The passionate discussions we had in our first meetings about what is happening in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as with the region’s immigrants in the United States, led us to create a permanent group that could work as a platform for all members of the Sanford Community to promote academic, social, cultural or career initiatives related to the region.
Sanford LAC, which is led by both MPP and MIDP students, is the first student organization with a Latin American and Caribbean focus at Sanford. Currently, we are 23 students from eight different countries: Mexico, Chile, Peru, Dominican Republic, Brazil, USA, France, and Ecuador.
The ties between the Sanford School of Public Policy and Latin America and the Caribbean are strong. Not only are there 19 students from this region currently pursuing their master’s degree at Sanford, but also one of the first projects of the Duke Center for International Development was to serve as the Secretariat for the Central American Peace Commission in the late 1980s. The Commission successfully drafted the Arias Peace Plan to unite the region.
Throughout the years, Sanford faculty have provided advice and conducted studies around the region on different topics including economic, social, and environmental policy. So far more than 90 students from Latin America and the Caribbean have graduated from Sanford and more students will come.
Sanford LAC’s objective is to build on these strong foundations and bring Sanford, Latin America, and the Caribbean closer to each other. In order to achieve this objective, our mission is to:
Lead and support academic, career, outreach, cultural, and social efforts of the Sanford community focused on Latin America and the Caribbean in order to strengthen collaboration and engagement between the region and Sanford.
In addition, we have defined 4 strategic lines. The first one is Academic Affairs. We would like to increase the discussion about Latin American and Caribbean issues by creating discussion groups between faculty and students, bringing speakers, and participating in conferences. For example, on February 14th some members of Sanford LAC participated in two panels at the UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
The second strategic line is Networking and Career Outreach. We would like to increase networking opportunities with Duke Alumni interested in the region. We have also started to create partnerships with other Latino groups at Duke, such as the Latino Student Council, and the Working Group of the Environment in Latin America (WGELA).
The third strategic line is Branding Sanford in LAC and vice versa. We would like to support incoming Sanford students from the region. We also want to promote Sanford in LAC and attract talented students.
Finally, our fourth strategic line is Community and Integration. We would like to organize cultural events, such as potlucks and Spanish conversation clubs. At the same time we want to get involved in community activities with local Latino population.
We kindly want to express our gratitude to Dean Kelly Brownell, Prof. Fernando Fernholz, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and to the MPP and MIDP staff who have supported us during this process.We extend the invitation to join Sanford LAC to all the members of the Sanford community interested in any way in this region.