A conference organized by the Yale Mexican Student Organization this Saturday focusing on the topic of “a rising Mexico” and featured seven of the country’s most influential public intellectual figures.

Convergencias, an annual conference first held at Yale in 2007, took place in Linsly-Chittenden Hall and drew roughly 100 students from various universities. The conference serves as a platform for many students in the northeast to meet and discuss Mexico, and this year organizers invited attendees to explore the discrepancy between Mexico’s international and domestic image. Speakers emphasized the fact that while Mexico is internationally praised as a rising world leader for its reforms, the country is internally criticized for lagging behind in its lack of government transparency and violent drug conflict control.

“Real hope relies in the context of greater demand from below — with the emergence of citizens who fight for rights and not just the spoils of government,” said Mexican political scientist Denise Dresser, the conference’s keynote speaker. Dresser urged students to become more politically active.

The conference featured other speakers who addressed Mexico’s political environment and place in the global arena. Experts included prominent political scientists, diplomats, entrepreneurs, urban planners and journalists.

Students from around the country attended the event. Alexa Gallegos, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, said she felt it was important to come to the conference as a Mexican international student educated in the U.S.

“I feel like this is the only conference in the northeast that really addresses the socioeconomic policy of Mexico among people who get to have an education in the United States,” she said.

Cynthia Ingrid Ortiz, a senior at Long Island University, also spoke of the need for such a dialogue on her home country. Ortiz said students need to be focused and prepared for the next change in Mexico, as the country looks towards reforms in areas such as the oil industry.

Planning for the conference started in May 2013. According to event organizer and Yale Mexican Student Organization board member Murat Naim Dagli ’14, organizers choose the theme of “Mexico rising” because they wished to play off the dynamic differences between Mexico’s positive outward image and its inward reality.

According to Dagli, getting the speakers was not difficult, as they were all fairly responsive. However, Dagli added that some of the speakers had to be flown from Mexico, making financing the conference a more difficult issue to resolve.

As an international student from Mexico himself, Dagli said, the most rewarding part of the conference was the student involvement.

“If we acknowledge that there are more of us who are trying to go back to Mexico, it’s very inspiring. I know I’m not alone,” Dagli said. “There’s a group of students who want to go back. That has been the most rewarding experience.”

Cristal Villasenor, an undergraduate from Georgetown University, had a similar experience at the conference.

Villasenor called the conference “amazing” because it offered the opportunity to hear from top experts about her home country.

Students from over 16 schools around the country attended Convergencias.