IBA Member Gives Keynote During Global Professional Training: Mexico
- Mar 9, 2018
While visitors descended on the Forty Acres for Explore UT in early March, more than 80 students gathered for an intensive two-day conference to explore academic and professional opportunities in Mexico.
This was the second annual Global Professional Training focused on Mexico, a conference designed to help students learn more about Mexico, develop intercultural communication skills, and create a peer-to-peer network while exploring Mexico-related careers, courses, and programs at UT.
The beginning sessions gave students a brief introduction to Mexican culture and a chance to get to exchange ideas, but the crux of the program kicked off with a keynote address by special guest speaker and incoming chair of the UT International Board of Advisors, Dr. Adriana Pacheco Roldan.
“I am honored to return to my alma mater to present to students for the first time about Mexico,” Pacheco said. “As a native Mexican and a recently naturalized citizen of the United States, the opportunity to engage in specialized dialogues with students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, who are at the beginning of their professional careers, is an exciting one for me. I hope that I can share with them my passion for Mexico through my personal story and in return learn about their own unique stories and what their dreams are for their future.”
Pacheco has a deep connection with the UT community. Not only does she currently serve on the International Board of Advisors, she holds a Ph.D. in Iberian and Latin American Languages and Culture from UT Austin and is Affiliate Research Fellow at LLILAS Benson.
Originally from Puebla, Mexico, she received her undergraduate degree in Hispano-American Literature from UNIDES-Puebla and a Master’s in Iberian-American Literature from Universidad Iberoamericana-Puebla. A scholar of the nineteenth century, Pacheco is also a member of the Conservative Sensibilities International Research Network (University of Bergen, Norway) and Mexico’s National Research System (SNI). She is the co-founder of the 19th-Century Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) and the co-creator of the scholarly exchange program between Universidad de las Americas Puebla (UDLAP) and the University of Bergen, the first ever in Mexico under the sponsorship of the European ERASMUS program. She also works with female Mexican writers on the Proyecto Escritoras Mexicanas Contemporáneas and the podcast “Hablemos Escritoras.” A Texas Book Festival featured author, she is also a passionate advocate for rural and low-income communities and founder of Casa del Sol, an orphanage for 100 children in operation since 1992.
Pacheco’s keynote address drew on her academic and personal experience, focusing on the theme “Mexico: Beyond Stereotypes” and challenging students to think about Mexico in a new way. She gave her audience a very personal view of her hometown, Puebla. With a short video, Pacheco showed students the diversity of culture and lifestyles in Mexico, from art to industry, beaches and mountains, rural communities to urban centers, and cultural heritage to modern day sports. She went on to give the students a brief summary of the evolution of Mexican culture, politics, and history, highlighting important figures and contemporary challenges.
“Mexico is not just what you see in the movies,” Pacheco told the audience. “We need to think about Mexico beyond stereotypes. It is a large country, and very complex. Mexico is a country of contrasts, of history, extraordinary people, and endless opportunities.”
She also highlighted the strong relationship that already exists between UT Austin and Mexico, highlighting the research of UT professors like Dr. Kelly McDonough in the College of Liberal Arts, whose research focuses on how indigenous people in Mexico have utilized the written word to shape and respond to modernity as intellectuals within and beyond their communities of origin, from the colonial period through the present day; Dr. Patricia Wilson in the School of Architecture, whose research in sustainable community development focuses on individual and social transformation through civic engagement and collaborative action; Dr. Ricardo C. Ainslie of the Center for Mexican American Studies and the College of Education who explores the intersection of psychology and culture through such topics as the psychological experience of immigration, ethnic conflicts within communities, and the relationship between individual and collective identity; and Dr. Timothy Keitt in the College of Natural Sciences whose research addresses the structure and dynamics of ecological systems.
Pacheco emphasized the many industries and fields of study where Mexico provides an opportunity for UT students, encouraging them to study abroad and explore their majors in Mexico in fields ranging from communications, public relations, journalism, film, art and architecture, to health and fitness, kinesiology, social work, law, political science, foreign affairs, international relations, civil engineering, and geosciences.
“Sometimes, we don’t want to study abroad because we are afraid of missing out, afraid of being a stranger,” she told the students. “Fear is like having a chain that traps us at the bottom of a swimming pool. It is hard to break the chain, but I want to invite you to not be afraid. Now is the time to become international, to become leaders, to develop strong networks, to join the worldwide community because your identity and your professional future will greatly benefit by knowing others and being more aware.”
Building international networks and acquiring skills to be leaders in a global economy is one of the core objectives of Texas Global’s Global Professional Training (GPT), which offers students an opportunity to engage in a global learning environment without leaving campus while showing them the numerous opportunities they have to take their education abroad.
"GPT Mexico is a beneficial event to attend because not only do you expand your knowledge of the different opportunities a country rich in culture such as Mexico has to offer you, you build professional connections that can open many doors in the future, and meet like-minded individuals who you feel an instant bond with," described senior Shalom Hernandez.
At this year’s GPT Mexico, student participants at the conference represented twelve colleges and schools and every classification from freshman to graduate student. The top five majors represented at GPT included International Relations and Global Studies, Economics, Advertising, Public Relations, and Spanish. A large majority of the students had not attended a previous GPT, but 25 students reported they had attended GPT Asia in the fall of 2017 or GPT Mexico in the spring of 2017.
On the first day of the conference which focused on Mexican culture, students experienced the differences across Mexico’s regions and also heard from Consul General of Mexico in Austin, Carlos González Gutiérrez on trends, upcoming political transitions, and the close economic and cultural ties between Texas and Mexico. The second day of the conference focused on networking and professional development with sessions that touched on cultural analysis in a professional context, DACA and immigration trends, representing international experience in your job search, and opportunities for study abroad and research in Mexico, as well as employment opportunities in Mexico and the U.S.
"What I loved most about this conference was learning more about a country and a people who are so often disparaged in our news media," said junior Ryanne Howard. "It was an amazing experience to explore the culture, history, and lives of its people, even if only for two days. Overall, this conference was a great experience for me."