During the 2018-2019 academic year, Penn welcomed Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico, to campus as a Perry World House Distinguished Global Leader In-Residence.
President Calderón gave several keynote addresses, mentored students, guest lectured in classes, and brought to campus the enlightened perspective and expertise that come from leading the highest levels of government.
On Wednesday, May 8, the roles were reversed when Penn held a special event in Mexico City, where President Calderón and Perry World House Director William Burke-White treated an audience of alumni and friends to an exclusive, topical conversation.
The Penn & Wharton Club of Mexico brings alumni together to share resources, expertise, and vision as we identify issues and drive change in our community and our world.”Luis Enrique Izaza Ávila, GL’12, WEv’12, secretary, Penn & Wharton Club of Mexico
Hosted by the Penn & Wharton Club of Mexico, the wide-ranging discussion touched on critical global issues such as the delicate balance of international trade, developing principled immigration policy, maintaining peaceful global relations, and tackling climate change—an issue of particular importance for Calderón, former Secretary of Energy for Mexico.
As one attendee raised concerns about the state of the geopolitical order, Calderón responded with a sage declaration about how to strengthen the democratic process.
“Democracy needs citizens,” Calderón said. “It’s important to promote the urgency of civic participation. We need real citizens participating in politics—proposing candidates and policies, getting support from the people, arguing in public debates, and running for office.”
The event gave Penn’s community in Mexico a unique opportunity to engage with their former president in an intimate setting. “To be able to hear from a global leader in politics, and to find out he has some of the same ideas as I do, makes it feel personal to me,” said Lenya Bloom, C’02. “This evening was a reminder of the excellence that we have graduated from.”
Bloom traveled more than two hours to reconnect with Penn at the event, but she finds other ways to remain engaged with her alma mater throughout the year. “I participate in the Penn Alumni Interview Program to represent the University here in Mexico,” said Bloom. “I also still support one of my favorite places on campus, Kelly Writers House, and stay up to date through their newsletter.”
For Juan Perez-Gea, C’16, being connected to Penn helps him remain a global citizen. “For me, Penn opened a window to the rest of the world,” he said. “During my time at Penn, I learned so much about life around the world not just in the classroom, but through the people I met.”
The personal connection is one of the most rewarding parts of Penn’s global events. “These gatherings really bring our Mexican community together,” said Perez-Gea. “You saw younger people, older people, all age ranges and a whole spectrum of perspectives here tonight. That’s what makes these events so valuable.”
Alumni engagement is a cornerstone of our community’s strength. Throughout The Power of Penn Campaign, alumni and friends will have even more opportunities to connect with the intellectual life of the University at events at home and abroad.
Penn alumni, family, and friends are linked by deep, long-lasting relationships. Penn people are also unique. They stand out in any crowd, in every way. That’s the Power of Penn we have been talking about today.”Luis Enrique Izaza Ávila