Watson Chronicle


Support for Educators in the Field

UNCW Hosts Event to Raise Awareness of Student Abductions in Mexico

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Faculty, students and community members gathered at UNCW's Lumina Theater on April 20 for a panel discussion of issues surrounding the September 26, 2014 abduction of 43 pre-service teachers in Mexico, an event that has garnered global attention. The students, enrolled in the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers' College of Ayotzinapa in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico were abducted during a peaceful protest and are now presumed dead.

The UNCW event, titled "¡Vivos los queremos! Student Solidarity with Ayotzinapa," was designed to raise awareness, show support for families of the students and demonstrate a need for global connectedness on human rights issues.

Mexico1Panelists included journalist Luis Hernández Navarro, a journalist with a 30-year history of covering issues related to education and labor and the director of the editorial page of the Mexican daily La Jornada; Duke University's Center for Child and Family Policy senior research aide Janina Cuevas Zúñiga, who has drafted policy for the Mexican presidency and the Mexican ministry of education; Dr. Alice Brooke Wilson, an anthropologist who has been teaching in Mexico for the past four years; and anthropologist, human rights activist and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award recipient Abel Barrera Hernández. Natalie Picazo, interim director of Centro Hispano, moderated the international panel.

The abduction and presumed massacre of students shook the nation, and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in protest, panelists said. Yet, students who survived the tragedy remain committed to becoming teachers, are united with families of the victims and retain a goal of securing resources needed to deliver a quality education to poor youth in Mexico's rural communities, they said.

"Their job is now complex and dangerous, but these are youth," Barrera said. "They are committed to finding ways to educate young students and we are committed to helping them by raising global awareness."

Watson College Dean Kenneth Teitelbaum and UNCW's Chief Diversity Officer Kent Guion also spoke at the event.

Marta Sánchez, assistant professor in the Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations and Secondary Education at the Watson College, coordinated the event in partnership with Picazo. The event was sponsored by the Watson College of Education, Centro Hispano, the Department of Sociology and Criminology, the College of Health and Human Services, and the Office of International Programs.