Students should be culturally aware


Elizabeth Hanson

President Juan Manuel Santos spoke at the Lied Center in Lawerence on Oct. 31. He received the Nobel Peace prize in 2016 for helping end the war in Colombia.

Story by Elizabeth Hanson, Assistant Photo Editor

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos gave a speech on Oct. 31 at the University of Kansas in the Lied Center.

Santos is a proud graduate of KU and last visited the University in 2012. He talked about his experiences throughout his life from college to his political career and the impression it left on him.

I was prompted to go to this speaker because I am interested in Latin American culture and because of my friend Maria Echeverry, an international student from Bogota, Colombia, was also interested in going to the event.

Santos discussed his active time in the Delta Upsilon fraternity at the University where he learned to play poker and listen to popular American music. He even mentioned that he and all his brothers attended the University in Lawrence and how much he appreciated being able to immerse himself in a new and different culture.

I think it is very important for college students to be culturally aware today. There are many ways to do this on Baker University’s campus, for example by going on Interterms, studying abroad, taking foreign languages or befriending peers who hail from all around the world.

So, when the opportunity arises to see a president of another country, take it and learn about how their country works. It can’t hurt you so why not take a break one afternoon and drive to Lawrence to see a political figure speak.

Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend an event in Kansas City at the Kauffman Center where Malala Yousafzai and her father spoke about her life experiences. In 2013, Yousafzai published a book articulating her beliefs on the importance of education not just in Pakistan, her native country, but across the world.

Yousafzai became the youngest receiver of the Nobel Peace prize in 2012 at the young age of 19. Her advocacy brought her recognition that impacted the perspective of many people across the world.

I became more informed after learning about her testimony and inspirational story. I craved more from influential figures to learn from.

Like Yousafzai, Santos also won the Nobel Peace prize in 2016 but for some different reasons. His influence on the world, regarding peace, was his battle to end the war in Colombia.

While listening to Santos speak, I gained a new appreciation for my Colombian friend who accompanied me on this inspirational outing to Lawrence.

It is important that college students attend cultural events in the area or expose themselves to other cultures to obtain a greater understanding of how other countries and their cultures work. I took the opportunity to expose myself to these other cultures and now I feel I can relate to my peers in a new way.