The popular annual ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) Student Leadership Conference will return with in-person presentations Sept. 21 to 27, as well as a “Migration Stories of Courage” conference theme.

"Today, more people than ever live in a country other than the one in which they were born,” according to a United Nations quote on the ALANA Conference website. “While many individuals migrate out of choice, many others migrate out of necessity."  

Organizers note that many factors historically cause this movement around the world, and often migration involves complex stories of survival. In the process, these stories show the complicated nature of displacement, adaptation and power.

Coordinated by student leaders, the 35th annual conference’s theme connects with highlights such as Oswego Reading Initiative author Claudia D. Hernández, whose award-winning memoir “Knitting the Fog” recounts her perilous journey from Guatemala to Los Angeles, and keynote speaker Saul Flores, whose “Walk of the Immigrants” initiative went from Ecuador to North Carolina to raise funds and awareness while he was a college student.

Indigenous Canadian dance troupe Red Sky Performance will kick off ALANA activities with their award-winning show “Trace” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre. The group’s mission is to create inspiring experiences of contemporary Indigenous arts and culture that transform society. The company strives to drive its passion forward and elevate Indigenous arts and culture in ways that celebrate, uplift and respect Indigenous cultures. Artswego and the Oswego Gospel Choir host the event. Tickets are required to attend (free for SUNY Oswego students; $5 for other students; $15 for SUNY Oswego faculty, staff and alumni; and $20 for the general public), with reservations available through

Panels invite discussion

A pair of panel discussions will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 22. Jessica Hernandez and Kelsey Gillett from Education Abroad will present on “The 5 Big F’s in Study Abroad: Funds, Fear, Faculty Support, Family and Fit” at 1 p.m. in 201 Marano Campus Center. The session will let attendees learn about the college’s study abroad opportunities in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. 

Later that day, a 6 p.m. “Migration vs. Immigration Panel,” also in 201 Marano, will involve the Latino Student Union hosting a discussion to engage a conversation about the differences between the two.

At 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, also in 201 Marano, the Caribbean Student Association will host a panel of international faculty and staff discussing their experiences in a panel presentation titled “Experiences of Migration.”

Flores’ keynote at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, in Sheldon Hall ballroom will detail his three months walking, hitchhiking and sleeping on the ground and in hiding places. As a North Carolina State senior in 2010, Flores walked 5,328 miles through 10 countries and nine border crossings to document how grueling and dangerous the journey of immigrants to the United States can be and to raise money for an elementary school in Atencingo, Mexico. By hearing about the "Walk of the Immigrants" project, students can gain a deeper understanding of the struggles, hardships, joy and hope that immigrants experience on their journeys. The event is hosted by the college chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants and ALANA Student Leaders Advisory Group.

Peace Walk returns

The popular ALANA Peace Walk returns in person on Sunday, Sept. 26. Hosted by the Black Student Union, this 2 p.m. march led by ALANA organizations is designed to bring together students from all walks of life and to demonstrate diversity within the Oswego community. This 11th annual walk promotes unity among the students, faculty and staff within the campus community and Oswego’s residents. Beginning at Oswego’s City Hall and ending at Marano Campus Center, the Peace Walk also celebrates the 1963 March on Washington in support of jobs and freedom.

Also on Sept. 26, the ALANA Spoken Word Poetry and Networking Reception will feature Jillian Hanesworth, Buffalo’s first poet laureate and director of leadership development at Open Buffalo. The poetry session from 3 to 4 p.m. is open to everyone and attendees are invited to share spoken word poetry of their own. An ALANA Networking Reception from 4 to 5 p.m., open to everybody, will follow. The Black Student Union hosts these activities in the Marano Campus Center food court.

Hernández’s talk at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27, in Sheldon Hall ballroom on her experiences, writings and activities will wrap the 35th annual conference. The Guatemala-born photographer, poet, editor, translator and bilingual educator will retrace the emotional journey that is the topic of her ORI-selected book, “Knitting the Fog.” In addition to that book, a finalist for the 2020 Firecracker Award in Creative Nonfiction, Hernández also is an award-winning editor for her anthology photography book “Women, Mujeres, IXOQ: Revolutionary Visions,” which received the International Latino Book Award in 2019. Additionally, she is the founder of the ongoing project Today’s Revolutionary Women of Color. This event is hosted by the Office of the Provost and African Student Organization.

Some of these programs also dovetail with Latino/a/x Heritage Month, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. 

For more information, visit the ALANA Conference website.