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Latin American Politics Class Takes Trip to Baja California, Meets With Governor

Holding a meeting with a governor was just another day for seven University of La Verne students.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Juli Minoves-Triquell took students in his Latin American Politics class to meet Governor Francisco Vega de Lamadrid, who is the new governor of Baja, California in early December, 2013.

Minoves-Triquell introduced the University and presented letters from President Dr. Devorah Lieberman and Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Gitty Amini to the governor.

“The governor had just been elected and it was a great moment to start a relationship with him,” Minoves-Triquell said. “He graciously accepted to talk to our students and answer their questions. One of the courses I teach is Latin American Politics and we have focused on the reforms in Mexico. Since Mexico is so close I thought that it would be good to take my students to the neighboring state of Baja California and have them interact with officials of the State.”

Students in the class were able to learn about the politics of Mexico and experience them first-hand, in a meeting with a high-level elected politician and his staff.

“That’s what one calls the La Verne Experience; a unique way of combining theory and practice, the abstract and the concrete,” Minoves-Triquell said. “The students got to experience another country, another culture, a political meeting, and to reflect on issues concerning trans-border cooperation. They came back to California having experienced first-hand the geographic area they have studied all semester long. That is exceptional.”

Governor Vega de Lamadrid fielded questions regarding the economy, border issues, taxation, relations with California, immigration, reforms in Mexico prepared by the students.

Following the question and answer session, the governor presented each student and Minoves-Triquell with two soccer shirts of Baja California. Minoves-Triquell gave him a package of information about La Verne from the President’s office as well as an engraved writing/calling card set he had purchased at the La Verne bookstore. After the Governor left, the meeting continued with his aides for an extra hour of educational exchange with the students.

“I hope they took away from the trip a new vision of the environment of their home state, California,” Minoves-Triquell said. “The border is real, and beyond it lies a new world for many of them of different political systems and practices. I also believe that this trip and the meeting with the governor will spark their curiosity about Latin America and that they will continue to learn about it once their class with me has ended.”

This was the first trip of its kind for La Verne students.

“Our students made me very proud; they had carefully prepared their questions to Governor Francisco Vega de Lamadrid, and gave a very good image of the university,” Minoves-Triquell said. “The meetings were conducted in both English and Spanish and this reflects the diversity of our student body. The relationship we have started with Governor Vega will bear its fruits both for the state of Baja California and for our institution.”