The Collegian
Monday, September 25, 2023

International Education Week highlights Chilean culture

<p>&nbsp;A popular social spot on campus, the Weinstein International Center has added a tent to its courtyard for students to eat outside when it rains and maintain social distance.&nbsp;</p>

 A popular social spot on campus, the Weinstein International Center has added a tent to its courtyard for students to eat outside when it rains and maintain social distance. 

Chilean student protest movement leader Nicolás Valenzuela and renowned poet Gladys Gonzalez will be among the scholars and experts speaking with members of the University of Richmond community next week for International Education Week and its focus on Chile. 

The program comes at a time when challenges in Chile resonate beyond its borders, Jenny Pribble, UR professor of political science and international studies, said. Pribble also studies Chile and helped organize the festivities during the week. 

Organizers wanted to focus on a Latin American nation, and they decided that studying Chile, with its constitutional convention under way, would be relevant, she said.

“International Education Week falls the week before Chile’s elections," Pribble said. "It experienced this severe crisis of democratic legitimacy, mass uprising and protests. So much of the world is experiencing crises of democratic legitimacy right now, learning from the Chilean experience is particularly instructive in this historical moment for the U.S. and other countries.” 

Valenzuela, one of the original leaders of Chile’s student-led uprisings that called for democratic reforms, is among the experts on Chile who will be visiting UR this week.

Pribble said she had seen more student activism on campus in the last year than ever before and explained that the impact of mass mobilization through the Chilean experience could be a powerful message to UR students on what they are capable of. 

She thought it would be inspiring for students to learn about Chile, a place where students were able to organize a mass movement that inspired other sectors of society to follow them and begin a democratic movement, she said.

Valenzuela will be speaking at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 in the Ukrop Auditorium after a lecture by historian Ángela Vergara. 

González, another presenter, will be streamed into the Forum at 5 p.m. on Monday Nov. 15. She is celebrated in Chile for her poetry and has published six major works. 

The Heilman Dining Center and Passport Café will serve Chilean cuisine throughout the week, Martha Merritt, dean of the Office of International Education, said. Chilean exchange students consulted with the dining hall chefs on the menu for Wednesday’s “Chile Night,” which will include recipes from their families. Past International Education Week themes had previously been criticized for being unauthentic and, in the case of East Asia week in 2019, homogenizing various distinct cultures. 

Ana Paula Alvarado, UR ’21, is a Honduran graduate of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies who began working for the OIE as its executive secretary after graduating. She said that, while students may not see it, there was a lot of work and deliberative thought going into International Education Week programming. 

“The amount of hard work that goes into it for just five days, it’s insane,” Alvarado said. “I enjoy getting to know where all these little things came from.” 

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La Once, the Chilean tradition of high tea, will be held at the OIE 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday. Alvarado discovered the origin of La Once which got its name from the 11-letter alcohol, Aguardiente, that workers used to drink during their break. . 

“We created this mode of celebrating international education week in this way by entering another country together,” Merritt said. 

UR’s celebration of the state-department-sponsored week is the fullest embrace of the initiative on a college campus, Merritt added. 

The celebration of International Education Week at UR was started by Merritt and the OIE in 2017 as a way to learn about other cultures through relevant histories and traditions. The OIE works with faculty and students to shape a program ranging from scholarship to sharing traditional foods. 

The full list of programming for the week is posted on the office of International Education’s website

Contact contributor Eli Kline at

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