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 – 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 “M”, for McDonald’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 I’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 “pura vida”, or “pure life”, 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 – specifically Central America – that I often find myself forgetting which class I’m studying for. Weekends are usually a time to break free from the week’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 can’t express enough the beauty of this place.

Over the course of my stay here, I’ve made attempts to define the identity of this place called “Rich Coast”, 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 Rica’s identity is hard to define, but I’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 Rica’s identity is now attempting to cope with things like a beautiful, unique tropical bird perched on a giant, humming McDonald’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 I’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 Valdez’ music from “iTunes”. 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 can’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 I’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 don’t go to college here – there are too many distractions. While you are here, please visit the National Theater.

Pura vida,

Jack Mace

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Annie Gibson

    Professor of Practice/Director of the Early Experience at CIAPA

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Exploring Immigration and Identity in the K-12 Classroom with Américas Award Books

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Américas Award K-12 Workshop

In celebration of the 2014 Américas Award, CLASP and Teaching for Change are hosting a K-12 teacher workshop “Exploring Immigration and Identity in the K-12 Classroom with Américas Award Books.”

This hands-on workshop will explore issues of immigration and identity using children's literature. The workshop will feature the work of this year's Honorable Mention book, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote by Duncan Tonatiuh and Commended Title Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass by Meg Medina. Both authors will be in attendance to work with teachers on activities and strategies to best engage young readers with the complexity of immigration as it relates to family, education, and identity. Teaching for Change will highlight additional resources to incorporate teaching Social Justice and Human Rights.

All participants will receive breakfast, teaching resources, and a book (a choice of one of the two featured titles, please indicate whether you’d prefer the picture book Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote or the Young Adult title, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass). Participants are also invited to attend the Américas Award Ceremony to be held at the Library of Congress from 3:00 – 5:00 PM. Also, a month-long exhibit of the original artwork from Parrots Over Puerto Rico will be on display at the Young Readers Center in The Library of Congress.

For a workshop schedule and to access resources from the workshop, please visit the workshop website or download the agenda here

The Américas Award is sponsored by CLASP and coordinated by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University. Additional funding is provided by Florida International University, Stanford University, The Ohio State University, University of New Mexico, University of Utah, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Vanderbilt University.

For more information contact Denise Woltering (dwolteri@tulane.edu) (504.865.5164)

Download the printable Flyer.

Geometry, gigantism, and lacquerware, or, the origins of social hierarchy

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The Tulane Anthropology Student Association (TASA) presents a talk by Dr. William Balée, Professor of Anthropology at Tulane University. The talk is entitled: “Geometry, gigantism, and lacquerware, or, the origins of social hierarchy.”

A reception will follow.

For more information contact TASA (tulaneasa@gmail.com)

MARI Brown Bag: Meaghan Peuramaki-Brown "Maya Boomtown Archaeology? Recent and Future Investigations at Alabama, Belize"

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Dr. Meaghan Peuramaki-Brown, a visiting scholar at MARI, will present new information about her research at the site of Alabama in southern Belize in a talk entitled “Maya Boomtown Archaeology? Recent and Future Investigations at Alabama, Belize”

M.A.R.I.‘s Brown Bag talk series is meant to provide a venue for students and faculty focusing on topics related to Mesoamerica to discuss their latest research in an informal and friendly setting. If you are interested in presenting, please email Marcello Canuto (mcanuto@tulane.edu) for more information. For the current speaker list of this talk series, please click here.

Please remember to bring your lunch!

Day of the Dead and the Arts: A Workshop for K-12 Art Educators

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The Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art are sponsoring a K-12 teacher workshop to celebrate Day of the Dead!

The workshop will focus on how to provide students with information about Day of the Dead, Day of the Dead traditions, and celebrating Day of the Dead in the classroom. The workshop will involve hands-on activities, including activities which will translate into the classroom!

All participants will receive light refreshments and teaching materials. One teacher will have the opportunity to use a Day of the Dead altar kit, provided by the Latin American Resource Center. The kit has everything you need to celebrate Day of the Dead in your classroom!

Tentative Schedule:
5:30 – 5:45 PM
Introductory Remarks (Denise Woltering-Vargas, Tulane University; Ellen Balkin, Ogden Museum)

5:45 – 6: 30 PM
Altar Viewing and Discussion (Cynthia Ramirez, Southern University of New Orleans)

6:30 – 7:15 PM
Day of the Dead in the Artist’s Classroom (Denise Tullier-Holly, Southeastern University Lab School)

7:15 – 7:30 PM
Day of the Dead at the Ogden – Activities (Ellen Balkin, Ogden Museum)

Chep Morrison: Reconnecting New Orleans and Latin America

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In Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month the 2nd Thursday Lecture Series at the Louisiana State Museum will present a talk entitled “Chep Morrison: Reconnecting New Orleans and Latin America” by Robert Gray Freeland

Four times mayor of New Orleans, Morrison was probably the best-known US citizen in Latin America in his day. As a Mayor interested in expanding international trade, he created a distinct Latin flavor in his efforts. As Ambassador of the Organization of American States (OAS), Morrison played an important part in the Kennedy Administration implementation of a Good Neighbor policy and the Alliance for Progress.

Celebración Latina

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Join us for our annual family festival as we celebrate 10 years of the festival! Please join us at the zoo to explore and celebrate the rich diversity of Latin America. Celebración Latina at the Zoo's Capital One Stage and Field will offer a true taste of the Latin American culture with live music, children’s activities and authentic Latin cuisine prepared and sold by local restaurants. Local artisans will sell hand made crafts, and local social service, health and education organizations will offer wellness, education and social service information.

Check out pictures from the 2012 and 2013 festivals!

Celebración Latina is presented by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University. Contributing sponsors include Pan-American Life Insurance Group and Jefferson Financial Credit Union.

Celebración Latina is free with Zoo admission. No outside food or beverages please!

For more information please visit the Audubon website.