While traveling, many feel most comfortable in houses of worship; others seek and create a sense of familiarity in museums, cafes, bars or plazas. University campuses make me feel at home no matter where I am in the world. Beyond linguistic and cultural barriers, I am able to identify with the youthful exuberance generated in environments of learning. It is where one comes in contact with the uncompromising and passionate ideals of the youth, the practical wisdom of the faculty, and the country’s most socially and culturally engaged general public.
Most campuses–as with universities I have spent time in: Shiraz, San Diego, Birzeit, Berkeley and Mexico City–are often the main site of social movements. In Mexico, the tension between the university and the government is more tangible. On October 2, 1968, hundreds of college students in Mexico City were massacred by the government of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. This event of transnational import is known as the Tlatelolco massacre. Consequently, the army is not allowed on campuses while universities hire their own security. It goes without saying that this law has not necessarily stopped the army from attacking, arresting and shooting at students in Mexico.
On January 14, I had the honor of spending a day at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), located in La Ciudad Universitaria. I was charmed by its open spaces, iconic murals, and friendly energy; I was humbled by its history of involvement in academic and social movements in Latin America. I aspire to teach and study at this magnificent institution one day. Here are four pictures that capture my day at UNAM.