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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 5 | May 6, 2004

Culture and Dance Shaped Wesbrook Scholar

War drove her to Canada

By April Wilson-Lange

Lissette Torres has a passion for life that’s fuelled by her culture and personal experience.

Torres, 22, immigrated to Canada with her family when she was seven years old to escape El Salvador’s civil war.

“I’m amazed by my parents courage and selflessness in deciding to immigrate to Canada,” says Torres, a political science major who graduates this month. “They gave up everything for my sisters and I to have a better future. What they did inspires me.”

Because of this experience, the Wesbrook scholar is fascinated with immigration policy and law.

That’s why she jumped at the chance to work as a policy analyst for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in Ottawa. This was one of five co-op work terms she completed while at UBC.

“It was an exciting time to work for CIC,” she recalls. “The government was in the process of passing a new immigration Act. This is an important issue for Canada because we are a nation shaped by the strength and diversity of people from all over the world.”

The experience influenced Torres’ academic work and research. She wrote a term paper on Canada’s new Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act that was published in the UBC Journal of Political Studies.

After having a second paper published in the journal, Torres became its editor-in-chief last fall.

Reflecting her passion for public policy, international diplomacy and law, Torres has attended several Model United Nation (MUN) conferences across Canada. Last year, as director of UBC’s MUN-International Criminal Court, she led the mock trial of General Augusto Pinochet for crimes against humanity in 1970s Chile.

When not engrossed in academic pursuits, Torres performs in Vancouver for a semi-professional Cuban salsa dance troupe.

“I’ve danced my whole life,” she laughs. “It’s part of my Latin culture.”

Though a Vancouverite at heart, Torres will relocate to Ontario in the Fall to attend law school and hopes to eventually work with the Canadian Foreign Service.

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