Alejandro Vertiz, Mexico (AC 08-10)
What is a Latino? Although a culture shouldn’t be generalized, the term Latino often means Hispanic. At Atlantic College a Latino would often be described as one of those who always sit together in the dining hall, talk really fast in Spanish and eat in an extremely slow manner.
The Latino community of AC is unique; only in a UWC do so many Latin American and European Latinos meat. We have things in common that build a certain identity; when it comes to football and parties we always come together. Nevertheless differences exist between us. Who belongs to the Latino community? Certainly not only native Spanish speakers as may believe, for Brazilians and Italians also form, amongst others, part of the same culture. Furthermore, when it comes to dialogue between Latinos, there is a plurality of accents and vocabulary that might be considered barriers elsewhere, but in AC they are greatly appreciated and often the reason for a good laugh.
Wanting to demonstrate our cultural diversity to the AC community, the idea of a Latino focus week came up. A photography exhibition was inaugurated in the breakfast room, “Images of Latin America”. It brought a glimpse of the Latinos, from the streets to the jungle; different images captured their cultural essence.
The films “Cidade de Deus” (City of God 2002), and “En la Puta Vida” (2001) were showed and followed by discussions on current news of Latin America. It was an opportunity to find out more about the drug war, but also to realize that many continental events go unnoticed, and that there is more than “Narco-traffic” to the story.
An inspiring international concert was given. Bringing music and cheers to the student body during a time of exams and worries. A short stories booklet was written by Latino students and posted in every dayroom on campus; the texts had a wide impact on the alumni and staff, bringing a marvellous taste to the cultural experience.
Last but not least, the UWC Latino Movement was introduced; Patricio Provencio from Mexico (AC 07-09) gave us a brief description of its aims:
˝Throughout the years, Latin American students have given a very lively image of our culture in the different United World Colleges. We are normally recognized for our good music, our great spirit for partying, and our delicious foods, but are we only made of those superficial aspects? Back home, our nations encounter striking social realities, where corrupt people throughout the years have brought development to the region. Although a few might enjoy a comfortable life, many more, millions, suffer from the lack of fulfilment of their basic needs, and the impossibility of making our diverse and culturally rich countries improve. But there are people that fight everyday for these factors to change, and we want to be part of it. Being selected to come and represent not only our community or nation, but our region, we have decided to give something back to the world.. Through raising awareness in the colleges, establishing contacts with organisations from all levels of society and all parts of the world, and developing small and large-scale projects in our communities, we intend to develop a dynamic, lively, and pacifying movement whose purpose is to improve education and life conditions in Latin American, based on the UWC principals we have learned at the college. The movement stems from Atlantic College, but the intention is that all UWC students set out to join our cause, which is to make a difference in our communities. No matter if it is one, a hundred or a thousand who join us, we want to make people’s live better. We have to act, as we are now part of the change we want to see in our Latin America. ˝
Finally, after these wise words, I sincerely hope you enjoyed the focus week as much as we enjoyed organizing it and I take this opportunity to remind you that you are more than invited to join, if you haven’t had the chance already, that table in St Donat’s Castle filled with peaceful eaters and fast speakers; for the Latino group has its arms wide open.
– United World College Student Magazine –