Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

"Living Latina" written by Currin Wallis

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 entry is written by Currin Wallis. She is a freshman student who has begun her first semester of Tulane at CIAPA in Costa Rica 2012. Pura Vida, Professor Gibson

Currin’s Blog:

The Latin American bug has bitten me bad. And I think it must be a
carrier of Latin Fever.

I became a victim during family vacations to Puerto Rico with my
grandparents when I was little, followed by trips to the Dominican
Republic and Mexico, living in El Salvador for five months and now I
find myself spending my first college semester abroad in Costa Rica.

I have always had a taste of traveling, something to do with genetics
I guess, and I take any opportunity to explore a new place. Growing up
with two parents well versed in global travels, I was exposed to the
thrill of looking around and not recognizing anything from a very
young age. That love of different cultures and customs has only
strengthened as I have gotten older and searched for independence. I
have always known that I would do a foreign exchange during college,
so why not start right off the bat? The early study abroad experience,
Tulane at CIAPA program was a perfect match- studying topics I am
interested in, within the context of Costa Rica.

My early brushes with Latin American countries influenced my decision
to start learning Spanish in the hopes of becoming fluent. I knew that
language was a unifier, and the ability to communicate with local
people makes the connections to those cultures all the more
meaningful. Now, I am not only practicing and improving my Spanish,
but by consequence of speaking, learning more about Ticos and creating
relationships. One of my favorite parts of the program so far has been
using my Spanish, even just joking around with the cooks, saying hello
to bus drivers or buying fruit at the market. The best way to take on
a language is to truly dive into the community, and force yourself to
talk, write and think in the local tongue. Living in Costa Rica gives
me the opportunity of immersion, into the language and into the
culture. I love walking around San José, listening to Spanish banter
on the streets, watching clown performances, passing through modern
art exhibits, sipping fresh coffee at a café, meandering around used
book shops and obsessing over the walls of graffiti all over the
streets. The city is a bustling hubbub of lots of interesting
characters and great cultural events. Having lived in a suburb for
eighteen years, this new lifestyle of going to the theater, film
festivals and museums is amazing. As an art kid, having all these
options at my fingertips is like putting a fiver-year-old in a candy
store, I just canâ’‘¬’“¢t get enough.

Some other highlights from the trip so far have been our weekend
excursions to other parts of the country. We have seen Volcán Poas,
Monteverde and Rara Avis. The volcano was extraordinary of course,
with the sulfuric blue pool at the top of the smoking mouth. Both
research centers are out in remote areas, Monteverde in the cloud
forests, and Rara Avis in the rain forrest far away from civilization.
We went on walking tours to see some wildlife, checking out the
caterpillars, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, birds, beautiful
ferns and palms, and we even ran into a couple monkeys. The natural
habitats were absolutely breath taking; walking through the dense
forests and all the tangling vines, it felt like a movie. Rara Avis
was quite the adventure. A three hour climb on horseback followed by
an hour hiking over slippery rocks and through pits of clay, just
getting to the lodge definitely got us all a bit dirty. They gave us
rubber boots to wear because the trails were so muddy, but the hikes
were great, not to mention led by cute tour guides.

Of course, during the week, our days are packed with studying and
work. The courses are really interesting, and we have the advantage of
taking Latin American classes while living in Latin America. Half of
our professors are from Costa Rica, who are fantastic and eager to
teach. I am taking Spanish classes, a Central American Government and
Politics course, Ecological Biology and Climate Change, an art history
class, Intro to Latin American Studies and TIDES. Spanish is taught at
the local university, UCR, a nice break from being on campus for our
other classes. We joined our politicsâ’‘¬’“¢ professors classes at UCR one
week, which was great to meet some other students and sit through a
full class in Spanish. I am trying to get more involved with the
university community, so I signed up for an oil painting class through
UCR. I miss the art studio I had access to in the States, so I canâ’‘¬’“¢t
wait to get back to the drawing board and mess around with paints,
canvas and brushes. I am usually a ceramics student, this will be my
first ever 2-D art class, but itâ’‘¬’“¢s exciting to branch out and try new
mediums.

In addition to the classroom courses, we are fulfilling our service
learning by working in public schools. Acción Joven is a program that
works with at-risk kids from seventh grade and up to keep students in
school and off the streets. Our group works with two English classes,
and so far itâ’‘¬’“¢s been a blast. We get to help out the teacher with
activities, having conversations, and really just trying to connect to
these kids who are about our age. Each of us CIAPA students have our
own projects in the school. I wanted to get involved with reading
groups or tutoring, and somehow I found myself in a teacher position,
leading a class on Anne Frank and the holocaust, all in Spanish. It
was a bit of a shock that the real professor would hand over her class
to an unqualified, eighteen year old, non-native speaker, in the blink
of an eye. It gave me some insight into the public learning
institutions in this country. They arenâ’‘¬’“¢t very structured, nor very
organized, so flexibility is key. Even though I hadnâ’‘¬’“¢t planned being
the teacher for a day, I took the job and had to make it work. I think
the class went pretty well, and I got at least some information and
major themes into their seventh grade minds. Iâ’‘¬’“¢m hoping to do another
class, but with their system, who knows if that will happen.

My experience here, at CIAPA in Costa Rica has been amazing; I
wouldnâ’‘¬’“¢t trade it for a semester in the U.S for anything. Iâ’‘¬’“¢m excited
to see what the next couple months have in store!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Annie Gibson

    Administrative Assistant Professor - Department of Global Education

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Ancient Civilizations K-16 Series for Social Studies Educators

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Ancient Civilizations
K-16 Educator Workshop Series
Spring 2020

For educators of grade levels: K-12

Tulane University’s Middle American Research Institute (MARI), Stone Center for Latin American Studies (SCLAS), S.S. NOLA, and AfterCLASS will host a professional development workshop series open to all K-16 school professionals. These workshops will challenge educators to learn about the unexpected impact and connections of Ancient civilizations from Central America to the Gulf South. In particular, the workshops will foster a deeper comprehension of how to incorporate art, language and food across the disciplines. Participants will learn unique ways to incorporate the Tunica, Maya and Aztec cultures into the classroom in a variety of subjects. Registration for each workshop is $5 and includes light snacks, teaching resources, and a certificate of completion.

The workshop series will prepare teachers:

  • To utilize digital humanities resources in the classroom;
  • To design culturally appropriate primary and secondary research projects;
  • To teach about Pre-Columbian and ancient civilizations, language, geography and foods;
  • To encourage student self-determination through meaningful and relevant cultural projects.

Saturday, January 25, 2020
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
The Tunica of the Lower Mississippi River Valley
Middle American Research Institute – Seminar Room
6823 St. Charles Avenue
This workshop will introduce participants with little or no prior knowledge to ancient Tunica history, art, and language, with special focus on the role of food and native foods of this region. Participants will explore the physical, cultural and linguistic characteristics of the region. Representatives of the Tunica community will introduce their language and culture and the work they do to preserve their language.

Friday, March 6, 2020
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Understanding Maya Fare: Beyond Tamales and Cacao
AfterCLASS – Taylor Education Center
612 Andrew Higgins Blvd. #4003
In collaboration with the Annual Tulane Maya Symposium, this workshop focuses on foods of the Maya. Participants will explore the foods of the Maya focusing on the role of food over time. Join us as we hear from chocolate specialists and our Kaqchikel language scholar will discuss the importance of corn. REGISTER HERE.

Thursday, April 29, 2020
7:00 – 8:30 PM
Teaching Aztec History through Art
Participants in this workshop will explore the art and culture of the Aztec community. This workshop has moved online and will consist of a 60 minute online webinar that includes an introduction to teaching Aztec history, a discussion of different art objects that the Aztecs created which reveal insights into their history, and a discussion of new online resources to incorporate into your teaching.

The webinar is free an open to educators of all grade levels. In order to access the session, please register here.

Global Read Webinar Series 2020

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Diverse Books for the K-12 Classroom
February – June 2020 – All webinars are 6 PM CST
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Once a month, the World Area Book Awards (Américas Award, Africana Book Award, Freeman Book Award, Middle East Book Award, and the South Asia Book Award) will sponsor a 60-minute webinar on a book recognized by one of the awards. Each webinar features a presentation by an award-winning author with discussion on how to incorporate multicultural literature into the classroom. Please read along with us this spring as we explore the world through these award-winning books. We encourage all readers to join in on the conversations each month and ask the author your own questions live.

Be sure to join the conversation with our webinar hashtag #2020ReadingAcrossCultures. Visit www.internationalizingsocialstudies.blog for more information and to register for free.

  • AFRICAFEBRUARY 26, 2020 Africana Book Award
    Grandpa Cacao, A Tale of Chocolate from Farm to Family by Elizabeth Zunon
  • MIDDLE EASTMARCH 18, 2020 Middle East Book Award
    Darius the Great is Not OKAY by Adib Khorram
  • SOUTH ASIAAPRIL 14, 2020 – South Asia Book Award
    The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art by Barb Rosenstock
  • LATIN AMERICAMAY 11, 2020 – Américas Award
    Auntie Luce‘€™s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour
  • ASIAJUNE 23, 2020 – Freeman Book Award
    Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

All sessions are free and open to the public. Register by visiting internationalizingsocialstudies.org. Sponsored by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, the South Asia National Outreach Consortium, the Middle East Outreach Council, the African Studies Outreach Council, and The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia.

Online Summer Book Group for K-12 Educators

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For pre-service, early career and veteran teachers who love reading and learning through literature who want to explore award-winning books for the middle and early high school classrooms. Join us as we read four books that explore stories of coming-of-age from multiple perspectives. Participants will receive a copy of each book and participate in an open discussion with other K-12 educators. We will launch the book group with The Other Half of Happy. The group will meet online and explore the real story behind this award-winning book with the author Rebecca Balrcárcel. Join us this summer as we discover new stories and books for your classroom.

Register here for $15 (includes all 4 books).

All online Zoom meetings are at 7:00 PM CST.

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Sponsored by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and AfterCLASS at Tulane University. For more information, please email crcrts@tulane.edu.