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The Glendon Independent Research Committee holds Symposium on Venezuela

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The 14th Annual Glendon International Studies Symposium focusing on Venezuela attracted over 150 attendees on February 28th. The organizers succeeded in bringing a unique international experience to Glendon and the York community.

The keynote address was given by Gregory Wilpert, a German-American sociologist and freelance writer, editor of the venezuelanalysis Web site and author of Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The Policies of the Chavez Government (2007). There were several speakers from Canada and the US, including James Early, director of Cultural Heritage Policy at the Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution. Early was part of a panel discussion looking at North America and Venezuela relations.

Left: The 2009 Independent Research Committee: front from left to right: Andrea Hiebert, Clara Wong, Ekaterina Malyuzhinets, Avril Lang. Back from left to right: Andrew Campbell, Katherine Hall, Nicholas Hersh

Maria Victor, a Venezuelan sociologist and policy analyst, spoke about geopolitics and security at the conference along with writer, journalist and activist Judy Rebick, former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women from 1990 to 1993 and founder of rabble.ca – an online news and discussion site. Rebick is the Canadian Auto Workers’ Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University and the author of Transforming Power: From the Personal to the Political (2009).

The conference was also attended by Mirña Quero de Pena, Consul General of the Venezuelan Consulate in Toronto and José Rodriguez de la Sierra, Head of the Political Section of the Embassy, both of whom expressed their gratitude and commended the Independent Research group on their commitment to broadening the horizons of the general public on Venezuela, in spite of several challenges. In addition to the disruption caused by the lengthy strike at the university, some of the invited Venezuelan panelists were unable to attend, because their visas were denied by the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela.

Right: Cultural performance: Eliana Cuevas

In the morning, participants could attend a session either on ‘Spanning the Americas: North America & Venezuelan Relations’ or on ‘Economic & Trade Perspectives on Venezuelan Development: Past, Present & Future’. Next, they had the choice between ‘The Geopolitics & Security of Venezuela in Latin America’ or ‘The Development of Venezuelan Social Policies’ in the second morning panel. These four panels examined issues highly pertinent to the development of Venezuela.

During the intermission, the guests sampled some authentic Venezuelan-inspired cuisine and enjoyed a wonderful cultural performance by Eliana Cuevas, a Venezuelan-born, Toronto-based Latin American vocalist and her band. After the keynote speech by Gregory Wilpert, all attendees were welcomed to the afternoon panel on ‘Chávez: The Man and the Movement’.

The 2008-2009 Independent Research Committee (IRC) of Glendon’s International Studies Program consisted of fourth-year students Andrew Campbell, Katherine Hall, Nicholas Hersh, Andrea Hiebert, Avril Lang, Ekaterina Malyuzhinets and Clara Wong.

Left: Keynote speaker: Dr. Gregory Wilpert

Glendon’s annual Student International Studies Symposium is a project entirely conceived and managed by students. It was initiated during the 1995-96 academic year by a group of highly motivated students, eager to deepen their knowledge and experience of foreign countries or regions and their relationship with Canada. The key to the project’s success lies mainly in the boundless enthusiasm, dedication and creativity of the students involved.

In 2003, the Symposium on Russia was the recipient of the Student Leadership in Internationalization Award from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE); and in 2004, the Symposium on India received the Award for Excellence in Internationalization from Scotia Bank and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

For more about the Venezuela Symposium, please visit their website: http://www.venezuelasymposium.org. Pictures of the conference will be uploaded shortly. For information about previous projects please visit: http://www.glendon.yorku.ca/internationalstudies/symposium.html.


A picture from the reception after Symposium - 3 generations of Symposium organizers: Turkey, Egypt & Venezuela

The IRC wishes to thank the many sponsors, donors and volunteers for their support. We would like to give special thanks to York University’s Office of the Vice-President Academic, TD Insurance Corp., York Alumni, Friends of Glendon, Dr. Lorna Marsden, the Glendon College Student Union, the Pepsi committee and the Office of Glendon’s Associate Principal, Student Affairs.

The 15th Annual International Studies Symposium planned for 2009-2010 will focus on the Caribbean Islands.

Article submitted by Clara Wong, communications & logistics director for the Independent Research Committee on Venezuela

Published on March 24, 2009