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The events, which start at lunchtime on the esplanade, are aimed at students, but researchers and staff will find it just as interesting.

What’s this first Latin America Day all about? It’s about discovering a continent many are not familiar with, bar certain stereotypes. We want to showcase the collaborations we already have on the Latin American front, at VUB, but also with our sister university ULB, and our link to the city of Brussels.

From lunchtime onward there will be numerous activities:

We are kicking things off at 12 o’clock noon with Latin American-inspired food at the restaurant and the food trucks on the esplanade, but there will also be a salsa dance session for all to join, with Frankie Morelez, followed by typical Cuban dance at 1pm.

From 2pm onward the tent behind building Q will be open so you can visit more than 20 booths from 15 countries, university partners from the RIESAL network (the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Universidad del Norte (Colombia)), some VUB departments and services such as the International Relations office (IRMO) and the VUB Chair of Social Entrepreneurship, but also EUMex-Connect will be there, the ULB’s Conexx-Europe, the Instituto Cervantes, the AlterBrussels organisation (linked to Oxfam), and the Casa de America Latina.

What will they offer? A mix of information on what there is to do and see in the various countries, but there will also be tasting sessions, goodies will be handed out and if you receive a VIP passport at the entrance to the fair, you can go and collect 6 stamps from across the booths, and exchange the full passport at the IRMO stand for a VUB gadget! [continue reading below image]

  • From 16.15 till 18.00 the academic part of the programme will take place in Building D, D0.02, with a panel discussion entitled “Building Bridges between Latin America and Europe through Education and Scientific Cooperation”. Opening comments will be made by VUB rector Prof Caroline Pauwels, as well as the ambassadors from Mexico and Cuba. The panel will discuss the various projects and partnerships across Latin American countries and how these work, and will include,
  • Prof dr Lucas Melgaco, Brazil, Law & Criminology Faculty;
  • Prof dr Veerle De Bosscher, Chile, Physical Education & Physiotherapy Faculty;
  • Prof dr ir Luc de Vuyst, Sciences & Bioengineering Sciences Faculty;
  • Maximiliano Alonso, Director General, Conexx Europe (ULB);
  • RIESAL representative: Ismael Grôtte, Gestor de Proyecto Erasmus+ RIESAL, Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico.

To close off the day, drinks and food will be served in the tent behind building Q, with some live music from the Cuban band, El Nuevo Tumbao, so a proper Fiesta Latina!

The reason behind organising this event is many-fold. It is part of the VUB International Relations office thematic days (more will come over the course of the year) to highlight the different ways for students and staff to be active internationally, not only by going abroad, but also within Brussels and at the VUB itself. There are many opportunities to stimulate ‘internationalisation @ home’, and you can find out more from the booths from the Instituto Cervantes, Casa de America Latina, the language tables organised by ACTO and IRMO where you can have lunch at the VUB restaurant on Thursdays at 1pm and join the Spanish language table where you can practise your language skills in an informal and relaxed setting. And of course, there are all the international students who are here on the VUB campus with whom you can mix and mingle. Do you know we have more than 200 students from across Latin America? Maybe hanging out with them will improve your language skills and widen your circle of friends! [continue reading below image]

If you’d rather find out for yourself what the various Latin American countries have to offer, then have a chat with the embassy staff at the various booths during the Latin America Fair. We’ll have stands from Ecuador, Panama, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Boliva and a shared Central America stand for Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. More information on where you can go in Latin America for studies, internships and volunteer work can be obtained from the IMRO stand, but also at the Go Abroad Fair on 17 October. An additional event will take place just before the panel discussion starts: our colleagues from EUMex-Connect will be at the Fair, but their Managing Director and co-founder Dr David Oliva Uribe, who is Mexican and a Senior Researcher at the Faculty of Engineering, will receive an award from the Mexican Embassy in Belgium. The Mexican government every year awards a prize called “Mexicanos Distinguidos” (i.e., Distinguished Mexicans). It is to recognise the excellent professional careers and commitment to Mexico from overseas for those Mexicans living abroad. This year, for Belgium, Dr David Oliva Uribe will receive this commemorative medal. The handing-over ceremony will take place just before the academic panel discussion starts in the presence of the Mexican Ambassador to Belgium and the VUB rector Professor Caroline Pauwels.

In addition, during the week of 8-12 October, the RIESAL network will have a meeting at the VUB. RIESAL is part of Erasmus+ and is the Regional network for the promotion of the Internationalisation of Higher Education in Latin America. Its objectives are to contribute to improvements in management for the internationalisation of higher education institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean, and it means that a number of Latin America higher education institutions will be present throughout the day on 11 October for any questions you may have.

All in all, there are numerous reasons to come and check out the Latin America day – there will be something for everyone!