Dr. Gene Bigler a visiting professor of International Relations at the University of the Pacific, and retired member of the U.S. Foreign Service; is a passionate man about Latin America’s culture and history.
“I always believed that the lack of understanding between our cultures was the cause of our problems,” said Dr. Bigler.
When Dr. Bigler speaks about Latin America, his eyes reveal a unique spark found in those who love what they do.
While other kids admired leaders such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, at a young age, Dr. Bigler, in his six grade class, had an admiration for Simon Bolivar, “the George Washington of South America,” Bigler compared the two leaders in their respectful geographical areas.
Dr. Bigler noted that his passion for Latin America comes from his rich cultural exchange at an early age as he grew-up in Southern California, in a “Barrio” (neighborhood) with Chicano neighbors. Thanks to a scholarship he was able to graduate from the University of the Pacific in the 1960`s.
He taught in both Latin America and in the United States; eventually, he became an active member of the U.S. Diplomatic Service and after 38 years he returned to Stockton — when PACIFIC was looking to restart its ties with Latin America.
“I try to connect our students with universities and opportunities in Latin America,” said Dr. Bigler identifying one of the challenges of our present society, “it is essential that more students have these experiences, because one of the problems we have in society is the misunderstandings we have with our neighbors.”
In addition to his services to PACIFIC, the local community has benefited from Bigler`s experience. At Humphreys College he introduced the first Latino based classes. “There are a number of Latin-born students in that school, but they lack knowledge about their roots and the relationship between the U.S. and Latin America.”
Furthermore, Dr. Bigler is a board member of PUENTES, a community garthen
Dr. Bigler spent twenty-one years working for the U.S Foreign Service; his overseas positions included Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs, U.S. Embassy Panama, Press Attaché, U.S. Embassy Lima and Acting Chief of the Office of Research for Latin America.
As diplomacy expert Bigler fostered a strong relation between the United States and many countries such as Mexico, Peru, Panama and Venezuela.