Tomoyuki spent August 2008 to June 2009 at the University of Guadalajara and participated in student movements supporting the indigenous people of Chiapas during his stay. Through his presentation, the audience could gain insight into the immense scale and scope of the student movements taking place in support of indigenous peoples in México. He also pointed out how aspects of life that are taken for granted in Japan, such as being able to ride a bicylce safely in any part of the country, are missing from the Mexican urban landscape, as most people commute from place to place within the safe confines of an automobile. His presentations prompted the audience to question complacency and find inspiration from the activists in Mexico constantly fighting for justice.
Following Tomoyuki's presentation, Nobuko Shibata, who also spent time in Chiapas learning about indigenous rights movements there, presented a video made for the children of Chiapas by an organization called Melel Xojobal:
Because of war, religious tension, the lack of Maya language schools, and the ready supply of tourists to whom children sell handicrafts, there are huge numbers of street children in San Cristobal de las Casas (though few live on the street, all work or beg there). Melel Xojobal ("True light" in Tzotzil, a Maya language) emphasizes pride and education as a way to connect street children with their roots, their communities, and educational opportunities.The video is called "Cómo aprendí a trabajar/How I learned to work" and is the story about Rosa, and how she learned to survive in the urban center of Chipas San Cristobal de Las Casas after socio-political conflict forced her family to relocate from the countryside.
Street educators work in the three main sites where street kids congregate: the plaza, the mercado, and Cerillo (the first two are tourist spots). Educators emphasize art and expression as a way to connect with the youth and to build trust, and to diagnose the services they might need.
Finally, Shibata showed us the music videos of Sak Tzevul, a rock band composed of members from Zinacantan, Chiapas and Japan:
Since the band´s origen the music has become a blend of the Maya Tzotzil culture with influences of both post-modern rock and classical music....we gather and carry forward what we consider to be the most important elements of our work …
The voices and songs of those who have shared with us their hearts and wisdom. It is this that we want — that the sounds and languages that intertwine: Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Spanish and Japanese … are an offering to our town of Zinacantan, and too, a gift to the world.
¨A delicate song from the spirit of the earth…¨
Batik Xa Ta Sna K'ak'al (To the House of the Sun)
Following the music video, another video was presented with Sak Tzevul explaining how the use of the "sun" and "moon" in the song symbolizes "father" and "mother." The song tells of how our dreams may be a guide but they have setbacks. Instead we must follow the beat of our own heart. We may have to walk the same path over and over again until we know what the heart wants. This song was created to motivate the people in Chiapas to continue fighting for justice.
For more information on Melol Xojobal (in Spanish) you can follow their activities on this blog.
-Posted by Jen Teeter