On April 21 and 22, EWU McNair Scholar Saul Bautista and McNair Recruit Jules Amante attended the Phi Alpha Theta Northwest Regional Conference at Central Washington University with EWU History professor Dr. Bill Youngs.
Saul presented a paper based on his 2022 Summer Research project with mentor Dr. Joseph Lenti, El Indio Desplasado: The Historical Displacement of Indigenous People Through Marginization. Saul valued the opportunity to do a proper history presentation, where he read his entire paper. His secret for this type of presentation is to highlight the strongest sections of the paper by memorizing them, and make eye contact with the audience during those passages. Saul had fun with the Q + A session that followed. He says that if you did well with your presentation, the Q + A is your moment to shine. Saul recalled two compelling questions he was asked. In one, he was asked whether the United Fruit Co. offered any positives for the indigenous population of Honduras. The short answer was simply, no. While they did bring in infrastructure such as electrical lines, it was an awful time for the population, who were starving and paid almost nothing for their labor. Another audience member asked Saul to speak to the difference between the treatment of indigenous populations in Latin America versus colonizing forces in African countries, where the colonizer often appealed to indigenous forms of governance and hierarchy to gain trust and obedience. Saul noted that the colonizers of Honduras were more pragmatic, ruling by force with armed soldiers and disregard for indigenous political structures. Outside of Saul’s experience presenting his work, he had a great time learning from other panels. He was especially interested in a panel on Liberation Theology in El Salvador.
Jules participated in a panel on “The Power of Texts”. This panel included Jules’ paper Iberian Intellect: The Treatment of Texts in Islamic Spain and During the Spanish Inquisition, along with other scholars’ papers Exploring the Representation of Coast Salish Society within Institutions and Literature and Dating of the Kurukshetra War. While these topics span a wide range of time periods, and extend across the world from the Pacific Northwest to Spain to India, they are connected by their focus on material texts. A feature of the Phi Alpha Theta conference is that you can receive an evaluation by professors in your field after your panel or presentation, which is invaluable for early scholars. Jules appreciated learning how to be on a panel for the first time, and receiving feedback. She enjoyed meeting others in her field, finding out what others are researching, and being around scholarly peers. Jules would tell students who are considering attending or presenting at a conference that it is not as scary as it might seem. In a field-specific conference, everyone is interested in what you are doing. You will be talking to people who care, and who are into details. It’s a great opportunity to grow your presentation skills in a safe and comfortable environment.
EWU is considering hosting the Phi Alpha Theta Northwest Regional Conference next year, and we hope they will!