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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New Orleans con Sabor- Latino Exhibit: A Showcase of Latin Foodways in New Orleans

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The opening for the “New Orleans con Sabor Latino” exhibit will take place Tuesday, May 2 at 6PM at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum on Oretha Castle Haley. The permanent exhibit, produced by Sarah Fouts’ Food, Migration, and Culture course, showcases oral histories conducted by students with chefs and cooks that represent the Latinx foodways in the city. The exhibit also features an interactive station that displays menus from different Latin restaurants in the New Orleans area, a local map of the restaurants, a hemispheric map of the Americas, along with photographs and audio clips produced by the students. The project is supported by the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and the Center for Public Service.

Light refreshments will be served
6-730PM
1504 Oretha Castle Haley
For more information email sfouts@tulane.edu

The Tulane Culture Workshop: Movements and Ethnoracial Rights in Latin America

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Join the Tulane Culture Workshop for a discussion of Movements and Ethnoracial Rights in Latin America with Tianna Paschel, University of California- Berkeley, African American Studies and Sociology.

Workshops function on a different model from lectures. In a workshop the paper is distributed so that people can read the paper beforehand. The author gives only a brief introduction to the article, to contextualize the piece. The workshop itself amounts to an extended Q&A on the piece. In this workshop, we will discuss Dr. Paschel’s ongoing ethnicity-based social movements research in Latin America. The discussion will provide her with feedback and give participants an inside view of the craft of scholarship with one today’s leading thinkers.

For more information click here or email idiaz5@tulane.edu.

"Becoming Black Political Subjects: Movements and Ethno-Racial Rights in Colombia and Brazil"- A talk by Dr. Tianna Paschel

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Dr. Tianna Paschel, professor in the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley, will present on her book “Becoming Black Political Subjects: Movements and Ethno-Racial Rights in Colombia and Brazil” on Wednesday, May 3 from 1-3:30 in the Greenleaf Conference Room. This book examines the shift from colorblind state discourses to the adoption of ethno-racial policies in Colombia and Brazil in the 1990s, as well as the impact this shift has had on political institutions and broader socio-cultural change in these countries. This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research and the Department of Sociology. After the event, at 3:30, Dr. Paschel will workshop her new document “Movements and Ethnoracial Rights in Latin America”.

Marisol Blanco Barrios: Cuban Folkloric Dance Workshop

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The Tekrema Center for Art and Culture presents: Marisol Blanco Barrios: Cuban Folkloric Dance Workshop.

The week-long conference will featuring intensive dance workshops, panel discussions, performances, and exhibits in June. The conference showcases local, national and internationally acclaimed dancers from Louisiana, The Caribbean, and Africa. This year, the conference will launch the book and choreographic work by Greer E. Mendy, Black Dance in Louisiana – Guardian of A Culture.

Tekrema is a cultural arts organization located in New Orleans, Louisiana in the area geographically described and affectionately known as “The Lower 9th Ward”. The mission of Tekrema’s mission is the maintenance, development and perseverance of African and African Diaspora art and culture.

Conference Schedule

  • Tuesday May 2 at 6 PM: Afro-Cuban: The Orichas
  • Wednesday May 3 at 7 PM: Cuban Traditional Ballroom Dance: Cuban Rumba and Son
  • Thursday May 4 at 7 PM: Afro-Cuban: The Orichas
  • Saturday May 6 at 10 AM: Panoramic International Dance: Children’s class

Workshop fee schedule class fee- $10 per class. Tekrema Youth- Free.

La Hora del Cuento: Pebbles Center Bilingual Spring Reading Series

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Celebrate and learn about Latin America with your kids through the Stone Center’s Pebble Center at the Algiers Regional branch of the New Orleans Public Library for bilingual story time.

Second Tuesday of every month at 10:30 AM. All books are read in English and Spanish and readings are followed by an activity based on the book. Past books include Counting Ovejas, Drum Dream Girl, and Mango, Abuela, and Me. Readings are free and open to the public. Recommended ages 0 – 5 and parents!

Story Hour Dates/Themes

March 21 – TRANSPORTATION
The Wheels on the Bus Illustrated by Melanie Williamson and Written by The Amador Family

April 11 – ANIMALS
Los Pollitos by Susie Jaramillo

May 9 – LATIN AMERICAN CHILDREN’S SONGS
Elefantitos by Susie Jaramillo

Call For Papers- Haiti: Paradoxes, Contraditions, Intersections in the Making of a People

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CALL FOR PAPERS: Haitian Studies Association’s 29th Annual Conference

The Haitian Studies Association will hold its 29th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, a site that offers scholars a look at how the “making of the people” occurs outside of the geopolitical spaces associated with a nation-state. Indeed, the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804 forced not only the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, but also the migration of slaves, slave owners, and free blacks and mulattos between the two former French territories. These movements of people led to the creation of new spaces where migrants linked to an emergent Haiti would become part of a new North American dynamic also characterized by inequalities and exclusion.

The Haitian Studies Association seeks a diverse set of scholarly interrogations of these themes from disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. We are especially interested in fully constituted panels, and will prioritize panels that speak directly to our themes and attempt an interdisciplinary dialogue.

Panel and roundtable proposals are to be no longer than 500 words, clearly listing the individual paper titles and authors. Individual paper abstracts should be around 250 words. Presenters are expected to register for the conference in advance to ensure their names are in the program.

Proposals with be accepted until June 1st, 2017. Fore information regarding the conference and guidelines for proposals, click here.