Diverse events color week of celebrating Latin America

Helping to kick off a week of events ranging from talks on globalization to a dance, a lecture that was part of the first annual Latin American Awareness Week packed Luce Hall yesterday.

The discussion on “Perspectives on Globalization in Latin America” Tuesday was one of the opening events in a week of activities organized by the Yale chapter of the Latin American Student Organization.

Some of the events, like Tuesday’s panel, are designed to encourage discussion and critical thought. Others, including a dance this Friday, will focus on a celebration of culture and diversity.

Carla Pinto ’03, president of the Latin American Student Organization, said her group decided to organize this week’s events as an effort to reach out to the entire student body. She said that, rather than disperse the events throughout the year, the organization wanted to increase awareness and participation by putting all the activities together in a single week.

“We wanted to give information about our culture from our own perspective,” Pinto said. “We hope to make this week a tradition here at Yale.”

One of the week’s most anticipated events is a lecture on the legacy of Bartolome de las Casas that Spanish professor Rolena Adorno will give this Thursday, Pinto said.

Adorno said this week’s events honor the presence of Latin American culture in the United States.

“Citizens of Latin American and Spanish-speaking Caribbean background are today a large presence in this country and play an increasingly distinguished role here in all avenues of public, professional, intellectual, and artistic life,” Adorno said in an e-mail. “That’s a fact. It is this presence and contribution to the cultural life of this country that we honor during Latin American Awareness Week.”

Yesterday’s panel on globalization featured sociology professor Andrew Schrank, economics professor Eduardo Engel and Richard Grant, former managing director of JP Morgan Chase.

Despite sometimes expressing differing opinions on the ideal role and nature of globalization and trade, all three speakers emphasized the importance of mankind having a universal goal.

“Mankind was born universally human. It was only later that he was issued a passport,” said Grant. “We must not let fellow human beings be left behind as the world turns.”

Engel emphasized the importance of trade to developing countries as he said that small countries can specialize in particular goods and therefore remain competitive in the trade markets even if the diversity of their exports is limited. He also said that opening the economy helps increase education among citizens.

“Trade increases the infusion of knowledge into a country,” Engel said.

A large audience of community members, students and professors attended the discussion.

“It was really interesting to hear such a range of perspectives,” said Emily Meeker ’03, who attended the talk and said she plans to participate in other events this week. “I think students here are really lucky that Yale is able to attract such distinguished speakers. [The discussion] was a great program that people obviously worked hard on.”

Diana Lee ’03, treasurer of the Latin American Student Organization, said she hopes the events scheduled for this week help educate the Yale community about Latino culture.

“When I first got toÊYale, IÊwas surprised to see that many people here could not conceive the fact that I am from ArgentinaÊbecause of my Korean looks,” Lee said. “We wanted to share with the whole community, not only the dancing and fun for whichÊLatin America is known, but also its politics, economics and culture.”

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