Latino fraternity hosts Pan American symposium

Elisabeth Roche

The Brothers of Phi Iota Alpha Latino Fraternity, Inc. hosted their third annual Pan American Day Celebration including a symposium and panel on emerging powers and political and economic trends in Latin America on April 14 in the Villanova Room.

The symposium featured presentations from Miguel Centellas, Julio F. Carrion and Fernando Trevino-Martinez.

The celebration also included performances by a jazz quartet which played salsa, bolero and meringue while guests were served an authentic Cuban and Puerto Rican dinner catered by the mother of an alumnus of the fraternity.

“We know that people come for the really good food and really good music, but when people come, there is an educational hook that shows others other things about the Latino American culture that they may not have previously known or considered, ” President of Phi Iota Alpha Raul Garcia said.

Pan American Day is held annually on April 14 and is an international holiday that focuses on inter-American harmony and serves to recognize unity between cultures in the Americas.

The event generally emphasizes Latin American culture and aims to show the solidarity of the Americas.

The event has grown over the past three years, with the first year being small and the attendance primarily Villanova professors.

The second year of the event expanded to include Villanova students, and this year there were many students (both from Villanova and from other universities), professors and members of the surrounding community in attendance.

In past years, the speakers consisted of Villanova professors; however, this year they included professors and speakers who were experts from outside the Villanova community.

Pan Americanism is defined as “the belief that all the nations in this hemisphere will one day seek diplomatic, economic and social cooperation for the good of the people of the Americas.”

After the presentations, music and dinner those in attendance were invited to ask questions to a panel including all of the speakers.

An even mix of students, professors and community members were in attendance to support the fraternity and the idea of Pan Americanism.

The event started at 5:31 p.m. because the fraternity was founded in 1931. In addition, the white roses in the centerpieces symbolized the eternal friendship among Latin American nations.

“A lot of the things that we do – from decorations to the time we start things – are intentional,” Garcia said. “A lot of people don’t pick up on these small things, but the fraternity brothers do, and we are glad when people ask because it has hidden meaning that we pride ourselves in. We pride ourselves in that everything means something and we think that’s the fundamental core in our strength as a fraternity.”

Within the panel of three presenters, the first was Carrion, who gave a presentation on his findings in conducting a Latin American Public Opinion poll.

Carrion is a chair of the Political Science department at the University of Delaware, specializing in the Latin American Comparative Politics.

He also talked about how the Obama administration plans to work with Latin America to improve relations.

He was followed by Trevino-Martinez who provided expertise from his years working for the Mexican Consulate and focuses on international law and human rights.

Centellas, an associate professor from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, presented last and talked about Brazil as a leader in Latin America and the creation of a Pan American Union.

The Phi Iota Alpha Latino Fraternity, Inc. is composed of eight members who are dedicated to empowering the Latino community by providing social and cultural programs and activities pertaining to Latin American Culture. They strive to motivate people and unite the community.

This day being Phi Iota Alpha’s main event, the fraternity distinguishes itself from others on campus.

“Our induction process is different from any other fraternity, it is academically based on Pan American ideals, and the fraternity educates the brothers throughout the process of Pan Americanism and how they enact it in their lives,” Garcia said.

The event was co-sponsored by SGA, the office for Latin American Studies, the Department of Political Science, the Center of Multicultural Affairs, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student Life, the University Shop and La Copa Supermarket.