Rediscover Rosarito public diplomacy project brings Mexican artists to Boston this weekend

By Stephany Christie

Rosarito Beach is a beautiful tourist destination located about ten miles south of the US border that, for a while, attracted an immense amount of American tourists because of its cheap vacation prices and ideal location.

In the wake of the outpour of negative media concerning President Calderon’s war on drugs in 2006, however, these numbers began to drop drastically. Americans began to cease their vacations to Mexico out of sheer terror that the cartel would cause them harm.

Dr Gregory Payne, the Associate Professor and Interim Chair for the Communication Studies department at Emerson and long time Baja vacationer, began taking a group of students to Rosarito in 2006, and found that the negative portrayals of Mexico in the media were not applicable to this resort city. This led him to create the Rediscover Rosarito public diplomacy project, along with Hugo Torres, the former Mayor of Rosarito, and Ron Raposa, a public relations expert. The project has been ongoing for the past eight years.

Their research has uncovered the truth about Rosarito beach: that it still remains as a picturesque tourist destination, unscathed by the Mexican drug cartel. The way that it is portrayed in the media is a result of “lazy journalism.” A group of Emerson students and teachers discovered this by exploring factcheck.org and finding that many stories on the Mexican drug cartel in the media had been recycled from previous years. This task force also interviewed locals and American tourists that testified their overwhelmingly positive experiences in Rosarito.

This weekend (October 30-November 1) the Communication Studies Department will be hosting several events that involve the Rediscover Rosarito public diplomacy project. On Thursday, October 30, the LA-Rosarito Public Diplomacy Workshop Retrospective will be hosted in Walker 229 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. This reception and reflection on the project will include graduate and undergraduate students from Emerson, Elmira, and Lake Erie Colleges. To discuss this five week project, which will be offered again in the summer of 2015.

On the morning of October 31, Principal Artist for the Rediscover Rosarito project, David Silvah, and other artists will meet with classes at Emerson and will showcase their artwork at the Iwasaki Library. A special collaborative altar creation, an important part of the Dia De Los Muertos commemoration, is scheduled from 11:30 – 2:00 p.m. in the CoLab of the Iwasaki Library in honor of freshman Emerson student, Jocelyn Amelia Straus, who passed away last week. Friends of Jocelyn will work with the visiting artists, as well as Mexican students, using pictures, favorite objects, and other symbolic items to honor her life.

During the evening of Friday, October 31, these artists will join Boston-based artist, Skye Schulte, for a collaborative painting art show and reception. The public is invited to visit and participate from 5-8 p.m. at the SoWa Studio #216 located at 450 Harrison Avenue in Boston’s South End.

Emerson students and participants in the Bird St Civic Engagement Project and the general public will gather from 1-5 p.m. at at SoWa Studio #216 to commemorate and celebrate the life of actor and comedian, Robin Williams, who passed away this August in California.

These Dia de Los Muertos events commemorate the fourth “Baja to Boston” visit of Mexican artists to Emerson and Boston from the Rosarito Beach public diplomacy project.

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