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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Artist Talk: Tania Bruguera

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Pelican Bomb, in partnership with the Newcomb Art Museum and the Cuban & Caribbean Studies Institute at Tulane University, hosts a talk with internationally renowned artist Tania Bruguera at the Freeman Auditorium in Tulane’s Woldenberg Art Center.

For this lecture, Bruguera speaks about her politically motivated practice, including “#YoTambienExijo (I Also Demand),” where she attempted to put a microphone at Revolution Square in Havana in 2014. She had invited people to express their visions for Cuba without censorship, but, before this performance, she was detained and had her passport confiscated by the Cuban government. One of the leading political and performance artists of her generation, Bruguera researches ways in which art can be applied to everyday life. Her long-term projects have been intensive interventions on the institutional structure of collective memory, education, and politics. Continuing her focus on the promise and failure of the Cuban Revolution, Bruguera will open INSTAR, the Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt, in Havana in September 2016. A residency, think tank, and workshop space, INSTAR aims to use performance art as a channel to open avenues for freedom among the general Cuban population.

Recognized as one of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers by “Foreign Policy” magazine and shortlisted for the 2016 #Index100 Freedom of Expression Award, Bruguera is a 2015 Herb Alpert Award winner, a Hugo Boss Prize finalist, a Yale World Fellow, and the first artist in residence in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. In 2013, she was part of the team creating the first document on artistic freedom and cultural rights with the United Nation’s Human Rights Council. Her work has been exhibited at Documenta, the Venice Biennale, the Tate Modern in London, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, among others. She lives and works between New York and Havana.

Her work “The Francis Effect” is currently on view in New Orleans as part of “False Flags,” a group exhibition curated by Noah Simblist, at Pelican Bomb Gallery X (1612 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard). First presented in 2014 at the Guggenheim, the performance exists in the guise of a political campaign that requests the Pope grant Vatican citizenship to all immigrants and refugees around the world. Visitors can add their voice to Bruguera’s petition before and after the artist talk and at “False Flags,” on view through May 29.

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La Hora del Cuento: Bilingual Story Time at the Pebbles Center Uptown

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Join the Pebbles Center at the Children’s Resource Center branch of the New Orleans Public Library for bilingual story time.

Held the second Tuesday of every month at 4:30 PM, we will read a book and have a craft based on the book. Past books include Funny Bones, Maria had a Little Llama, and Martín de Porres, the Rose in the Desert.

Story Hour Books

January 11
Counting Ovejas by Sarah Weeks

March 15
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle; Illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Recipient of the 2016 Pura Belpre Illustrator Award

April 12
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina; Illustrated by Angela Dominguez

April 26
SPECIAL PROGRAM PART OF A SERIES OF EVENTS CELEBRATING DIA
Salsa by Jorge Argueta and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh AND Guacamole by Jorge Argueta and illustrated by Margarita Sada
Come on out and enjoy some delicious salsa, guacamole and music.

May 10
Maya’s Blanket: La Manta de Maya by Monica Brown; Illustrated by David Diaz

A night of Argentinian food and culture with Chef Adolfo Garcia

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Delgado Community College Culinary Arts and Tulane Stone Center for Latin American Studies invite you to a night of Argentinian food and culture with Chef Adolfo Garcia. Cooking Demonstration and Tasting.

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Empanadas Argentinas (Seasoned beef hand pies)
Noqul (Handmade potato dumplings with Pancetta cream and peas)
Vaclo a la parllla con chlmlchurrl (Grilled flap steak with herb sauce)
Ensalada Rusa (Potato salad “a la russe”)

$45 per person | Register here at http://caribbeanculinary.eventbrite.com
More Information | (504) 810-1020
The Stone Center is a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center on Latin America.

Click here for the event flyer.

Art Exhibit "Abrazada a lo efímero"

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The Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans is hosting an art exhibit “Abrazada a lo efímero” by Mexican poet and painter Sofía Rodriguez Fernandez.

The exhibit will run from April 14 to May 14 and an opening reception will be held at 6 PM on April 14th.

For more information visit the event webpage.

John Edward Heaton's Guatemala: A Photographic Exhibit

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John Edward Heaton’s Guatemala, a photographic exhibit will be on display at The Latin American Library, Tulane University, March 17-May 27.
We are honored to be the first venue in North America to show this exhibit, which debuted in the fall of 2015 in Paris at the Maison Européene de la Photographie, Paris’ main museum for photography.
John Edward Heaton’s work documents the fascinating worlds of Guatemala. He has spent 35 years immersed as aphotographer, environmentalist, visual anthropologist, cultural entrepreneur, and curious witness to this Central American nation, among the most historically rich and complex nations of Latin America. Occupying the space between historical documentary and fine art, Heaton’s stunning photographs capture the ironies and poignancy of Guatemala and its people with a penetrating gaze that is nonetheless thoroughly engaged, sympathetic and not without a good dose of humor. The Latin American Library was one of the first to collect Heaton’s published work in 2011. Recognizing and acquiring historically important publications in a timely way allows us to bring to the Tulane campus exhibitions like Heaton’s that usually tour only at large museums.

Somos Nós: Diverse Brazil, Brazilian Culture and Language for the K-16 Classroom

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Photo taken by Megan Oleson, 2014.

LARC, along with Vanderbilt and the University of Georgia, is sponsoring a workshop on Brazilian culture and teaching Portuguese. K-16 educators of any discipline and grade-level are welcome to apply to attend this 5 day institute. Throughout the week, educators will work to develop interdisciplinary curricula, which they can bring back to their schools to teach and share with colleagues. This program is sponsored by Vanderbilt University, Tulane University and the University of Georgia through a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource grant.

Please visit the registration page to register and for more information. Also, check out these photos from last year’s workshop held in New Orleans.