Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

"CIAPA Early Experience" written by Courtney Smith

By Annie Gibson

I am handing over my blog on the CIAPA Experience to the students participating in the program. This way you all can have a better idea of what life is like for a student at CIAPA. This blog is written by Courtney Smith. She is a freshman student who has begun her first semester of Tulane at CIAPA in Costa Rica 2012. Pura Vida, Professor Gibson

Courtney’s Blog:

When I was finishing high school, I had no idea what to expect. I wondered what college would be like constantly. After I was accepted into the CIAPA program, I found myself daydreaming about dense, foggy jungles Iâ’‘¬’“¢d never before seen, a knot of anxiety and excitement winding tighter in my stomach each moment that drew me closer to that fabled day, August 25th, when I would be venturing out of the quiet small-town atmosphere of Harrisburg, Illinois, and into the strange new culture that is San José, Costa Rica.

Like so many of the best things in life, it caught me completely by surprise. I suppose that my first mistake was assuming that I could properly prepare myself for such a transition. The large, bustling city of San José was definitely a far cry from Harrisburg; the sheer number of people surrounding me at any one time was enough to put me on edge. The flurry of conversation around me was unintelligible to my untrained ear, and I felt very much like a lost puppy padding along these foreign streets behind my professor and some of the other students. Despite this, however, it was a very enjoyable experience. Once I became somewhat accustomed to these new conditions, I found I could not stop myself from grinning like a fool, taking all of the activity in stride. Of course, this does not even take into account my perception of the CIAPA campus. Although I was given plenty of information about it and even shown some pictures, I still had it in my head that it was much larger than what it actually was. What really surprised me, however, was the aura of tranquility that seemed to envelop me the moment I stepped foot in the dorm building. It was quiet and the sunlight streamed into the building prettily from the glass doors. This completely contradicted my characterization of a â’‘¬Å“typicalâ’‘¬Â college campus, and I loved it from the start. Frankly, I could not rave enough about how much Iâ’‘¬’“¢ve already enjoyed being here with Tulane at CIAPA. The vast majority of the people I have come into contact with here are helpful, friendly, warm, kind, and, perhaps most importantly, patient with me and my limited Spanish. Had I not joined this program, I doubt I ever would have developed any sort of interest in or appreciation for Latin American culture. Learning within that context is insightful in ways I never could have predicted. I was also surprised to find such a strong United States influence here in Costa Rica â’‘¬‘€œ the first time I flipped through La Nación, which is Costa Ricaâ’‘¬’“¢s leading newspaper, I recall turning to a random page only to find a picture of U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney to the left and an advertisement for KFC on the right. The best thing about the CIAPA program, I think, is its hands-on approach to learning. There is a big difference between reading about the diversity of the cloud forest in a textbook and actually walking a trail at Monteverde, breathing in the humid air and scanning the rich foliage around you for that snake or that frog you wanted to see. Itâ’‘¬’“¢s about connecting yourself with the culture and the people around you. Thatâ’‘¬’“¢s the way you learn, and CIAPA does that.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Annie Gibson

    Administrative Assistant Professor - Department of Global Education

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CIPR Fall Speaker Series

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Please join us Mondays at noon for our Fall speaker Series
Markets, the State, and Democracy in Latin America
October 14, October 21, November 11, and November 18.

In the 2019 fall series, Markets, the State, and Democracy in Latin America, speakers will discuss emerging issues that have surfaced as the result of the opportunities and challenges to democratic governance that markets have brought to the region. Latin America experienced a major influx of investment, particularly in the resource sector, over the past several decades. While this foreign investment helped hasten economic development, it also brought a backlash of resource nationalism and increased calls for redistribution. Moreover, Latin America is now a model in its own right, with other countries in the Global South adopting its state-sponsored development strategies in the resource sector. These presentations will also explore how Latin America is navigating a sea change in geopolitics, with China emerging as a challenger to the United States as the region’s main trade partner and ally.

For more information, check out our Fall Series Poster

Refugee Crises Now: A closer look at the Americas, Syria, and the Rohingya

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The Tulane History department, Jewish Studies program, CELT, and the Altman Program are sponsoring a talk by Jana Mason from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Mason will be addressing the refugee crises from various parts of the globe, including Venezuela and Central America.

Graduate Student Writing Group

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Weekly structured writing sessions for Latin Americanist graduate students in all departments. Students, who arrive with a project and a goal, work in communal silence during two 45 minute blocks separated by a 10-minute coffee break. All meetings will be held in the Latin American Library Seminar Room. Co-sponsored by the Stone Center and the Latin American Library.

Latin American Writers Series: Alberto Barrera Tyszka

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Ecuadorian writer and Tulane Visiting Scholar Gabriela Alemán interviews Venezuelan writer Alberto Barrera Tyszka about his life, interests, and influences. Their discussion will be followed by an open Q&A and an informal reception. This event will be held in Spanish.

About the Latin American Writers Series

This series brings together Latin America’s most representative creative voices and the editorial entrepreneurs that publish them. By way of interviews conducted by renowned Ecuadorian writer Gabriela Alemán and presentations of various editorial missions, the guests will shed light on a literary world shaped by the contemporary issues of the continent. Moving forward, their conversations will comprise the centerpiece of a digital archive that introduces their ideas to a global audience.

Este serie reúne a los autores más representativos de la escritura continental y los editores que los publican. A través de entrevistas con la reconocida escritora ecuatoriana Gabriela Alemán y presentaciones de proyectos editoriales, los invitados explorarán los vínculos entre el mundo literario y la realidad continental. Sus conversaciones se convertirán después en el eje de un archivo digital que busca llevar estas ideas a un público global.

About the Author

Born in Caracas, Alberto Barrera Tyszka has published over a dozen works of poetry, short story, chronicle, novel, and biography. His most recent publications include the novels Patria o Muerte (2015) and Rating (2011), the poetic anthology La inquietud (2013), the collection of chronicles Un país a la semana (2013), and the short story collection Crímenes (2009). In 2005, he collaborated with Cristina Marcano to write the definitive biography of Hugo Chávez, Hugo Chávez sin uniforme: una historia personal (2005). Patria o muerte won the 2015 Premio Tusquets de Novela, and his novel La enfermedad, translated into English as The Sickness (2010), received the 2006 Herralde Award. Barrera also writes for television and has scripted soap operas for Venezuelan, Mexican, Colombian, and Argentinian networks.

Pan-American Life in New Orleans: Exhibition Opening and Reception

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Pan-American Life Insurance Group and The Latin American Library at Tulane University cordially invite you to an exhibit opening and reception to unveil the Pan-American Life Insurance Group (PALIG) Collection. The PALIG Collection, generously donated to The Latin American Library, documents the company’s 109 years connecting New Orleans with Latin America. The exhibit will feature photographs, manuscripts, and other materials from the PALIG archives as well as other holdings from the LAL that shed light on the long history of commercial and cultural ties between New Orleans and Latin America.

See the LAL Facebook page for more details and updates: https://www.facebook.com/events/454592075187553/

Bate papo!: Portuguese Conversation Hour

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A weekly hour of Portuguese conversation and tasty treats hosted by Prof. Megwen Loveless. All levels are welcome!

The theme for this semester will be Passion Fruit. So bring your sweet tooth to try this week’s homemade delicacy: Bala de maracujá.