How I arrived at this course?
Latin America is one of the regions of the world, about which I hardly knew anything except Football, Amazon forest or Coffee production. This region did not find much place neither in history books nor in mainstream media. But this has changed during my master’s education at Technical University of Denmark. During my studies, I have met many students from Latin America and got to know about many different aspects of this region. I was very much curious to know more about this region since then. In the year 2012, when I have started studies of culture as part of my ‘Envisioning 21st century global manager’ program, Latin America topped in the list of regions to know more about. Latin American economies were growing and it was looked as a favorable investment place, so I was both professionally and personally wanted to uncover some of the secrets of this region.
It did not take much time, when in May 2013, I have discovered the course ‘Latin American Culture’ and immediately registered for it. I have chosen to start with culture, you will ask? I think it is pretty simple. There is nothing as diverse as culture of a country or a region. It contains many diversified aspects such as people’s beliefs, values, arts, social structure, history and food to name few of them. So, with this course my expedition to Latin America has started and it is still going.
Experiences with course ‘Latin American Culture’
Video lectures: Although majority of lectures gave a very short overview of different cultural aspects, they were very good for first time learners. It was interesting to know 16th century conquests and how mass migration from other continents have influenced the formation of current cultural diversity of this continent. Through the lectures, I have also witnessed the power struggles among different sections resulting in civil wars, grappling many nations in the last century. All these aspects looked negative, but lectures covering economic aspects brought a positive breeze in the course. It talked about strong performance of many nations, opening of borders as well as signing of free trade agreements. We have also witnessed some of the upcoming problems such as rapid urbanization, environment degradation etc.
Two weeks were devoted to the Latin American art, music and culture. It was completely enlightening to know about the contribution of Latin American arts to the world in many different ways. At the end of the course, we were also presented some of the challenges faced by nations of this continent. It includes providing basic healthcare facilities, education to everyone and employment to the young population.
Discussion forums: Most amazing part of this course. I learn lot more about Latin America from discussion forums, with many participants coming from Latin America. Most of the class participants were much more knowledgeable than me and I got to know a lot about it from the class participants. Everything discussed in the forum was very new for me, so I have spent time in reading every single thread of the discussion forums. It was so interesting to know more about countries such as Cuba, Colombia etc. Through forums, I also got to know what are the top movies to watch, well known artists, as well as some of the common problems of Latin America. I got to know about the food, festivals and even the best time to visit Latin America from the discussion forums. I have read entire discussion forums and connected with many other classmates at the end. We are still active on the Facebook discussion group and regularly discuss some of the events happening in this region.
Assessments: Through the peer assessment, I analyzed the free trade agreements and their impact on Latin American economy. This was a good exercise to continue further study on this region in future. On the slightly sad note, though I enjoyed every part of this course but could not finish with the passing marks.
Nevertheless, this course gave me first hand accounts of this fascinating region along with a combination of history, religious aspects, institutional set-up, economic performance, demographic challenges etc. Using the solid foundation created through this course, I have gained more knowledge over time by joining groups on Latin America at Facebook and LinkedIn. I have also tried to studied Spanish to understand more about this region and communicating effectively with the people of this region. Countries like Honduras, Uruguay, El Salvador are no longer a stranger place for me now and with many friends in this region, I know a lot more than before. Much of the credit for all this new change goes to this course and the wonderful class participants.
Today, I know more about Latin america than before and lot of credit can be given to ‘Latin American Culture’ course.
>> Course page of ‘Latin American Culture’
>> Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico
>> Latin American Culture (Tecnológico de Monterrey – Coursera) – Facebook Group
>> Latin American Culture Study Group (Spanish Speakers Coursera) – Facebook Group