Members’ Stories


Bill Gasperini: CUSLAR helped propel me into a global career in journalism

For me CUSLAR was almost more important than Rural Sociology at Cornell.  I chose that major after doing volunteer social work in Brazil on an exchange program in 1975-77 that was similar to the Peace Corps.  I was so overwhelmed by the extent of poverty and underdevelopment, to say nothing of living in a country under a military dictatorship; all of it led me to ask many questions.

Those Monday afternoon meetings in Anabel Taylor Hall to discuss Latin America were the highlight of each week.  CUSLAR really became the center of my social life as we mounted film showings, had a table at noontime with petitions to sign, hosted speakers and also shared many a spirited Saturday night party with Andean musicians at the Red Barn!

Read more


Mary Jo Dudley: ‘People to People’ delegation coordinator reflects on 1982 Nicaragua exchange

Pueblo a Pueblo, or People to People, was a 1982 trip that hoped to connect everyday Americans with everyday Nicaraguans to dispel myths about both countries, especially in response to the 1979 Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua. Mary Jo Dudley was CUSLAR Coordinator from 1981-1987 and the Co-coordinator of the Pueblo a Pueblo project. Here she reflects on connecting with the Sandinista government, working in the cotton harvest, and breaking down stereotypes. “At its very core,” said Dudley, “Pueblo a Pueblo emphasized a reexamination of U.S.-Latin American relations and the active participation of community members in supporting justice and respect for human rights and sovereignty in Latin America.” Read more

ESCR-net Group Photo

Alicia Swords: Connecting Grassroots Leaders

Alicia has been a part of CUSLAR since 1999 and a member of the advisory board since 2004.  As a Sociology professor at Ithaca College with a focus on social change and social movements in the Americas, Alicia is able to connect many students to CUSLAR.  She says, “One of the things that’s really exciting about CUSLAR in the present is that student internships have come to be a very strong part of the organization! It’s clear to me that you all learn and contribute so much, develop your skills and develop your own sense of being connected to other people in the world.” Read more

After 28 years in Nicaragua, Lillian Hall, right, has moved to Colombia ‘at the most auspicious of times.’ She is pictured here with her partner, Ricardo Esquivia, founder of Sembrandopaz, or “Sowing Seeds of Peace.” Hall was active at CUSLAR from 1980 to 1983.

Lillian Hall: CUSLAR to Nicaragua to Colombia

Lillian first got involved with CUSLAR in 1978 when she came to Cornell University to study international agriculture.  After living in Nicaragua for nearly 30 years, Lillian says, “It boils down to stories — telling people’s stories, and putting a human face on all of these issues, whether it’s economic justice or mining or workers’ rights. That’s one of the great things that CUSLAR can give us: being that conduit among people of different countries and helping those stories come north to where a lot of these problems originate.” Read more

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s