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From coup to classroom
Amado Lascar, an associate professor at Ohio University, lived through the Chilean revolution and is now doing what he loves.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series about Ohio University professors who come from different countries.
To say Amado Lascar is a jack of many trades would be an understatement.
Lascar is a poet and a certified accountant in both Australia and Chile. He received his private pilot certificate through the Russ College of Engineering and Technology’s department of aviation at Ohio University and is an assistant professor in Modern Languages and the Latin American Studies Program with an OU salary of $60,629.
“He is one of the few professors I’ve come across who has a true passion for his subject matter, a pursuit of higher knowledge and teaching in general,” said Seth Baker, a senior studying communications and sociology and a student of Lascar’s.
Growing up in Penaflor, Chile, Lascar was 17 when the Salvador Allende government was overthrown in a military coup — an experience he says has helped shape his many passions.
Allende was a Socialist who became the world’s first freely elected Marxist president in 1970 and initiated the “Chilean way to socialism.” However, by 1972, the country was marked by steep economic decline, said Patrick Barr-Melej, associate history professor.
The military intervened Sept. 11, 1973 and overthrew the Allende government at the presidential palace La Moneda Palace. The coup destroyed democracy and instituted an authoritarian regime led by Augusto Pinochet that lasted until 1990, Barr-Melej said.
“Regardless of their political outlooks, all Chileans were affected deeply, in one way or another, by Allende’s revolution, its end and the military regime that followed,” he said.
Lascar went to school at the Instituto Nacional — two blocks away from the La Moneda Palace — but overslept the day of the coup and wasn’t there when the military showed up.
During Allende’s time, there was a lot of freedom, Lascar said.
“(It) was an oasis against the militarization of Latin America,” he said.
“Pinochet’s time instead was violent, repressive and reactionary.”
Lascar had first been to the States for a student exchange about two years prior when he was 15. He visited for a second time in 1996 while looking for correspondents for El Faro, a Spanish magazine he worked for in Australia.
“One of my contacts was Professor Juan Armando Epple, and he invited me for a poetry conference at Eugene, Ore., in 1996. And then, when I was there he asked me to apply for the Ph.D. program at the University of Oregon,” he said.
“My life is like that — no plan, things just happen.”
Mary Jane Kelley, associate Spanish professor, first met Lascar during his job interview at OU.
“Working with him is inspirational,” she said. “He is always mulling over new ideas and when he shares them, it gives me something new and different to think about.”
He takes students out of their intellectual comfort zone and exposes them to new points of view, she added.
Kathleen Ott, a junior studying global studies: Europe and Spanish, said one of Lascar’s best qualities is his ability to crack jokes while maintaining his professionalism.
“I think his use of humor makes it easier to relate to him and appreciate what he’s saying,” she said. “That makes the difference between a class you endure and a class you enjoy.”