Tuesday, 30 April 2013 12:37

A conversation with Keira Philipp-Schnurer

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Keira Philipp-Schnurer is from Ohio. She is responsible for Community Outreach for ¡Cine Magnífico!, and she oversees the community education (outreach) programs for the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico. She kindly accepted to be interviewed for you guys. Enjoy it!

Keira, can you present yourself?

Hello, all! It’s a pleasure to be here and a thrill to be involved with ¡Cine Magnífico!

What's the UNM Latin American& Iberian Institute? 

It’s a mouthful, is what it is. We call it the LAII for short.  We’re a National Resource Center for Latin America, a designation that the U.S. Department of Education bestows upon a select number of post-secondary institutions to recognize language and area studies for a given part of the world. There are NRCs for Asia, Africa, Latin America, etc. We’re one of 20-some NRCs for Latin America. And, what else…I guess, in a nutshell, I’d say that we’re an interdisciplinary resource at UNM.  We work with faculty and students across campus, and with community partners off campus.

Maybe describe one or more of your projects for us through these years.

We have so many projects! We’re always doing something. In fact, last year was one of our busiest yet. It’s possible we broke our own records, because we partnered with over 50 campus and community organizations to sponsor a ton of programs. I think we had over 100 events on campus and then around 70 events for K-12 teachers! But if I had to pick, I’d say that the two conferences we held this past year were pretty spectacular. In the fall, we coordinated a symposium around human trafficking and the U.S.-Mexico border, and in the spring we held a conference around colonial studies – specifically, “Authority and Identity in Colonial Ibero-America.” Both of those were top-notch because we had the chance to match our UNM faculty with experts in the field from all across the country.

You may have many students involved your activities, but how do you approach the general public? Are your events mostly open to the public? Again, anything cool happening soon?

You’re right. Mostly we work with students, and a good amount with faculty. But it’s also a treat for me to outreach to the wider community beyond UNM. In fact, that’s my role. I supervise the LAII’s community education programs, otherwise known as our outreach efforts. Part of the purpose behind being an NRC is to try to share resources and expand awareness across audiences.  We’ll work with everyone interested in Latin America! It’s the best part of my job.  And anyone can come!  All of our events are free and open to the public, though usually it’s a bear to find parking on campus. 

And the coolest thing happening soon? Easy. ¡Cine Magnífico! It’s been a real pleasure to work with Milly. And you! And our festival programmer, Roberto! To see this thing come to life. 

What's LAII’s mission? 

Believe it or not, I have our mission memorized. Thankfully it’s not long. We try to, and I quote, create a stimulating environment for the production and dissemination of knowledge of Latin America and Iberia at UNM. 

What's your job there?

I think I skipped ahead with my earlier ad lib, but, in short, I oversee our outreach programs. I wear a few hats around the office, but primarily I coordinate our events and other outreach programs.

What's the Institute’s relationship with the Instituto Cervantes and Cine Magnifico?

A great partnership is what it is. We share the common goal of wanting to promote and encourage a wider understanding about Latin America and Iberia – in terms of language, history, culture, you name it. That’s all in terms of our wider partnership. In terms of ¡Cine Magnífico, well, our partnership is more specific to education. The LAII offers educational outreach programming to help bring Ibero-American cinema to the community year-round, particularly to K-12 audiences.  Then, while the LAII tackles that part, Instituto Cervantes does the heavy lifting necessary for bringing the festival to life.

Why is that relationship important to Albuquerque's community?

Good question. I suppose you could answer that any number of ways, but one answer is that our partnership has allowed us to leverage resources and produce events that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. ¡Cine Magnífico! is a perfect example.  It’s come about in large part due to our partnership and our mutual interest in seeing something emerge that can build and become bigger over time.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

First, thanks. This has been fun. Second, for anyone who’s interested in learning more about the LAII and our many projects, I’d say check out the LAII’s website at laii.unm.edu. Third, hit me up at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!  If anyone out there has ideas or suggestions for community outreach events focused on Latin America or Spain, let’s talk!

Read 10761 times Last modified on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 12:50

Spanish journalist, musician and film lover. He is in charge of marketing issues and coffee making at ¡Cine Magnífico! Albuquerque Film Festival.

More in this category: « Meet ¡Cine Magnífico! Team

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