- In this weekly Q&A series we interview the members of the programme committee for the conference “Winds of Change and Streams of Solidarity: Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe in the 21st Century”. This is the second interview in the series.
- Why should Norwegians/Europeans care about what’s going on in Latin America and the Caribbean?
“Europe and Latin America are intrinsically linked! I think most Norwegians never realize that Latin America is always present in their everyday lives, in one shape or another. From chocolates, to pizza, to avocado toast to music and books, and even telenovelas. There is so much about Latin America that is ubiquitous, and hopefully we can help make those links more concious.”
2. What can students learn from visiting Latin America or the Caribbean?
“So many things come to mind! Of course, our music and how much we enjoy dancing. Music is everywhere for us and shapes every moment of our say. It is hard to find a Latin American that is not humming or swinging along to the beat, even when it is just in our headphones.
Academically? We have centuries-old universities with rich traditions and histories. We have ancient ruins of past civilizations that were as advanced, or even more, than Europeans at the time of the invasion in 1492.
Being Guatemalan, I can’t imagine a better learning experience than to see our diversity. There are more than 20 different ethnic groups living alongside each other in my country, and it translates into a rainbow of clothing, music, languages, and food. ”
3. What is your favourite place in Latin America and the Caribbean, and why?
“My favourite place is a balcony facing Fuego Volcano (Guatemala) in the mornings. Having a cup of coffee while it slowly and surely puffs smoke and a little lava will always feel like home to me. The mountains in Bergen are beautiful, but they aren’t active volcanoes!”
4. If you should recommend one book from/on Latin America and the Caribbean, which would that be?
“I will recommend my favourite short story writer, Augusto Monterroso. His story The Dinosaur is still a reference for how to write to say what I mean and mean what I say.”
5. And if you should recommend one film or movie from/on Latin America and the Caribbean, and why?
“Ixcanul, a strong depiction of a teenage girl who is about to be given away to an arranged marriage inside a coffee plantation. It shows the poverty and exclusion that Mayans live, and how the health system routinely fails those that are most vulnerable. It also, very masterfully, shows how important volcanoes are for Guatemalans, even when we are not indigenous.”
6. What is your favourite telenovela, and why?
“I think I will leave this to the experts. I was never allowed to watch any growing up and never got into the habit!”
7. Who is your favourite music artist from Latin America or the Caribbean?
“Natalia Lafourcade and Gaby Moreno, beautiful voices accompanied by their guitars, singing about our land and culture. Gaby’s version of Luna de Xelaju will make me long for my volcanoes and the everlasting spring of Guatemala every time.”
8. When you invite Norwegians home, what dish/food from or inspired by Latin America and the Caribbean do you cook? And why is this dish/food special to you?
“I make arepas! These cornmeal ‘fat tortillas’ are not Central American, and so not part of the culture I live in, but through my Venezuelan and Colombian friends, I have come to love them and to be an ambassador for them every chance I get! From my own country, I always make sure to have fresh Guatemalan coffee and Zacapa rum, the best in the world!”
9. What is the one thing that Norwegians could learn from Latin Americans and Caribbeans?
“I would love for Norwegians to be more easy-going about social interaction. Not everything needs to be planned a month in advance, and just having a good laugh with a friend shouldn’t need weeks of planning. Hugging when we haven’t seen each other in very long, and of course, how to turn everything into a party!”