Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

"Developing Understanding Through Studying Abroad" by Porter Reim

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 Porter Reim. He is a freshman student who has begun his first semester of Tulane at CIAPA in Costa Rica 2012. Pura Vida, Professor Gibson

By Porter Reim

One of the primary reasons students choose to study abroad is to experience and learn about a different culture. While this is of course a wonderful reason, something Iâ’‘¬’“¢ve learned that is equally important is studying abroad teaches you how to experience a different culture. Even though the other students and I have only been in Costa Rica for six weeks, we have learned a great deal about Costa Rica, but more importantly, have learned a great deal about how to learn. Since our arrival, we have been working in two local schools with Fundación Acción Joven, an organization that encourages performance in school and emphasizes the importance of education. We first approached the students with some apprehension and unfamiliarity, but have since connected and learned how similar our two groups are. As we teach them English, they teach us all you need to connect is a positive attitude and something to talk about. Little is off limits in the connected world we live in, and many of the students have the same interests as us. Although we may fall out of contact with some of these students, we will continue to use the skills we learned, just as they will use the English they learned.

Recently, we traveled to Rara Avis, a lodge and research center stationed deep in the jungle for a weekend of experiencing nature. A group of German biology students who were conducting research came the same weekend, and we shared all of our meals with them. Although we could have stayed within ourselves, we used our opportunities to become friends with the Germans and learn more about them. Because we kept open minds and developed relationships with them, they shared with us the interesting animals and insects they found. On two different nights, they allowed us to examine up close rare bats that had been caught. Because we were open-minded, we received an opportunity few people will have. However, those werenâ’‘¬’“¢t the only new opportunities that I had. While swimming in a pool at the base of a waterfall, I decided to leap off a very high rock. Initially I did not want to and was very scared, but finally jumped anyways. I knew it was safe and I knew that people had done it before me, and would do it after me. All it took was that willingness on my part. I enjoyed the experience immensely, and climbed back up and jumped off two more times. I will never forget how much I didnâ’‘¬’“¢t want to jump, but I will also never forget how glad I am I did. It is often making that first metaphorical, or literal, jump that is the hardest, and studying abroad takes students out of their comfort zones to find how enjoyable the unfamiliar can be. Finally, besides teaching how to act when experiencing a culture, studying abroad also teaches how to act when others are experiencing your culture. Being a minority in a foreign country, I became aware of how foreigners must feel in my country. My idea of what is a custom or tradition widen greatly, and it became clear how much of day to day life is affected by one custom or another. Although I have only been in Costa Rica for six out of fourteen weeks, I have already learned innumerable lessons for engaging other cultures, and helping others engage my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Annie Gibson

    Administrative Assistant Professor - Department of Global Education

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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.

Latin American Writers Series Fall 2019 Book Display

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The Latin American Library has put together a display of books written by authors participating in the Fall 2019 Latin American Writers Series: Luis Negrón, Power Paola, Alberto Barrera Tyszka, and Gabriela Weiner. All books on display are available for check out. When you visit, be sure to grab a free bookmark commemorating the series!

CANCELLED: Café con Alberto Barrera

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The Stone Center invites you to Café con Alberto Barrera. This intimate meet and greet will be an opportunity to connect with Barrera, an influential writer and thinker from Venezuela. In addition to his creative work as a poet and novelist, he has co-authored, with journalist Cristina Marcano, Hugo Chávez sin uniforme: una historia personal, the first biography written on this controversial figure. He has also penned Alta Traición and Un país a la semana, two texts that chronicle the tumultuous political landscape in the Venezuela of recent years. Barrera will be answering questions about his non-fiction work during this casual conversation with faculty and students.

Lunch with LAGO featuring a conversation with three recent PhD graduates

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Join the Latin Americanist Graduate Organization (LAGO) on Friday, 11/22 at 12pm for the latest installment of their bi-weekly lunch series. Three recent PhD graduates will be discussing their professional/academic trajectories:

Stefanie Israel de Souza, CIPR Post-doctoral Fellow (https://stonecenter.tulane.edu/articles/detail/2931/Stefanie-Israel-de-Souza)

Hannah Palmer, Program Manager for Academic Programs at the Stone Center (https://stonecenter.tulane.edu/articles/detail/2922/Hannah-Palmer)

Rachel Stein, Research and Instruction Librarian at the Latin American Library (https://stonecenter.tulane.edu/articles/detail/2760/Rachel-Stein-)

The Labyrinth will be serving mini paninis, savory spreads and dips, desserts (including tres leches cake) and fresh juices. Please come hungry!