As President of ACSA, I was invited to attend a semi-annual meeting of our sibling organization in Mexico called ASINEA, which stands for Asociación de Instituciones de Enseñanza de la Arquitectura (asinea.org.mx). ASINEA brings together close to 100 accredited schools of architecture in Mexico, whose faculty and administrators meet twice a year in different places around the country. The student association, ENEA (Encuentro Nacional de Estudiantes de Arquitectura), meets at the same time and in the same locations.
León, a city of 1.5 million people in Guanajuato state, some 240 miles northwest from Mexico City, was the site of the 101st meeting of ASINEA. The meeting’s host school was one of our four Affiliate members in Mexico, Universidad de La Salle Bajio (http://bajio.delasalle.edu.mx).
The meeting was used to mark the 55th anniversary of ASINEA, including a large birthday cake (and the obligatory cake cutting ceremony). ASINEA was founded on April 30, 1964, in the picturesque old mining city of Guanajuato, 35 miles from León, so marking the birthday so close to the birthplace of the association seemed entirely appropriate. There were 12 schools at the founding of the association.
The ASINEA/ENEA gatherings are big: I was told that close to 1,000 people have converged on León from all over Mexico. There were actually three events running in parallel – think of our Annual Meeting being combined with the Administrators Conference and then add the AIAS Forum into the mix and you get the idea. Overall, it was a very well run event.
I was given a chance to address the meeting of some 60 administrators, deans and directors from the schools across Mexico. I started in Spanish, telling the group that I wasn’t a typical "gringo", as they could tell from my name. I then spoke in English about ACSA and our conferences and publications, with most of the attention focused on the next year’s Annual Meeting in San Diego. At the end of the meeting, Marcos Mazari Hiriart, President of ASINEA and Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at UNAM in Mexico City, and I signed a Memorandum of Understanding, expressing our shared commitment to working together to facilitate contacts and cooperation between our member schools.
I used the meeting as an opportunity to invite our Mexican colleagues to join us in San Diego next year. We discussed the various ways in which they could do so that would make their participation meaningful. One of the ideas was to have the submission of abstracts and papers in Spanish. (We are implementing a multilingual interface to our submission system as part of our agreement to partner with UIA for the Congress in Rio de Janeiro next year.)
I also met Zurizaid Morales Padilla, director of the architecture program at Universidad Iberoamericana in Tijuana. That school is physically the closest in Mexico to the United States. It is located little over half a mile from the US border, in the Playa district, and a relatively short distance from the infamous section of the border wall that runs into the Pacific Ocean.
We plan to work with our colleagues in Mexico to explore the ways in which could begin to develop new and deepen existing connections between our schools across the border. The meeting in León was the first step in that direction.