A Uruguayan boost for Spanish studies at UM
By Caning Jaramillo
While Malaysia’s diplomatic connections with Latin American nations have historically been limited, recent developments are reshaping the landscape. Notably, the establishment of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Mexico has elevated Mexico to the status of Malaysia’s leading trading partner in Latin America as of 2022.
This is where the role of Spanish Studies at Universiti Malaya (UM) assumes a crucial position in fostering connections and understanding with these nations. And a recent collaboration between UM and a consortium of Latin American and Spanish Embassies is set to revolutionize this crucial exchange. The collaboration has paved the way for an enriching educational experience that promises to empower UM students with a unique and transformative opportunity to immerse themselves in the richness of Spanish language and culture.
Last semester, the Spanish department at the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics at UM had the distinct privilege of hosting Dr. Ignacio Berasategui, an esteemed lecturer from the prestigious Catholic University of Uruguay and the University of the Republic. This visit marks a significant milestone in UM’s commitment to global education, particularly for students pursuing Spanish bachelor’s degrees.
Dr. Berasategui is currently serving as the Director of the Department of International Business and Integration at the Faculty of Business Sciences School at the Catholic University of Uruguay (UCU). He is also the former Dean of the Faculty of Business Studies at this prestigious Uruguayan institution. His academic journey includes a Ph.D. in International Relations, a master’s degree in Integration and International Trade, and a postgraduate degree in Management and Foreign Trade. Dr. Berasategui’s research focus on international trade, integration processes, and international relations has led to numerous peer-reviewed publications and books related to Latin America and Asia Pacific.
The purpose of his journey to Asia was not limited to academic exchange but rather to facilitate a Mercosur business delegation exploring potential opportunities and agreements of trade and commerce with Malaysia, Thailand, and other Asian countries. Mercosur is the Spanish abbreviation for the Southern Common Market, a South American trade bloc consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, established by the Treaty of Asunción in 1991. Dr. Berasategui’s visit to UM was made possible through the collaboration and support of the Embassy of Uruguay in Malaysia.
According to Caning Jaramillo, the Coordinator of the Spanish Internship programs and lecturer of the Business and Administration module, UM’s Spanish students now have a diverse range of opportunities, all made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics with nine Spanish embassies established in Kuala Lumpur. These embassies, representing Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, México, Perú, Uruguay, and Spain, have joined hands with UM to provide an array of resources for Spanish students in Malaysia. One exemplary instance of this fruitful collaboration is the program with Dr. Berasategui.
Jaramillo also commented that in the upcoming semester Spanish students will have another invited guest, Mr. Carlos Javier Castillo, the current Deputy of Head of Mission from the Embassy of Peru in Malaysia whom will be also participating as an Elite Fellow Lecturer presenting a couple of lectures for our senior Spanish students in the area of conflict resolutions.
Through a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and agreements inked by the University and Faculty, UM students are not only equipped to learn the Spanish language and culture but also to prepare themselves for future international business exchanges.
This innovative partnership between UM and the Latin American and Spanish Embassies has definitely elevated Spanish Studies to new heights, offering UM students exclusive access to resources and opportunities for personal and professional growth. The visit of Dr. Ignacio Berasategui and UM’s dedication to global education reaffirm UM’s commitment to fostering cultural exchange and international cooperation.
The author is the Spanish Industrial Coordinator and Spanish language instructor at the Department of Asian and European Languages, Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University Malaya. He can be reached at [email protected]