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Simmons jets to Guadalajara for Thanksgiving holiday

As students sleep off their turkey hangovers Friday, President Ruth Simmons will be speaking at Mexico's Universidad de Guadalajara at the invitation of famed authors Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, and Brown Professor of Hispanic Studies Julio Ortega.

Simmons' talk, "Exhibiting What is True: A Lesson from Francis Wayland," is the keynote address of the Jalisco, Mexico, university's "La Catedra Latinoamericana Julio Cortazar."

Though Simmons was invited to speak at last year's conference, scheduling issues forced her to defer her trip until this year, said Assistant to the President Marisa Quinn. The annual forum, which was endowed by donations from Garcia Marquez and Fuentes in 1995, is intended to bring speakers to Guadalajara to reflect on many aspects of Cortazar's writings and thoughts on Latin America, said Ortega, who sits on the committee that oversees the Cortazar chair. Julio Cortazar was a 20th-century Argentine writer.

Ortega said Simmons was a popular choice for the speaking engagement. "Some years ago, the committee decided to invite Ruth Simmons to speak because of her leadership in higher education in America," Ortega said.

Indeed, Simmons' speech will focus on the role of education in civil society and "the ways in which our education should impel us to exhibit 'what is true,' " Quinn said.

Ortega described Simmons as an example of the power of education and said this message was particularly relevant abroad. "In the university she is an example of self-accomplishment and fulfillment, and in this way, she belongs to the classical notion that education is a great human achievement," he said. "That is a very powerful story."

"She has a very clear and lucid notion of what education is: A formation of individuals and a better society," Ortega said. "So she has this conviction and empathy with the structural meaning of education in contemporary life that strikes beyond languages and cultures."

Simmons' trip comes during Brown's Year of Focus on Latin America, as well as at a time when the University is working to raise its international profile and strengthen connections with institutions and scholars in other countries.

In an e-mail to The Herald, Quinn wrote that "this trip is very much aligned with our internationalization work. ... President Simmons' trip to Mexico will seek to accomplish many of these things through the speech itself, coverage in the international media, meetings with representatives from the University of Guadalajara and possibly meetings with alumni, parents and friends in the region."

Following the talk, Simmons will attend a dinner held by Fuentes, a professor-at-large at Brown, in her honor.

In addition to speaking at the university, Simmons will talk at the opening of the Guadalajara International Book Fair, a major book fair in Latin America.



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