UWI students host LatAm Expo
Paul H. Williams, Hospitality Jamaica Writer
Despite Jamaica's proximity to Latin American countries, the establishment here of embassies from those countries, and a thrust by tourism stakeholders to entice visitors from Central and South America, not much is known about that region in some quarters.
So to help improve the knowledge of Latin American cultures, some bachelor of science tourism management students of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, hosted a Latin American cultural expo in the multifunctional room of the main library on Friday, November 15.
Planning and executing the event was a partial fulfilment of the requirements for the completion of one of their hotel management courses. "We, as a group, decided to do a Latin American cultural expo, seeing that Central America is right there next to us, and most persons do not know about their culture, so we thought that we would inform them," Shamone Burris, one of the student coordinators of the expo told Hospitality Jamaica.
Burris said though it was a "rocky" start, "it is definitely not a failure. I think we did pretty well."
According to Burris, planning an event such as an expo was an eye-opener because she didn't know that so much behind-the-scenes planning took place. The most important thing she learnt from the experience was, "teamwork does a whole lot ... . It's all about the teamwork".
And the teamwork seemed to have paid off for the group, as Chantal Thomas, vice-president of the UWI, Mona Spanish Club, thought "it was a good show of Latin American culture considering the short timeframe in which the students had to put the expo together".
The expo consisted of audio-visual presentations on the cultures of Latin America, exhibition desks, cultural presentations, give-aways based on questions about Latin American countries, Spanish dance lessons and contests. Apart from the informative elements there was much fun and excitement, especially with the dances, throughout the afternoon. The sampling of tasty Latin American food was perhaps the high point of the event, which actually ended with the breaking of a piñata.
Martha Esmeralda Nunes, Spanish lecturer and adviser to the Spanish Club, and who won one of the Spanish dance contests with partner, student Leroy Anedu, was also positive with her feedback to the students efforts. "It has been really good and I believe the students would be getting a good grade. They have been working tirelessly, and they have really covered different cultural aspects of Latin America."
In speaking of the presence of the Panamanian Embassy at the expo, Corey Whyte, administrative secretary at the said embassy, said, "It was very important for us be here, as it (the expo) showcases our culture, it showcases the fact that we are expanding the Panama Canal and that means a lot for Jamaica. We really enjoyed the opportunity."