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North American Studies majors shine at academic conference in Buffalo
Five North American Studies majors from Laurier participated in “Crossing Borders 2014: A Multi-Disciplinary Student Conference on the United States, Canada and Border Issue,” hosted by the University of Buffalo, March 13-14.
Students Nathan Bartlam, Heidi Madden, Juan Castillo Romero, Lisa-Anne Pilkey and Elliot White presented original research at the 19th annual conference. Their research covered a range of topics, including the representation of Mexico in North American country music; the figure of the coyote in United States-Mexico border film; Canadian nation branding in Molson beer commercials; the construction of national identity through Tim Horton’s and Coca-Cola’s advertising campaigns; and the role of technology/reality television in the portrayal of Alaska as the last frontier.
“Presenting a paper at Crossing Borders has stimulated my interest in North American Studies, taking it in a whole new direction and making me more confident in presenting myself to a formal academic audience,” said Castillo Romero, who was initially nervous about presenting but, in the end, was pleased with his participation.
The students’ research was developed in the capstone course in Laurier’s North American Studies Program, “NO401: Borders and Boundaries in North America,” taught by Associate Professor Katherine Ann Roberts. This is the third time that North American Studies students have participated in this event.
“It was my first time presenting a paper at a conference and I think it is something a student should think about doing, especially during their undergraduate degree,” said Bartlam. “There were many interesting and thought-provoking topics and it was well organized and structured. It was enjoyable to speak with students from different universities and hear their opinions on various border topics.”
The conference was co-hosted by Brock University and sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada in New York and the Consulate General of the United States in Toronto. Heidi Kutz, the deputy consul general of Canada in New York, welcomed conference attendees at the opening reception. The Laurier students joined participants from several American and Canadian universities, the majority of who study at the graduate level.
“Meeting students at all levels of study and a variety of faculty members was definitely the highlight,” said Madden. “It was nice to be able to converse with Americans who study Canada and are aware of trans-border issues. Many of the participants were born in Canada and are now working in the United States, or vice versa, and they brought a unique perspective to the discussions.”