Conversation and a Film with the Association of Latin American Students

Five years ago, it would have been a scarce sight to find Latin American art on display in popular New York museums. Now due to recent economic proliferation in the region, it seems Latino art is springing up around the city.

“This is an evolving thing,” says Pilar Riofrio, president of Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) “Different things are happening in the [economic and cultural] contexts that makes this art become important,” she said.

Ms. Riofrio is a Peruvian student in the Arts Administration program who is spearheading a movement to revive the ALAS presence at Teachers College. For the past two years, ALAS has focused on arts and culture to bring the Latin American community surrounding Teachers College together, and they’re kicking off this year with a series of film screenings and discussions.

Thursday, December 4th, ALAS asks fellow students to join them in a film screening and discussion series called, “En Conversaciones,” or, in conversation, at 7p.m. in Horace Mann 144.

ALAS will be screening two short films written and narrated by Dr. Roy Germano.

ALAS will be screening two short films written and narrated by Dr. Roy Germano.

This series, “Uncovering Experiences on Immigration in the United States: A Conversation with Roy Germano,” will screen two films, “The High Cost of Deporting Parents” and “They Steal Our Jobs?” followed by a question and answer session with the director.

Both are documentary short films Dr. Roy Germano wrote and narrated for Vice News. “They Steal Our Jobs?” begins with Dr. Germano in a dairy farm in upstate New York, where he works alongside undocumented immigrants completing the grueling task of milking cows and shoveling manure. Later in the film, audiences begin to understand the daily distress immigrants experience, putting faces to the statistics we so often see in the media.

“The High Cost of Deporting Parents” follows a father from Guatemala undergoing the harrowing process of deportation while his wife and children struggle to make ends meet in Utah. The films are heartbreaking stories grounded in realities that occur everyday in the U.S.

Dr. Germano holds an M.A. in International Relations and a Ph.D. in Government. Soon after traveling to Mexico several times for his Ph.D. research, he purchased a camera to film his interviews. He describes his first film as a “really wonderful accident.” Dr. Germano quickly began to see the value in using film as a means of disseminating his research.

“It changed my career trajectory and how I think about how people can produce knowledge to reveal work.” Dr. Germano’s documentary films have been featured in numerous media outlets and universities around the country.

“I collected so much field work, and my quantitative data was only able to reveal a slice of what I had learned,” he said. “I think it’s inevitable that more scholars across fields are — and will — use this technology to present information in different ways.”

Ms. Riofrio and vice president of ALAS, Lina Alfonso, agreed that the topic of immigration is important, and were particularly attracted to the idea of conveying this message through film. “We want to encourage collaboration. Although we want to include other programs and modes, we don’t want to put limits on how we communicate our message,” Ms. Alfonso said.

Roy Germano's Film, "The High Cost of Deporting Parents" will be screened December 4 in Horace Mann.

Roy Germano’s Film, “The High Cost of Deporting Parents” will be screened December 4 in Horace Mann.


Ms. Alfonso, a Colombian student also completing her Masters in the Arts Administration program, joined ALAS with Ms. Riofrio where they both assumed leadership roles after their predecessors graduated, leaving the student group somewhat disbanded.

“We want to start being cohesive again,” Ms. Alfonso said of this year’s revitalization efforts.

In November, ALAS hosted the first event of the series where they invited Dr. Gabriel Cámera to discuss school reform in Mexico. They plan to continue hosting Serie en Conversaciones to build up to their annual spring conference in May which will feature a panel discussion.

If their recent strides have proved any indication of progress, it is that ALAS members have the motivation and the vision to blossom into an enduring presence on campus.