Journalist Giovanni Daboin, Colleen McCoy, outreach coordinator for the Vanderbilt University Center for Latin American Studies, and Tennessee Chapter President Dr.Gary Linn discuss the historic collaboration between the University and the Tennessee-Venezuela Partnership.
The Tennessee and Venezuela Partners of the Americas Chapters are documenting four decades of partnership together and continue their efforts despite the barriers of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tennessee Chapter incorporated in Nashville in 1967, and the Venezuela Chapter was established in Caracas several years later (1974). They have worked together for the mutual benefit of Venezuela and Tennessee for 46 years.
From left to right: President of Cumberland University Dr.Paul Stumb, Journalist Daboin, and Tennessee Chapter Board Members Dr. Linn (president) and Dr. Galen Hull.
Given this historic relationship, the two Chapters are creating an archive of joint Partners programs and interchanges in higher education, culture, health, youth development, and sports which will document and preserve this legacy. Further, they are revitalizing university and partner relationships that facilitated most of their joint programs over the past four decades. Venezuelan Journalist Giovanni Daboin is leading this project in coordination with Chapter Presidents Yraima Mendez in Venezuela and Dr. Gary Linn in Tennessee.
Journalist Daboin makes an arepa with Tennessee Chapter Members.
Daboin came to Tennessee in March 2020 to conduct personal interviews with members of the Tennessee Partners who traveled to Venezuela in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s for a variety of programs that were supported by the Partners Education and Culture Program. He also completed interviews with Tennessee Partners who received travelers, including youth, from Caracas, Maracaibo, Merida Táchira, and other Venezuelan cities. A focus of his interviews has been the interviewees' assessment of the lasting value of their travel and experience in Venezuela and, similarly, the impact that receiving travelers from Venezuela made on the individuals and families who received them.
Journalist Daboin interviewing Tennessee Chapter Member Brad Major about his involvement in Venezuela with Partners Youth programs.
Daboin and Tennessee Chapter President Linn also examined documents, artifacts, and project reports of Tennessee-Venezuela Partners activities that are preserved and stored in Nashville. Among the items are logs of "phone patch" conversations that linked the Tennessee and Venezuelan Partnerships through local telephone systems and short wave radio; a two-person woven wool hammock gifted by the Guajiro indigenous people to the Tennessee Partners; and a record album that is a compilation of Venezuelan folkloric music that was recorded on-site in rural and urban communities by Dr. David Evans of the University of Memphis.
To sustain and revitalize historic relationships between universities and colleges in Tennessee, their counterparts and partners in Venezuela, Daboin visited and presented to higher education institutions in Tennessee. He met with faculty, administrators, and students at Vanderbilt University, Cumberland University, Middle Tennessee State University, and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (Institute of Agriculture and Global Engagement Center). A high point of the academic visits was an address that Daboin gave at Cumberland University entitled, “Venezuela Past, Present, and Future,” which over 60 students and faculty attended.
Journalist Daboin speaking to faculty and students at Cumberland University on Venezuela's past, present, and future.
Daboin was supposed to return home to Venezuela in late March, but due to COVID-19, he cannot until the country’s borders open again. The journalist continues to collect testimonies virtually and the Chapters' archival report will serve as a model for other Chapters. Overall, this was a very productive Partners project, which will yield a bi-lateral archive preserving the legacy of the Tennessee-Venezuela Partnership.