In the fall of 2002, a group of students at Teachers College (TC), Columbia University, got together in an informal meeting at the cafeteria. There was a common interest: Latin America. We realized that putting together a student organization with focus on Latin America would give us the space to work, study, meet, share, and learn, based on our common interests. Similarly, we understood that this space would be a great opportunity to build bridges within the Latin American Diaspora across nations and time. We decided to try and successfully launched our inauguration event in October 2002. Since then, we have been very active in the three spheres in which we work: the academic, the cultural and the social arenas.
Over the last six years, the work of ALAS has been one of growth, increasing on-campus interest, and increased membership. ALAS has become a resource to learn about and address Latin America issues within the Department of International and Transcultural Studies (our sponsoring department in TC) as well as in other schools of New York City and abroad. As such, ALAS is contacted by individuals interested in the program as well as the region. Presently, the organization counts on the sponsorship of professor Lesley Bartlett at TC, and receives substantial support from other professors in different programs and/or schools of Columbia University such as Teachers College, School of Public and International Affairs, and the School of social work, among others.
The activities of ALAS concentrate on nine realms, which are strongly pursued throughout the academic year: (1) Listserv; (2) Seminars; (3) Peer advising; (4) workshops; (5) Education Across the Americas conference; (6) Cultural events; (7) Social events; (8) Newsletter; and (9) Online discussion forum. ALAS specifically promotes collaboration across schools, departments and other student organizations in Columbia University and other schools in New York City, the U.S, and Latin America.