It’s my immense good fortune to be in San Juan right now, at the conclusion of three days of meetings between a wide variety of Latin American institutions, one university from Spain/Catalonia, and one mostly confused visiting Canadian. I’m realizing that I never did share my impressions of an event I attended in Barcelona a couple weeks back, and I will have to go back and do that, because that was also very rich in a lot of ways. But I thought I would quickly capture a few thoughts prompted here in Puerto Rico.
* The world is not flat. That notion is yet another thing that Tom Friedman is horribly, dangerously wrong about. And we shouldn’t want it to be flat. Sure, clearly superior technology can be adopted cross-culturally (think how quickly native Americans grasped the potential of guns and horses, or the global pervasiveness of books, telephones, automobiles, etc…), and it may help cultures to communicate and learn with one another. And there may well be an implicit logic inherent with the adoption of a new technology. But persistent and essential characteristics of distinct cultures exist, even within an increasingly integrated whole, and thank whatever deity or humanist icon you care to thank for that.
* When you only understand half of what’s going on, you’d be surprised how much you learn. The gaps in comprehension leave more space for thinking. I realize now that cognitive space is one of the things I miss most from my time in Mexico.
* I can’t say enough for the spirit and the energy of the people here. I can’t think of any other conference I’ve attended where the dinners were such explosions of singing, dancing and laughter, ones in which everyone is participating — hard to imagine fifty Canadians letting loose like this. All I can say about the people here is “wow”. Huge kudos to everyone, especially the organizers from the Open University of Catalonia and Interamericana University here in Puerto Rico.
I’ll try to share more later.
I came here as an invited guest speaker, but according to the documents composed during the meetings and all of the rhetoric I, and both of the institutions I was representing (COSL and UBC) are now part of the “network”. It’s quite possible the inclusion is just characteristic courtesy, but I can only hope this is the beginning of a beautiful partnership.