Wabash to Host Town Hall Meeting on NAFTA

by Jim Amidon

May 3, 2004

Political science professor Andy Schlewitz and his students will present the findings of their semester-long study on the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement at a Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, May 4 in Baxter Hall’s Lovell Lecture Room.

Since joining our community several years ago, Schlewitz has carefully studied – along with his students – the migration patterns of many of our local immigrant families. It’s been exciting research to monitor, and he clearly wants all of us know and understand each other better.

This year 10 of his political science students shifted gears to focus on the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. We’ve all heard and read good things and bad things about NAFTA, but what is it like on both sides of the north and south borders of our country? How does it change your own national identity? What does it do to the economy on both sides?

Those are precisely the issues the class studied.

Though NAFTA is now 10 years old, there is still a debate over whether freeing up trade with Mexico and Canada has been equally good for all North Americans.

This students’ work involved a trip over Spring Break to the Mexican and Canadian borders, where they got a ground-level view of issues about which they had only read in books.

They met with people on both sides of the borders, from high school students and local merchants, to city officials and law enforcement. And the students got an eyeful of how free trade and immigration plays out in the daily lives of border residents; they heard a complicated variety of feelings about what it means to be an American, a Canadian, and a Mexican.

I really hope you’ll join us on Tuesday, May 4, at 4:15 p.m. when the students will share some of what they learned on their travels and in their own research. Four students will give brief oral and visual presentations.

Matt Bredefeld will present: "NAFTA: Great for Trade, but What Else?" Jeff Sostak will talk about "Ever More, and Ever More Dangerous." Steve Andrews’ talk is entitled "National Identity: Is There a New One Growing on the Borders?" And Saad Tahir will present "Messages from the Borders"

After the young men have given their presentations, they will open the discussion and will take questions from the audience.

NAFTA is one of the most controversial and misunderstood international trade agreements ever formed. Be an informed citizen. Attend the Town Hall Meeting to gain a better understand the issues that politicians and big business are wrestling with here in the US, in Canada, and in Mexico.


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