Meet Silvana Martinez – the new Events Lead at SFU Public Square! Silvana joins SFU Public Square following a year in the non-profit sector. Originally from Colombia and holding a BA in Human Geography from UBC, Silvana enjoys learning from different perspectives and contributing to the creation of safe spaces for dialogue and knowledge sharing. She is excited to work and learn alongside the university and the local community to deliver engaging and inclusive programming with SFU Public Square. In her spare time, Silvana enjoys dancing, singing, and walking around the city with a good playlist on her headphones.
Gabrielle: What drew you to work with SFU Public Square?
Silvana: After some experience with the social services sector, I was looking to work within community engagement from a fresh new angle. I loved my time in university, and I was looking for a way to bridge my academic interests and my drive to engage with the local community. SFU Public Square was a perfect fit as a program dedicated to knowledge mobilization, as well as a place for student participation with community engaged learning.
Can you tell me a bit more about Human Geography? What was your favourite dimension of this field of study?
Of course! I always get asked about Human Geography. It is a discipline that broadly studies the relationships between humans and their environments. I was very drawn to its interdisciplinary nature, and since I had so many interests as a student, it allowed me to take classes from “Film & the City” to “The Urbanization of the Global South”. But what I liked the most about this area of study is that it helped me understand social space. It was from studying Human Geography that concepts such as situated knowledge and positionality came to interest me so much. We all learn “from” somewhere, and this is shaped by our lived experiences. It's so crucial to recognize that.
You have mentioned that you value the creation of safe spaces for dialogue and knowledge sharing. What does this look like to you and why do you think safe spaces are important to create for SFU Public Square events?
I love this question because ‘creating safe spaces’ is literally human geography! We make and take space as we move through everyday situations. When approaching a conversation or an event, being mindful of where people are coming from – validating their lived experiences – is key to making the space safe and accessible, allowing for meaningful dialogue to happen. And this is where the best ideas are brewed. Making spaces safe includes recognizing different ways of knowing and expertise, accessibility needs for speakers and attendees, and designing events to highlight the inclusion of diverse voices. I am looking forward to learning more about how Public Square works to make its events as inclusive as possible. I am also excited to collaborate with partners that enrich my understanding of the world in so many ways!
We're excited to have you on our team and bring your skills around events! What are you most eager to tackle this year?
Our upcoming Deep Dives series! We will be active in the programming of these events, and I am excited to engage with amazing speakers that can reach youth and students in key topics that affect us. From access to mental health services and contraception to the implications of AI and the rise of the far-right in Canada, these conversations are urgent.
What book have you recently read and enjoyed? And what are you listening to currently?
I recently enjoyed reading Just Kids by Patti Smith – I like creative non-fiction. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of reggaeton, which I love dancing to, and Karol G’s new album is one of many fresh female voices in a typically male-dominated genre. I’m also enjoying many podcasts right now, like Se Regalan Dudas, the captivating storytelling from NPR’s Radio Ambulante, and interviews from our very own SFU VOCE’s Below the Radar.
Outside of work, what's been keeping you busy these days?
I love walking around the city and soaking up this lovely change of seasons! I’m also going dancing, singing in my room and with my friends, and writing a few poems that may or may not ever see the light of day.
Please join us in welcoming Silvana to the SFU Public Square team!