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College has long been considered a place for experimenting, learning new things and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Many students use college as a chance to meet and relate to people they never would have otherwise. The XIX Spanish Graduate Literature Conference, Talk Series, & Pragda Film Festival works to present a forum for just that on Friday, April 15. 

Hosted by the School of International Letters and Cultures, the theme of this year's event is "Digital Humanities in Human Rights, Diasporas, Gender & Film." It will also feature keynote speakers, Marisa Duarte and Sujey Vega

The leader in planning the literature conference is Ph.D. digital literature and digital humanities student Jennifer Byron. She said that the committees worked hard to establish an environment that would make students feel comfortable and open to talking about sometimes difficult topics.

"It’s important to open up this dialogue," Byron said. "That’s why this conference and the showcase is important because it can open up the minds of students."

Students will be given the opportunity to share their own research in regards to the theme of human rights. After these student speakers, Vega and Duarte will speak and partake in a Q&A session on their research and work.

"I think that it’s very important to shed light on these issues … Unfortunately we only see the surface of a certain culture," Byron said.

Following the conference, there will be an opportunity to see a screening of the 2013 movie "I Am from Chile," directed and co-written by Chilean director Gonzalo Diaz. The event was planned by Spanish and Latin American literature graduate student Xiomara Nuñez. As a native of Spain, Nuñez said that the film aspect of the event seeks to showcase narratives that are not often heard. 

"We wanted a film on immigration and offering another perspective aside from the Mexican/U.S. border," she said. "It’s an easy and fun way to be educated in these topics but also allows critical dialogue."

Nuñez said oftentimes, certain cultures dominate the Latin American film industry, leaving behind smaller contenders like Chile, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which don't get as much attention.

"I Am from Chile" tells the story of Salvador (Diego Ruiz), a young man who moves to London from Chile to study English and travel through Europe. When a financial crisis back home strikes, Salvador must take on dangerous jobs to make ends meet and stay in the place he's come to know and love.


Nuñez said what sets this film apart is that it strays from the typical "rags-to-riches" immigration story. Salvador comes from an upper middle class socioeconomic status and only once he becomes an immigrant does he realize the harsh reality of prejudices and struggles he once didn't know existed. This narrative shows a different side of immigration, one that will feel particularly different for audiences who are used to hearing about U.S./Mexico border relations. 

Secondary education junior Steven Sanchez said it's beneficial to show films that highlight different cultures. 

"Ultimately our country is evolving into a very diverse country," Sanchez said. "I do feel that these films are important for those that don’t have a clear knowledge of other backgrounds."  

Sanchez said he identifies as Latino and his are studies focused on Spanish-based content. He said that as a student of color at ASU, he doesn't feel disadvantaged or neglected. However, he maintained that it's still necessary to make sure these topics are discussed and represented. He said these events can help create community and a sense of home for students of color.

"This lets us try to understand the other individuals ... and reflect and solve issues of society in a calm manner," Sanchez said.

The literature conference will be from 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in room LL104 of the G. Homer Durham Language and Literature building on the Tempe campus. Those interested in the film screening following the conference should head over to the Life Science Tower E-Wing (Room 104).

Related links:

'Festival de España' brings Spanish vibes to the city

ASU students use social media to showcase culture, debunk misconceptions

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