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Darren Lopez ’02 (Highland Mills, N.Y.) will speak about his experiences of studying abroad last year in Cuba noon tomorrow in Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall.

Free and open to the public, the talk is part of a brown bag series sponsored by the Emile Durkheim Society. Tomorrow’s event is also sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Studies. Lunch may be brought or purchased for $3.

Lopez, a double major in Spanish and anthropology and sociology, spent last semester studying literature, sociology, and Spanish at the Liberal Arts College of the University of Havana. He is believed to be the first Lafayette student to study abroad in Cuba.

“I decided on Cuba because I wanted to study in a Spanish-speaking country, but not go to Spain,” says Lopez. “I learned about this opportunity through the Center for Cross-Cultural Study, filled out an application, and got the program approved by Lafayette.”

Lopez believes his experience in Cuba to be invaluable. “The classes that I took, the things that I saw, and the people that I met were so different than the U.S. What really surprised me is that the majority of the people in Cuba are faithful to the revolution and despite their tough living conditions, they have no desire to leave.”

Another aspect of his trip that stands out is the first time he saw Cuban President Fidel Castro speak. Shortly after Sept. 11, Castro delivered a speech on Cuba’s position on the war on terrorism.

“Being in Cuba, I got to see the whole event from a very different perspective than everyone here,” notes Lopez. Castro accused the U.S. of hypocrisy for declaring a war on terrorism while committing acts of terrorism against small countries such as Cuba, Grenada, and Guatemala, he says.

Lopez will share his views on this issue as well as the rest of his experience at the brown bag.

Lopez is a cofounder of the Hispanic Society and served as its president last year, played three years of football, and has volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club through the Landis Community Outreach Center. He has been an active member of both the Association of Black Collegians and the Brothers of Lafayette throughout his time at Lafayette.

The Emile Durkheim Society is an organization that seeks to show anthropology and society majors how they can use their education outside the classroom. President Heather Badamo ’03 (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.) is working on increasing funding and membership.

“We presently have 20 to 30 members,” she says. “Although the club has lapsed in the past couple years, I’m happy with last semester and optimistic about the events we have planned for this semester.”

On Nov. 7, the Emile Durkheim Society sponsored a brown bag featuring Meredith Morse ’85, a double major in art and anthropology and sociology who spoke about her experiences since leaving Lafayette. Morse spent 15 years living in Sydney, Australia, where she undertook a year-long postgraduate study in contemporary aboriginal art, completed her master’s in art history and theory at the University of Sydney, and worked in art and finance. She served as a visiting artist and art historian in residence at Lafayette from Sept. 19 through Oct. 12.

This semester, along with Lopez’s talk, Badamo plans to have a professional storyteller visit campus. This idea came as a suggestion from Susan Niles, the society’s adviser and professor of anthropology and sociology.

“Professor Niles is extremely helpful and great at coming up with events that really hold interest to the student body,” says Badamo. “It’s great working with her.”

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