The Latin American Community at Harvard Business School

October 24, 2017

Bárbara González Briseño, MBA Candidate for 2018, shares her experiences within the Latin American community at the Harvard Business School. hbslatam

Latin American is a state of being, not a regional denomination. 

Or at least that is what I learned at Harvard Business School. Upon arriving at HBS, members of the Latin American community took conscious steps to get acquainted with each other before officially beginning the HBS experience. We all were sure that it would be useful to have friends from a region of the world we identified with, but little did we know of the real impact that these relationships would have on our time at HBS. 

It turns out that we did not create helpful relations that could ease our existence upon our arrival. We did not create connections with people that we might encounter later in our professional lives. We did not assemble a group of people that could become a lifeline when wanting to express ourselves in our mother tongue (in reality there is no such thing as a “common” mother tongue). We have created much more…we have created a family. We provide an environment of support to each other, where we invite each other to be our most transparent and honest selves as we evolve and grow throughout this MBA journey.

Some say that Latin Americans are like magnets: we attract each other. As we were randomly placed in a group of 1,800 students, we found our place together. Strangely, no section, no discussion group, no border, or lifelong rivalry were obstacles to the creation of this big family. As in any traditional one, we all come with a load of personal baggage, a made-up mind set, and siblings of our own. But that is the beauty of our tacit arrangement: everyone is welcome. 

Quickly, the community started taking shape of its own, and to our surprise it was made up not only by people who were born from the Patagonia to Tijuana. Actually, it was also composed of the Serbian-Canadian who likes reggaetón, of the Indian student who interned in Peru, and by so many others who realized that they identified with the Latin American experience and wanted to feel part of something. 

We are all different and that is what makes our community so strong. There are 20 countries that officially belong to the “Latin American region”. Almost 640 million people live in these 20 countries over 7.5 million squared miles - 13% of the world’s surface area.  Although Spanish and Portuguese are the predominant languages, there are over 800 different languages that are spoken across the region, and heritages from all around the world range from Africa to Europe. We do not share a common culture with which we can clearly identify by, we do not share customs or ideologies. We share our spirit, which strengthens our union to our very core. 

The MBA experience would never have been the same without this community. Thank you, Harvard. Thank you, LatAm. If I had not been here, I would have never learned the power that we have when we come together and now, this power will stay with me forever. We are one, we are together. #vivaLatAm