angeles. The opportunity to experience the arts scene in Mexico and speak with artists assists with the conceptualization of my thesis and development of a network in Mexico City. This semester, I am further exploring my interests by taking courses on “Human Migration & US-Mexico Borderlands: Moral Dilemmas & Sacred Bundles in Comparative Perspective” through Harvard Divinity School and “The Imperial Arts of the Inca and Aztec” through the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. I enjoyed meeting the large Harvard community in Mexico and I look forward to reconnecting with them this spring at HDS through the Eduardo Matos Moctezuma Lecture Series.