The Value in Taking a LALC Course

By Aly Fosbury ’21, Life & Style Editor

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I spent a large portion of my childhood associating Mexico, which shared a border with my home state of California, as essentially the entirety of Latin America. 

Obviously, as I grew older I heard about other nations such as Venezuela, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Ecuador, but I never saw them as relevant to other regions such as Western Europe or East Asia. Boy was I wrong.

During the fall of this school year I took a class called Social Movements in Latin America having almost no understanding of the region at all and suddenly I was shown a region that had been destroyed by colonialism and suffered, as individual nations, severe economic turmoil and political repression. 

As a political science major, this instantly interested me and since then I have loved learning about waves of political repression and liberty across the entire region as well as current issues that citizens face throughout Latin America. After this class, I began to think: Why had I never considered Latin America a relevant region? Why would a region that closely borders my own seem so insignificant for so long?

Never once do I remember learning about our relationship as the United States to Latin America, and I am disappointed that I didn’t because there can be many parallels drawn between our region and Latin America (particularly Brazil and the United States today). 

If I hadn’t taken a chance and chosen a political science class that focused on Latin America, it is safe to assume that I would not have much contact with the region besides a handful of Spanish courses at Dickinson. 

However, my course this semester on government and politics in Latin America has transformed my perspective on my Philosophy of Punishment Course as well as my Human Rights class and my course on U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Arab World. 

While some people feel as though having an understanding of America politics, or western politics in general, is sufficient enough to understand how the rest of the world does or should function is a gross misconception. 

By learning about the severe turn to the right in Brazil has given me a new perspective on the current presidency in the United States and what might have contributed to Trump’s election. 

Even though not every political science major will necessarily take a course that is cross-listed in Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies (LALC), I highly suggest that if you have a free space in your schedule, no matter your discipline, a LALC course will provide you with an insightful perspective on our world from a region that is often overlooked.