Elizabeth Greco, a senior at Hartwick College, said presenting her original poems at an undergraduate student conference this weekend was the second most influential thing she has done during her time in Oneonta.
The most influential, Greco said, were the trips she took to Peru and Bolivia, which inspired the collection of poems, titled “Encrucijada/Crossroads” for her English senior project.
The Second LACAS Latin American, Caribbean, Latina, and Indigenous Undergraduate Student Conference, Greco said, which was held at Binghamton University on Saturday. Greco was among 39 student presenters from 16 or 17 universities presenting on themes of education, politics, economics, criminal justice, race, gender, sexual orientation, sexuality, class, ethnicity, color, culture, music and dance.
But Greco, an English and Spanish dual major with a minor in Latin American studies, broke the mold when she read from her collection of poems. Greco said the conference was “fantastic,” and said she was just as excited to listen to other students as she was to share her own poems.
“I got to learn about so many different movements and issues and spent time with so many different people,” Greco, 21, said. “I’m so glad I went.”
Greco, of North Canaan, Conn., said her poems reflect her experiences during three separate trips to South America, which she called eye-opening.
“My poems deal with everything that goes along with a girl, raised in small-town America, where there are such rigid borders, traveling to a foreign country where that is not the case, and feeling like an outsider upon returning home,” Greco said.
Greco said several professors encouraged her to submit her work for the conference, including her senior project adviser, Robert Bensen, who called Greco “among the best writers” he’s seen in his 35 years at Hartwick College.
“It is quite an honor for an undergraduate student to present at this level,” Bensen, a professor of English, said. “It’s exciting to see a writer discover and grow into her vocation, especially within the opportunities that Hartwick provides. ... These are highly accomplished, confident poems that open trails we’d do well to follow.”
Greco, who is applying to the Peace Corps, said her poems have provided her with an outlet to work through her feelings about her trips. Her goal for her poems, Greco said, is to make other people aware of the rigid borders we’re so used to and help encourage the elimination of those boundaries.
Said Greco, “I’m all about unity.”