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 I’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 “typical” college campus, and I loved it from the start. Frankly, I could not rave enough about how much I’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 — the first time I flipped through La Nación, which is Costa Rica’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. It’s about connecting yourself with the culture and the people around you. That’s the way you learn, and CIAPA does that.


  • Annie Gibson

    Administrative Assistant Professor - Department of Global Education





All Events

Upcoming Events

Dennis A. Georges Lecture in Hellenic Culture

View Full Event Description

Join Dr. Emily Greenwood as she will be speaking about Greek language/literature, slavery, and the “politics of the human” when she delivers the Dennis A. Georges Lecture in Hellenic Culture.

Emily Greenwood is Professor and Chair of the Classics Department at Yale University where she also holds a joint appointment in African American Studies. She is one of the pre-eminent thinkers on Greek historiography of her generation as well as the leading figure in re-evaluating the legacy of Graeco-Roman culture in colonial and post-colonial contexts. In addition to her book Afro-Greeks: Dialogues Between Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Classics in the Twentieth Century (Oxford 2010) [Joint winner of the Runciman Prize], she has published over a dozen articles and book chapters that investigate the rich and nuanced reception of ancient Greek literature in the African Diaspora, especially in Caribbean literature.

Africana Studies Brown Bag Lecture with Prof. Dan Sharp

View Full Event Description

“Naná Vasconcelos: Afro-Brazilian Percussion in Paris and New York City”

Dan Sharp is currently research for a book that revolves around the 1980 album Saudades by Afro-Brazilian Naná Vasconcelos. The book will situate Naná‘s reimagining of percussion and voice in the context of his itinerant life in New York, Europe and Brazil in the 1970s and 1980s. Snacks provided!

Why Marronage Still Matters: Lecture with Dr. Neil Roberts

View Full Event Description

What is the opposite of freedom? Dr. Neil Roberts answers this question with definitive force: slavery, and from there he unveils powerful new insights on the human condition as it has been understood between these poles. Crucial to his investigation is the concept ofmarronage—a form of slave escape that was an important aspect of Caribbean and Latin American slave systems. Roberts examines the liminal and transitional space of slave escape to develop a theory of freedom as marronage, which contends that freedom is fundamentally located within this space.In this lecture, Roberts will explore how what he calls the “post-Western” concept and practice of marronage—of flight—bears on our world today.

This event is sponsored by the Kathryn B. Gore Chair in French Studies, Department of French and Italian.
For more information contact Ryan Joyce at or Fayçal Falaky at

Newcomb Art Museum to host María José de la Macorra and Eric Peréz for Gallery Talk

View Full Event Description

Join us at the Newcomb Art Museum in welcoming Mexican artists María José de la Macorra and Eric Peréz for a noontime gallery talk as they discuss the current exhibition Clay in Transit: Contemporary Mexican Ceramics (which features works by María José de la Macorra) and the focus and process of their work. The talk is free and open to the public.

The Newcomb Art Museum is featuring two ceramic exhibitions entitled Clay in Transit featuring contemporary Mexican ceramics and Clay in Place featuring Newcomb pottery and guild plus other never-before-exhibited pieces from the permanent collection.The exhibit presents the work of seven Mexican-born sculptors who bridge the past and present by creating contemporary pieces using an ancient medium. The exhibit will feature works by Ana Gómez, Saúl Kaminer, Perla Krauze, María José Lavín, María José de la Macorra, Gustavo Pérez, Paloma Torres.

Exhibition curator and artist Paloma Torres explains, “In this contemporary moment, clay is a borderline. It is a material that has played a critical role in the development of civilization: early man used clay not only to represent spiritual concerns but also to hold food and construct homes.” While made of a primeval material, the exhibited works nonetheless reflect the artists’ twenty-first-century aesthetics and concerns as well as their fluency in diverse media—from painting and drawing to video, graphic design, and architecture.

The exhibit will run from January 18, 2018, through March 24, 2018. For more information on the exhibit and the artists, please visit the Newcomb Art Museum’s website.

Clay in Transit is presented in collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico.

The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Jennifer Wooster (NC ’91), Lora & Don Peters (A&S ’81), Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University, Andrew and Eva Martinez, and the Newcomb Art Museum advisory board

Bate Papo! Practice your Portuguese and enjoy some Brazilian treats: kibe

View Full Event Description

Bate Papo! Try a bit of Brazil’s Middle Eastern flavor with these kibe treats. This event is sponsored by TULASO and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Admission is free. All levels welcome. For more information, please contact Megwen at

Bate Papo! Practice your Portuguese and enjoy some Brazilian treats: bolo de aipim

View Full Event Description

Bate Papo! Drop by the LBC mezzanine floor for a slice of manioc sponge cake. We will be spread out across the green couches so come by to take a load off and chat for a bit. This event is sponsored by TULASO and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Admission is free. All levels welcome. For more information, please contact Megwen at