Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

"Saludos desde San Jose!" written by Jack Mace

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

Jack’s Blog:

Saludos desde San Jose! Greetings!

Hello. I am writing this blog entry from my dorm room, room 205, which sits on the top floor of a large, hotel-like building on the joint Tulane â’‘¬‘€œ CIAPA campus in San Jose, Costa Rica. This building is where us Tulane students spend a lot of our time: studying for our various classes, eating, and sleeping, in that order of importance. The time as of now is 2:30 pm, on a Tuesday, October 7. Around me sits piles of essays and sketches strewn across my desk, and in front of me, pinned to a drawing board, is the schedule of my classes for the Fall 2012 Semester, which I double-check constantly out of forgetfulness. If I were to turn around and look out my open door, I would see the miniature rainforest that covers the CIAPA campus, and farther on, a towering golden â’‘¬Å“Mâ’‘¬Â, for McDonaldâ’‘¬’“¢s, back-dropped by the rolling, tropical-green hills and mountains that surround the city of San Jose. As I write this, the city is alive with a heavy rain, and thunder rumbles fiercely overhead, as it does almost every afternoon in this place. My name is Jack, and Iâ’‘¬’“¢m one of the students studying at CIAPA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

As a student here at CIAPA, there is much and more to do, and almost everything we do is tied together with our studies. During the week my five other peers and I go about our daily business: going to class, taking the bus into San Jose, making our way to the local gym of which we have been granted membership, personal trainers, and thumb-print recognition access. Fellow gym members, most of them young, will often greet us with a â’‘¬Å“pura vidaâ’‘¬Â, or â’‘¬Å“pure lifeâ’‘¬Â, a saying that Ticos (Costa Ricans) are fond of as both greetings and farewells.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, we visit two respective high schools in San Jose and work with English classes there. The last time we visited, we played the Spanish version of Scrabble with the class, and the next two hours saw countless conversations in Spanglish about life in general. The group that connects us with these schools is called the Youth Action Foundation, and it works with high schools all over Costa Rica to improve the quality of education for kids in primary and secondary school.
The rest of the week is spent studying and reading for our busy class schedule, which includes topics like Comparative Politics, Central American Government, and Latin American Art History. All of the classes are humanities, and I miss science, but they blend into such a cohesive study of Latin America â’‘¬‘€œ specifically Central America â’‘¬‘€œ that I often find myself forgetting which class Iâ’‘¬’“¢m studying for. Weekends are usually a time to break free from the weekâ’‘¬’“¢s routine and travel around the area, but occasionally we head out on organized, group weekend trips. So far these trips have led us to the cloud forests of Monteverde, white-water rafting in the mountains of Rara Avis, and, in the future, to the Caribbean beaches of the city of Limon. Again, I canâ’‘¬’“¢t express enough the beauty of this place.

Over the course of my stay here, Iâ’‘¬’“¢ve made attempts to define the identity of this place called â’‘¬Å“Rich Coastâ’‘¬Â, and I have found it to be very difficult to pinpoint. Instead, flashes of inspiration will come to me in certain moments, much like the silent flashes of lightning that, late in the night, briefly illuminate the dark masses of mountains that surround CIAPA. I once watched out of a bus window as a series of young people marched on the street, banging unceremoniously and without rhythm on drums; this was Costa Rica. On one of our many weekend trips as a group, we visited the cloud forest of Monteverde, and were able to walk amidst and listen to the forest come alive with rain in the night; this was also Costa Rica. Costa Ricaâ’‘¬’“¢s identity is hard to define, but Iâ’‘¬’“¢ve come to the conclusion that Costa Rica is a proud country: proud of its natural splendor, proud of its history as one of the leading countries in Central America in political and economic stability, and proud of its happy people. At the same time, globalization and foreign influence have done their deeds, and Costa Ricaâ’‘¬’“¢s identity is now attempting to cope with things like a beautiful, unique tropical bird perched on a giant, humming McDonaldâ’‘¬’“¢s arch. Unfortunately that is only one of many examples of identity crisis. But this brings me to the National Theater.

When the United States was undergoing Industrialization, there began a large movement of appreciating and in turn depicting the vast, previously untouched nature of North America that was now being taken for granted. The United States has its Hudson River Painters, and Costa Rica has the National Theater in San Jose.

While it may be a bit of an overstatement to compare these two countries in terms of rejuvenating the appreciation for the national environment, it is certainly undeniable that both played, and are playing a part in the conservation of national identity when it comes to natural splendor. The National Theater is a huge building at the center of the Plaza of Culture in San Jose, which in turn is in the center of the city. The Plaza was originally built around the Theater, which was one of the first buildings to arise in the area, tall and majestic, dwarfing the one-story colonial homes it stood amidst at the turn of the 20th century. Now it stands as a cultural center for both locals and tourists. On the two occasions Iâ’‘¬’“¢ve been to the theater (both of which played notable substitutions for our actual Tulane Interdisciplinary class), the shows seemed to emanate an irresistible love affair between Costa Rica and its people.
The first show was a performance by the Jazz pianist Chucho Valdez and his band, the Afro-Cuban Messengers. The performance was impossible to describe with words, but I can say that it gave me a newfound appreciation for Latin American music. When I got back to CIAPA I immediately downloaded all of Valdezâ’‘¬’“¢ music from â’‘¬Å“iTunesâ’‘¬Â. The performance was also unique in that involved the crowd pretty vehemently. Towards the end the band had everyone in the theater dancing, singing, and clapping. I canâ’‘¬’“¢t say for sure that this is a Costa Rican quality, but I can say that I would rarely see that in Seattle, Washington (where Iâ’‘¬’“¢m from).

The second performance celebrated an anniversary of the Theater, and involved three separate acts of dance. Throughout the show we saw naked women and men running around attempting not to conform to society; a man and a woman falling in and out of love with fiery Latin flare; and a slow, ritualistic dance with big jungle cats, lots of water, and artificial steam and bird noises. All of these acts shared the same quality of attempting to celebrate Costa Rican culture, and by the end, it had succeeded at least with me. Of course, I acknowledge that these performances are filtered from real experiences with these aspects of Costa Rican culture, but when it was over I at least had the feeling that I knew Costa Rica a little better.

In conclusion, come to Costa Rica, but donâ’‘¬’“¢t go to college here â’‘¬‘€œ there are too many distractions. While you are here, please visit the National Theater.

Pura vida,

Jack Mace

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.