Imagery of Regent people and campus

Living Latino: U.S. Narratives in Discussion

By Rachel Judy | February 23, 2011

Panelists discuss several topics at the Living Latino Global Roundtable.
Photo by Patrick Wright

Regent University's annual Global Roundtable event is designed to provide an open forum for discussion, sharing information, and questions about different people and cultures. What it really comes down to, explained Dr. Corné Bekker, director of Regent's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), is that "the unity we have in Christ can affirm and encourage."

At this year's event, held on Thursday, Feb. 17, in the Main Theatre, Regent students, faculty and staff had the chance to learn more about Latinos in the United States in a dialogue titled, "Living Latino: U.S. Narratives."

The event is in partial fulfillment of Regent's goal to increase the Christ-centered global competency of students, staff and faculty.

Panel members included Michael Hernandez, professor in the School of Law; Sandra Smith, Director of International Programming at CBN; Dr. Magda Serrano '06 (Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship), vice chairman of Regent's board of trustees; and Dr. Elizabeth Suárez, associate professor in the School of Psychology & Counseling. Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies served as moderator.

While the discussion touched on several points, including faith, political involvement and education, two primary themes emerged. First, each of the panelists stressed the need to bridge the cultural gap through building intentional relationships with Latinos rather than grouping them together and perpetuating stereotypes.

"The Latino community is very diverse ... the stereotypes are not always accurate," Hernandez explained. "The main thing is that people want to be treated as an individual," said Smith. Suárez pointed out that truly understanding Latinos and their way of thinking comes from developing a friendship. "I think it's getting to have a cup of tea or coffee ... get to know their life," she urged.

Serrano told a story about her time as a graduate student and how much she struggled to communicate with her professors because, in the Latino culture, she said, "We build the relationship first, then we close the business." The importance of developing relationships that span cultures was the second point each of the panelists urged the audience to consider. "Latinos are able to bridge this gap because we are better able to understand both sides," Hernandez explained, referencing a continuing cultural gap between blacks and whites in America. "Our ability to see both sides ... uniquely positions us to be a bridge builder."

The Global Roundtable was sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, the Center for Teaching & Learning, and the QEP planning committee. The purpose of the roundtable is to learn about populations and heritages in order to better communicate, collaborate and change the world.

Regent's QEP is a component of the university's reaccreditation process with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Access resources and learn more about Living Latino: U.S. Narratives.

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