Washington & Jefferson CollegeHeinz Programming Area:
Through the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership, Victoria had the opportunity to study international relations, Spanish, and political science in Cuba. She spent two months there emerging herself into Cuban culture to better understand Cuba and its people. She stayed with a husband and wife as well as with three other girls studying in the same program as her. The heat was exhausting and the relaxed mindset of people was frustrating to her at times. Little did she know she would soon hold this same mindset. Everyone is always in a rush in the U.S but in Cuba time is relaxed and flexible. Victoria eventually adapted to this more relaxed and flexible approach to life and time. She realized she doesn’t always have to be in a rush to move on to the next thing or activity, but should enjoy what she’s doing at that moment. Victoria took classes on social revolutions in Latin America and Latin American film, both important in explaining Cuba’s political views and social issues. She also took a cooking class and a dance class since food and salsa dancing are very relevant to Cuban culture and life. While abroad she learned the importance of personal relationships among people. She was impacted by observing how friendly Cuban people were to one another and how everyone was willing to help one another, even if they just met. This changed her viewpoint on materialist tendencies within the United States. Victoria no longer wants materialistic things to take precedence in her life. Instead, she wants important issues and those who she loves to take precedent. Next, the professors who taught her classes became family to her. They helped her practice Spanish and made sure she was doing well not just within the classroom but in getting accustomed to living abroad.
Although Victoria faced machismo through her cultural emergence with large amounts of catcalling, the educational value behind it was well worth it. She realized the importance of appreciation for people and the things she owned. She also realized that not everyone is as fortunate as she is when it comes to opportunities and everyday life. Cuba taught Victoria more than she could’ve imagined and Cuba changed her for the better. Victoria feels more prepared toward becoming an immigration attorney after her experience in Cuba. She has gained newfound confidence which will be helpful to her in the courtroom. She also had the experience of seeing where some immigrants come from originally and what caused them to migrate in the first place. These experiences can help her make connections within her future career in ways other people might not be able to.
CEE Title: Combatting Stereotypes of Latin America
My CEE was called “Combating Stereotypes of Latin America”. This event was a panel discussion that consisted of five panelists from different Latin American countries. The countries that were represented at the panel included Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, and Cuba. The panel focused on the United States’ perspective of Latin American countries and the impact this perspective has on the Latin American community. The United States’ perspective not only impacts the Latin American community abroad, but it also impacts those who live in the states as well. The panelists were asked a variety of questions such as how stereotypes have negatively impacted them or their country, how their country is different from other Latin American countries, and how Trump’s references of Latin American countries has impacted their lives. The panelists answered these questions very thoughtfully by providing personal and representative examples. They helped to break down the truth behind certain stereotypes and the inaccuracies behind others. The purpose was to show the attendees that those who are from Latin America are not their stereotypes. Through the panel questions the panelists were able to represent themselves as individuals and their country. After answering a long list of questions the panelists were asked what could be done in order to combat the stereotypes the U.S. has of Latin America. Through the questions and some discussion this panel came to the decision that education and travel is the best way in which the community can begin to combat these stereotypes. All in all, the event “Combating stereotypes of Latin America” was successful in educating people about the falsehood behind certain stereotypes and the significant impact it has on an entire community of people.