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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Bate Papo! Primavera 2020--NOW ONLINE!

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Bate Papo will now be held virtually! Join the conversation!

A weekly hour of Portuguese conversation and tasty treats hosted by Prof. Megwen Loveless. All levels are welcome! Meetings take place on Fridays at different hours and locations. See the full schedule below:

January 17th, 11 AM, LBC Pocket Park
Treat: Suco de maracuja

January 24th, 3 PM, Boot
Treat: Suco de caju

January 31st, 4PM, Cafe Carmo (527 Julia St.)
Treat: Suco de caja

February 7th, 11 AM, LBC Pocket Park
Treat: Agua de coco

February 14th, 11 AM, LBC Mezzanine
Treat: Guarana

February 21st, 12PM, PJs Willow
Treat: Cha de maracuja

February 28th, 2PM, Sharp Residence Hall
Treat: Cafe brasiliero

March 6th, 9:30 AM, LBC Mezzanine
Treat: Cha matte

March 13th, 1 PM, LBC Pocket Park
Treat: Suco de goiaba

March 20th, 3 PM, Greenbaum House
Treat: Limonada a brasiliera

March 27th, 12 PM, LBC Mezzanine
Treat: Batido de abacate

April 3rd, 11 AM, LBC Pocket Park
Treat: Suco de acai

April 17th, 1 PM, LBC Pocket Park
Treat: Caldo de cana

April 24th, 2 PM, Boot
Treat: Groselha

Teaching Aztec History through Art: Online K-12 Webinar

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Join us for the final webinar in the series on Ancient Civilizations. 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.

Please email dwolteri@tulane.edu for more information.

Co-sponsored by S.S.NOLA.

Pebbles Center Launches Virtual La hora del cuento/Story Time

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Join us every Thursday at 3 PM CST for a live reading of books in Spanish from the Pebbles collection. Books from this collection share stories of Latin America, the Caribbean and the Latinx community in the U.S. The Pebbles collection is a collaborative between Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the New Orleans Public Library. Author and educator, Andrea Olatunji shares the latest top Spanish language picture books. Originally scheduled to share her work at the Tulane Book Festival (cancelled due to COVID-19), she is now jumping online to help young readers explore Latin America in Spanish from home. Check out her work www.cuentacuento.com to learn more.

Make sure to ‘like’ The Pebbles Center on Facebook to receive updates. This program takes place live on this Facebook page.

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
Aztec Mexican Art and Culture
Participants in this workshop will explore the art and culture of the Aztec community.