Secretary of State John Kerry attended an event hosted by the U.S. Embassy that included University of Texas at Austin faculty members and students earlier today at Casa Herrera, an extension of UT Austin's Mesoamerica Center.
Kerry was accompanied by members of the U.S. Embassy and representatives from UT Austin including Jack Risley, chairman of the Department of Art and Art History; David Stuart, director of the Mesoamerica Center and a professor of art history; and students studying abroad at Casa Herrera from the university's College of Education. His visit was attended by international media.
"Secretary Kerry's visit was very exciting," said Stuart. "It really highlights UT's role on the international stage, and the Casa Herrera's efforts to promote academic exchange and dialog here in Central America."
Kerry left the United States on Tuesday for Guatemala on his first trip to Latin America since taking office. He is there to attend the Organization of American States' annual general assembly. The two-day meeting is expected to address topics including counternarcotics, counterterrorism strategy and human rights.
The event at Casa Herrera was part of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative by the U.S. State Department. The purpose of the initiative is to increase international study in Latin America and the Caribbean, and foster regionwide prosperity through greater international exchange of students.
Casa Herrera is a research, conference and teaching facility operated by the Department of Art and Art History at UT Austin in collaboration with Fundación Pantaleón. International scholars and students who teach and learn about the varied and inter-related disciplines that contribute to the study of Pre-Columbian art, archaeology, history and culture attend Casa Herrera.
The U.S. Embassy brought in approximately 100 children from Guatemala City and surrounding Antigua areas that were part of the English Access Microscholarship Program to study English. The children were part of a small ceremony and were visited by Kerry as they participated in hands-on activities in each of the Casa Herrera classrooms.
This event highlights UT Austin's international reach. It occurred the same week President Bill Powers and a delegation of UT Austin faculty members and administrators are meeting with Brazilian educators and government officials in Brasilia to forge new higher education exchanges in science and technology.