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Latino Communities Conference Is a Bridge Among Cultures

October 3, 2013 - archive

Latino Conference WCU

As the largest minority population in the United States at 16.9 percent, Latinos have brought their diverse strengths, skills and needs to a vast community that is already a melting pot of cultures. Their growing presence has significantly impacted America's social, economic, political and cultural arenas.

By hosting the annual Latino Communities Conference "Building Bridges/Construyendo Puentes," West Chester University addresses the continual evolution of our society as Latinos add their diverse heritage to the others that comprise this country and Pennsylvania.

Latinos represent 6.1 percent of Pennsylvania's population. They are concentrated in the southeastern region, representing 9 percent of that population, including 19 percent in Lehigh County, 16 percent in Berks County, and 12 percent in Philadelphia County.

Now in its fifth year, the free conference will be held Thursday, Oct. 24, from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. in Sykes Student Union. It brings together academics, professionals, students, community organizers and the public to discuss the issues Latinos impact - and are impacted by - in four conference tracks:

  • Education and English Language Learners
  • Language, Cultures and History
  • Health and Social Work
  • Sociology, Politics and Economy

The 47 presenters include faculty from West Chester University, Eastern, Temple and St. Joseph's universities as well as administrators from local agencies such as Maternal and Child Health Consortium of Chester County; the Kennett After-School Association; and Chester County Department of Children and Youth. Among the topics they will discuss are comprehensive immigration reform and the immigrant Dreamers; Latino maternal and infant health and the Affordable Care Act; building literacy and the achievement gap among Latinos.

The keynote speaker, Michelle Angela Ortiz, is a Philadelphia visual artist, muralist and community arts educator whose role as a Cultural Envoy through the U.S. Embassy has led to public art projects in Suva, Fiji, and Mexico's Juarez and Chihuahua City. She will speak from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. on "The Power of Art and Activism in Latino Communities Here, There and Beyond: Local and Transnational Impacts."

While this conference is free and open to the public, there are additional fees for lunch and for ACT 48 credits for educators and social workers.

The complete conference schedule is available here. Click for more information and registration.