Mexico - Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Event: Mexico - Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Date: June 24, 2010
Place: The National Mall, Washington DC
Interview: Cristina, Program Coordinator of Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Hi, I'm Colleen Bayus with Kids.gov, and we are here on a scorcher of a day at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This is Cristina, the program coordinator. Can you tell us a little bit about what this year's theme is and what you guys are doing?
A: Well, this theme is Mexico and we're doing the country of Mexico. We're trying to look at the deeper Mexico. What people wouldn't normally see at the beach resorts or what they hear on the news, maybe some of the violence.
So we're trying to show a lot of the indigenous groups (the peoples native to the land, or the group of people with the longest known historical ties to a place), communities from all around Mexico that you wouldn't normally see. It's really a once in a lifetime experience.
Q: You guys have so many activities going on. I've seen dancers, and there's food and there's crafts. Can you tell us some of the cooler and more fun things that kids would enjoy over here?
A: Well, I don't know if you can hear, but there's a rock band playing and rock music is always fun to dance to and we have some movies from the Senora desert. They got permission from the council of elders to do some rock music to the traditional songs because people were starting to forget the songs. I think kids would really like dancing to that.
The other thing we have, because corn is such a big part of Mexico and part of the culture, they use corn in so many different ways, they eat it in so many different ways. And tortillas are made in so many different ways in Mexico, it's not just one way. So we have some tortilla making workshops.
Q: What kind of aspects of the Mexican culture do you think kids would be surprised about or maybe not know or some interesting tidbits you might have for them.
A: One of the really cool things we have is we have some urban farmers who farm in cities. We found a different kind of agriculture that they do. It's raised fields that they have in Mexico City. I think it would be really fun for them to see how farmers, still in the cities, grow their own food.
Q: That is kind of neat. Is there a difference between, perhaps the rural areas and the city areas and the kind of cultures that those people experience and how can they keep the traditions in different parts of the country?
A: Yeah, there's definitely a big difference between the urban and the rural communities. But here we have a nice mix of both of them. And you can see a lot of the connections more and more. But if anyone comes out to the festival, they should definitely ask the people where they're from and if it's a rural community or an urban community and how that affects the way they think about their lives from day to day.
Q: And what do you think are some ways that kids today can keep the culture alive and traditions that they experience – you said that a lot of them are kind of fading away. What can they do now to keep them preserved?
A: Well, the Seri is a good example. Bringing the old traditions into a new idiom (a language, dialect, or style of speaking to a particular group of people). So that they can become excited about them, since they're surrounded by all this modernity (reference to modern times or the current era). That they can see the modernity in relationship to the indigenous (peoples native to the land, or the group of people with the longest known historical ties to a place) languages.
The other things that they can do is, I mean, come to a festival like this or be part of a festival like this. Just the fact that you're invited to do this at shows, that it's important. That tradition is important , that we care, that the people in the United States care about the traditions. And I think that shows the younger people that the cultures that "Oh, this is meaningful. This is worth holding on to."
Q: And for kids who can't make it down to the festival, do you have a website where there's pictures and they can kind of experience it virtually?
A: Yeah, we have a website. It's www.festival.si.edu. We have all the programs here featured and the programs on Mexico, we have a listing of all the groups that are here. And as the festival goes along, we're gonna have more and more videos posted about the individual groups, about the music, about the particular culture, particular community. So they should check it out, because they'd be able to - it'll be like they're here at the festival. They can watch it on their computers at home.
Q: Well great, thank you so much, I hope it cools down a little for you the next couple of days.
A: Thank you. I hope so too.