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

    Administrative Assistant Professor - Department of Global Education

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Before Structuralism and Dependency: What did Latin America contribute to International Political Economy?

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Eric Helleiner, Profeesor and Faculty of Arts Chair in International Political Economy at the University of Waterloo, presents a talk titled “Before Structuralism and Dependency: What did Latin America contribute to International Political Economy?” on Friday, September 30 at 1:30 PM.

Dr. Helleiner holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and researches international political economy, international money and finance, North-South economic relations, and the history of political economy. He is the author of over 100 journal articles and book chapters.

The talk is sponsored by the Tulane Political Science Department and the Murphy Institute

Assessing equitable care among Indigenous and Afrodescendant women in Latin America

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The Department of Anthropology and Tulane Anthropology Student Association (TASA) present a lecture by Dr. Arachu Castro, the Samuel Z. Stone Chair of Public Health in Latin America in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Castro will present a lecture titled “Assessing equitable care among Indigenous and Afrodescendant women in Latin America” on Friday September 30, 2016 at 4:00 PM in Dinwiddie Hall 103.

Talk Abstract:
Health provider discrimination against Indigenous and Afrodescendant women is a primary barrier to quality health care access in Latin America. Discrimination is driven by biases against ethnic minority populations, women, and the poor in general. Discriminatory practices can manifest as patient-blaming, purposeful neglect, verbal or physical abuse, disregard for traditional beliefs, and the non-use of Indigenous languages for patient communication. These obstacles prevent delivery of appropriate and timely clinical care, and also produce fear of shame, abuse, or ineffective treatment, which, in addition to financial barriers, deter women from seeking care.

A light reception will follow the lecture

MARI Brown Bag: Eugenia Robinson "Utatlan, A Late Postclassic Guatemalan Highland Capital: MARI Collections Research"

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Dr. Eugenia Robinson, Professor of Anthropology at Montgomery College and a Research Affiliate of the Middle American Research Institute, will present a talk “Utatlan, A Late Postclassic Guatemalan Highland Capital: MARI Collections Research” on her recent research about highland Guatemalan sites from the collections of MARI.

For more information and a full list of Brown Bag talks, visit the Brown Bag Website.

Ixcanul Screening and Educator Reception

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The Latin American Resource Center and the Broad Theater are hosting a screening of Ixcanul, an educator reception, and discussion about the film. Ixcanul follows the life of a young Kaqchikel Maya woman as she grapples with problems in the modern world. The film was Guatemala’s entry in the 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Category at the Oscars. The discussion following the film will include a discussion of how to use the film in the classroom.

The event is FREE for educators who REGISTER below. The public may purchase tickets to attend the screening and discussion.

Please be able to show your school ID if requested to confirm educator status

Event Schedule:

4:30 Reception
5:00 Film
6:30 Discussion

Latin American Cinema Series

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In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Stone Center for Latin American Studies is collaborating with The Broad Theater to present the 1st Annual Latin America Cinema Series. The series will showcase a wide variety of shorts and features from Haiti, Cuba, Argentina, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico and Colombia. Titles include such film festival standouts such as THE APOSTATE, Martin Sheen’s latest film THE VESSEL, and IXCANUL, the first Guatemalan film shot in the Kaqchikel Maya language. The series will take place over two days, October 1st and 2nd, at The Broad Theater, 636 North Broad, New Orleans.

This film series is presented in partnership with WWNO and the Cine Institute in Jacqumel, Haiti. All proceeds from the Haitian series will go to Cine Institute.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1

  • 12:30 pm – Haitian Shorts (100 mins.) A selection of Haitian narrative shorts will be screened as part of a partnership with the Cine Institute in Jacqumel, Haiti.
  • 2:45 pm – Tierra y Sombra (97 mins.) Alfonso is an old farmer who has returned home to tend to his son, who is gravely ill. He rediscovers his old house, where the woman who was once his wife still lives, with his daughter-in-law and grandson. The landscape that awaits him resembles a wasteland. Vast sugar cane plantations surround the house, producing perpetual clouds of ash. 17 years after abandoning them, Alfonso tries to fit back in and save his family.
  • 5:00 pm – Ixcanul (100 mins.) On the slopes of an active volcano in Guatemala, a marriage is arranged for 17-year-old Maria by her Kaqchikel parents. “Ixcanul” provides a window into a culture that we rarely see. Film will be presented with a special introduction by Professor Judith Maxwell and Kaqchikel Maya language Scholar, Ixnal Cuma Chávez. The Latin American Resource Center- welcomes all educators to a special reception preceding the screening. Reception is free with registration. For more information about this special reception, please register here.
  • 7:10 pm – The Vessel (110 mins.) Ten years after a tidal wave destroys a small-town elementary school with all the children inside, a young man builds a mysterious structure out of the school’s remains, setting the town aflame with passions long forgotten.
  • 9:15 pm – Embrace of the Serpent (133 mins.) The story of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people, and two scientists who work together over the course of 40 years to search the Amazon for a sacred healing plant.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2016

  • 4:30 pm Unfinished Spaces (86 mins.) Cuba’s ambitious National Art Schools project, designed by three young artists in the wake of Castro’s Revolution, is neglected, nearly forgotten, then ultimately rediscovered as a visionary architectural masterpiece. In 1961, three young, visionary architects were commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to create Cuba’s National Art Schools on the grounds of a former golf course in Havana, Cuba. Construction of their radical designs began immediately and the school’s first classes soon followed. Dancers, musicians and artists from all over the country reveled in the beauty of the schools, but as the dream of the Revolution quickly became a reality, construction was abruptly halted and the architects and their designs were deemed irrelevant in the prevailing political climate. Forty years later the schools are in use, but remain unfinished and decaying. Castro has invited the exiled architects back to finish their unrealized dream. Unfinished Spaces features intimate footage of Fidel Castro, showing his devotion to creating a worldwide showcase for art, and it also documents the struggle and passion of three revolutionary artists.
  • 9:00 pm The Apostate (80 mins.) A man at a crossroads in his life (Alvaro Ogalla) wishes to fully excommunicate himself from the Catholic Church, but is faced with baffling bureaucracy from his decision in this absurd comedy-drama from director Federico Veiroj.

More information can be found at thebroadtheater.com, in the Events section. Tickets for the series will go on sale Friday, September 23rd. Tickets for each screening will be $10 with a two-day pass available for $40. For more information please contact the theater at mgmt@thebroadtheater.com or 504-218-1008.

Day of the Dead Teacher Workshop at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

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In collaboration with the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Stone Center presents the annual K-12 teacher workshop exploring the cultural and artistic elements of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. All participants will receive light refreshments, 2 free tickets to Ogden After Hours, teaching materials and CEUs. The workshop will focus on the Ogden Museum’s altar exhibition, celebrating the life Allen Toussaint, on view from Oct. 4 – Nov. 8. The event will discuss altar traditions and how to integrate altars into the classroom.

Check out the event website for resources and other information about teaching Day of the Dead.

Workshop Schedule

5:30 – 5:45
Welcome and Introduction
Denise Woltering Vargas, Tulane University
Suzanna Ritz, Ogden Museum of Southern Art

5:45-6:00
Day of the Dead Altars: Allen Toussaint
Cynthia Ramirez, Southern University of New Orleans

6:00 – 6:15
Day of the Dead Altars in the Classroom: the ISL Altar to Benny Andrews
Suzanna Ritz, Ogden Museum of Southern Art

6:15 – 7:00
Hands on Activities for the Classroom: Building Altars and Retablos
Suzanna Ritz, Ogden Museum of Southern Art

7:00 – 7:30
Discussion and Evaluation