Latin American culture comes to Langara

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Claude Esposito and Hazel Baxter dance the tango in the A-building main foyer on Feb. 27 as part of Latin America Week.

Latin American culture and social politics were the backbone to Langara’s annual Latin America Week, where guest speakers literally tangoed through the main foyer.

Latin America Week ran from Feb. 27 to March 6 and featured various events open to Langara students, faculty, and the community.  Students had the opportunity to enjoy lectures and movies screened on campus, including one directed by a Langara graduate.

A tango in the foyer 

Around noon on Feb. 27, students scurrying between classes in the A-building had to navigate around a tango dancing performance by Claude Esposito and Hazel Baxter. Esposito, whose father was a pioneer of early tango orchestras, was a part of the Latin America Week lecture series.

Eyren Uggenti, a marketing management student, said the tango performance was a great idea for raising awareness.  “[Esposito and Baxter] were very happy to be there . . . I think that really reflected in the crowd,” he said.

Jessie Smith, coordinator of Latin American Studies, said the tango performance added an interesting element to the event, “He’s 79, and they dance tango four nights a week, it’s so cute.”

Smith said Latin America Week is not just to raise awareness about the program, “[It’s an] opportunity to allow the wider community to learn about the important issues that are taking place in Latin America.”

Documentaries and guest speakers 

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Jason Tockman gave a speech on social movement in Bolivia at Langara on March 6.

As part of the exploration of Latin America, Langara graduate Rachel Schmidt’s film was screened on March 3. Schmidt produced and directed the film Defensora, a documentary highlighting the tensions between a Guatemalan community and a mining company.

The final lecture for Latin America Week was by Jason Tockman, from UBC’s political science department, who spoke about social movements in Bolivia. “In Bolivia, really interesting questions are being asked that we often don’t talk about in Canadian context,” he said. Tockman said these social movements are making political, social, and economic changes.

Latin American Studies are one of seven interdisciplinary courses at Langara. Every year, the the programs puts on a lecture series, but Smith said she decided to expand on the lecture series by involving different media such as films and performances.

 Reported by Renee Sutton 

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