OLAC 2023 is an opportunity for all students and faculty to present research or investigations they have conducted, specifically in Latin America. Throughout the two days, they will cover a wide range of interests including current events, history, politics and language. Saturday will also include a talk from Keynote Speaker Elvia Andia Grágeda about the inclusion and recognition of Indigenous Peoples in modern spaces.
In addition to the main speaker and panel events, at 6 p.m. Friday evening, a screening of “Return to the Andes” will be shown in Walter Hall 145 accompanied by a pop-up exhibit and an appearance from the director and protagonist of the film.
Caroline Rhude, a junior studying Spanish and social work, said there is a multitude of opportunities OLAC 2023 has to offer for all students. As a presenter at the conference this weekend, she believes anyone who is interested even in the slightest should come to attend.
“I think it would be a fantastic opportunity,” she said. “First of all, I encourage and I always promote the Spanish language and culture. It’s not just the language, it’s the culture – when you understand the people, I think you understand yourself a little bit better. Plus I think it’ll just be a fun opportunity to kind of see what your peers are doing.”
Rhude is speaking at the event on influential women writers among other students, both undergraduate and graduate. Over 70 presenters are projected to be at the conference this weekend presenting in Spanish, English and Portuguese.
“From a presentation perspective, I think it’s an opportunity to explore diverse and arguably controversial topics that you might not do otherwise,” she said.
Another student speaker at the conference, Agustín Klaric, a graduate student studying Spanish literature and linguistics, came to OU in the fall of 2021 from Argentina. He contributed to the conference through dispersed analysis of political speeches from ex-Argentinian presidents. His focus is eco-linguistics, and how language affects people’s actions toward the environment.
Klaric said this is his first time in a conference of this size.
“It works both ways,” he said. “On the one hand, it gave me the chance to show what I do for the first time, not only with my peers but also with professors or people that have a lot more experience than I do. At the same time, since we are also organized, it’s great to see when things go well.”
Klaric’s excitement and hard work are eminent as he prepares for the upcoming weekend.
“It’s really nice to see that our effort pays off,” he said. “We’ve had really nice feedback and reviews of people who were here.”
Rhude and Klaric pointed out the many benefits of going to the event, especially getting the chance to learn about something new or experience something outside of everyday student life.
“Really what this conference is trying to promote is understanding Latin American culture, its literature, its history, its politics, linguistics better,” said Rhude. “It’s really just kind of seeing what other people are exploring, representation, things like that.”
Elizabeth Weisel, a senior studying Spanish, has always had an interest in language and culture, which is reflected in the many student organizations she is a part of. For over a year, she has been working on her thesis about the civil war that happened in El Salvador from 1979 to 1982 and how the consequences of it are still seen today. At OLAC 2023, she will have the opportunity to present her research.
“I’m really excited to present on research that I’ve been conducting for quite a while now and to get other people aware of the issues since it is such a specific issue that isn’t really broadcast all that much in the media, or doesn’t gain that much attention and traction in the United States,” she said.
With so much to look forward to, OLAC 2023 is a great opportunity for students and faculty looking to learn something new this weekend.
“I definitely think (students) should come to learn,” said Weisel. “Come with an open mind about what they could potentially gain in terms of a learning experience through attending the panels. We have a lot of really interesting students with interesting backgrounds and so it’s a great place to meet other people that you might not have met before.”