The news from Central America has been painful and difficult for some time now. Economic and political tensions have led to institutional breakdowns, a humanitarian crisis and dislocation for many individuals and families. Their plight, rather than evoking compassion and understanding, has been used by many political leaders to generate fear, divisiveness while exploiting political leverage. This symposium seeks to investigate the situation and shine a light on the struggle of so many individuals and families, peer into what has gone wrong yesterday and today, and explore the strength of those who against great odds continue to seek a better life for their families.
Created in collaboration between the College’s Hispanic Latino Cultural Center, the Modern Languages and Politics, Economics and Law departments and Amelie A. Wallace Gallery, the two-day series of sessions will include the participation of world-renowned artists and social activists American documentary photographer, Susan Meiselas, and Guatemalan human rights filmmaker, Luis Argueta.
On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, the symposium continues with "Breaking the Silence of Immigrant Worker Abuse," consisting of a screening and discussion of the film “The U-turn,” with director Luis Argueta. The documentary narrates the transformational journey of the immigrant workers who broke the silence about the abuses they endured at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa and the community that would not abandon them. Argueta is a distinguished film director and producer who is one of Guatemala’s most famous filmmakers. His coming-of-age film "The Silence of Neto" was Guatemala’s first Oscar submission. He is considered one of Guatemala’s national living icons and recently won the National Peace Corps Association’s 2019 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award, named after SUNY Old Westbury’s first president. This film screening and discussion will take start at 1 p.m. in room 1100 at the New Academic Building.
The symposium will conclude with “Fotokids 28 Years in Guatemala Training at Risk Youth in Creative Media,” with Nancy McGirr at 3:50 p.m. in room 1100 at the New Academic Building. The founder of the project, which was called originally “Out of the Dump,” will talk about giving cameras to eight children who lived in Guatemala City’s municipal garbage dump with their families and documenting their lives to having grown to help hundreds of at-risk children affected by poverty and violence by giving them a chance to dream of a better life, using photography, graphic design, media technology and vocational training experience as a tools for self-expression.