As Israel and Mexico mark 70 years of diplomatic relations, Tel Aviv University (TAU) is hosting its own “Mexico International Week” on campus between May 8-10, in celebration of its longstanding academic relations with Mexican academic institutions.
“During Mexico International Week we celebrate the strong academic relationship between our countries while also promoting understanding.” – Maureen Adiri Meyer
Decades-long Tradition of Academic Collaboration
“We’ve been collaborating with and welcoming students and scholars from Mexico for decades,” says Maureen Adiri Meyer, Director of The Lowy International School at TAU. “During Mexico International Week we celebrate the strong academic relationship between our countries while also promoting understanding .”
The first joint publication between TAU and a Mexican academic institution was published in 1970, and the first academic agreement was signed between TAU and a Mexican university, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, as far back as in 1980.
Today, there are several initiatives supporting academic exchange between the two countries, including a new potential partnership with the Guanajuato state government that would allow local students to attend TAU international programs for free, as well as the Peisach Scholarship Fund for Latin American and Brazilian students.
The Mexico building on TAU campus
“I hope Mexico International Week will spark a curiosity in the participants, prompting them to look beyond the most common images – the food, the beaches and the tequila.” – Paul Frankel
Did you know that TAU has a building named after its collaboration partner? The Mexico Building, which in part houses the Faculty of Arts, was built all the way back in 1964. Donated by members of the Jewish community in Mexico and designed by architects Dan Eitan and Yitzhak Ishar, the building won the Rockach Prize for Architecture.
Legend has it that the building was designed in one night, and the word “Mexico” was scribbled on the architectural sketch. The unofficial reference eventually became the official name of the building, which can be found right in the center of campus.
More than Tacos and Sombreros
During Mexico International Week, participants will get a closer look at the warm and dynamic culture of Mexico, through introductions to traditional food; drinks and dance; lectures on cultural identity and history; discussions on Mexico-Israel relations and more.
The Mexican Embassy will also take part in the festivities, with their own booth on the first day of the event.
Paul Frankel, an MA student with TAU’s Security & Diplomacy program, will be hosting a discussion on Mexican identity and cultural heritage (complete with Mexican sangria!). For Paul, the week of events is an opportunity to build connections between the two countries and peoples, share knowledge and dispel stereotypes: “It has been an incessant curiosity of mine to learn in depth about Mexico,” says Frankel, an Israeli who was born in Mexico and has been working in Mexican museums for several years. “I hope Mexico International Week will spark a curiosity in the participants, prompting them to look beyond the most common images – the food, the beaches and the tequila. While we’re very proud of these elements, there is just so much more to Mexico.”
Andrea Garza (photo: Rafael Ben-Menashe, Tel Aviv University)
“If you compare Tel Avivians with Mexico City residents, people are always cheerful. They love to party, embrace the balagan [/chaos] – and there is the same colorful environment.” – Andrea Garza
Mexico, Israel and the Sabra
Of course, there are many broader connections between Mexico and Israel. Take the sabra, for instance – Israel’s iconic national symbol. Did you know that the famous prickly fruit with the sweet center also happens to be a national symbol in Mexico, appearing on its flag? In fact, the plant was likely first domesticated in Mexico approximately 8,000 years ago and only later made its way to Israel.
“We really are kind of connected,” shares Andrea Garza, a Mexican anthropology MA student who is also involved in running TAU’s Mexico International Week. “If you compare Tel Avivians with Mexico City residents, people are always cheerful. They love to party, embrace the balagan [/chaos] – and there is the same colorful environment.”
Tel Aviv University’s Mexico International Week is open for everyone who would like to join. Learn more and register here.
TAU-Mexico: 5 Facts
- 150 international students over the past decade
- 1970 marks the first joint publication between TAU and the Mexican Institute
- 1 building at TAU named after its collaboration partner, “The Mexico Building”
- 50+ years for the Mexican friends of Tel Aviv University Association
- 383 joint publications were co-published by TAU and Mexican universities