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Students learn about Latin American life from former ambassador to Peru

Alvin Adams tells AP Spanish class each country is unique


by: VERN UYETAKE - Alvin Adams, a former U.S. ambassador to Peru, recently spent time with Lakeridge AP Spanish students, relating information about culture in Central and South American countries. From left below, AP Spanish students Kavya Sreedhar, Kalin Rooney, Stacey Strovink and Ryan Barman listen intently to Alvin Adams.Students in Julie Pacheco-Toye’s AP Spanish class at Lakeridge High School had an opportunity to put their Spanish-speaking and listening skills to the test when Alvin Adams visited their classroom recently.

Adams recently presented at the Teach Latin America Youth Forum at Portland State University and offered to speak to Pacheco-Toye’s students about his experiences as a U.S. diplomat, in particular as an ambassador to Peru between 1983 and 1996.

Adams began his diplomatic career during the Vietnam War in Saigon. This assignment was followed by various stations in Asia and Washington, D.C. He served as ambassador in Djibouti, Haiti and Peru between 1983 and 1996 and was chair of the United Nations Association of the United States of America.

“I met Mr. Adams last spring at an educators’ conference on Latin America organized by the World Affairs Council, where he was the keynote speaker,” said Pacheco-Toye. “I was inspired by the message of his speech and contacted him after the conference. We have kept in touch and he offered to come speak to my AP class.”

Adams spoke to the class in Spanish and the students were able to carry on a conversation with him.

“There were really two main important elements to his talk,” said Pacheco-Toye. “First, that we need to recognize that each of the countries in Latin America is unique and we should understand and value their unique histories and cultures, and second, that there is a lot in common between the U.S. and the countries of Latin America, not the least being our histories as independent countries grown out of European colonies.”

Adams also spoke about his experiences dealing with the government in Peru, the fight against terrorism there and international diplomacy in the midst of a conflict over territory. He spoke about the indigenous populations of Latin America and the importance of Peru.

“Two of his important points were that a good ambassador listens to all the citizens of the country he is serving in, recognizing that their point of view is as important as the elite of the country,” said Pacheco-Toye. “And that the best part of having been an ambassador is the satisfaction of a job well done.”

Adams will be the guest speaker in April for Lakeridge’s World Languages Honor Society induction ceremony.

by: VERN UYETAKE - From left, AP Spanish students Kavya Sreedhar, Kalin Rooney, Stacey Strovink and Ryan Barman listen intently to Alvin Adams.




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