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

BLOG AUTHORS & RECENT POSTS

LATEST SITE UPDATES

EVENTS

NEWS

RESOURCES

PEOPLE

All Events

Upcoming Events

Interpretation and Literary Agency - A talk by Héctor Hoyos

View Full Event Description

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese presents a talk by Dr. Héctor Hoyos, Assistant Professor of Latin American literature and culture at Stanford University, entitled “Interpretation and Literary Agency” on January 12th at 4:30 PM. Dr. Hoyos’s research areas include visual culture and critical theory, as well as comparative and philosophical approaches to literature. His teaching covers various periods and subregions, with an emphasis on contemporary fiction and literary theory.

Talk Abstract:
Taking César Aira’s El té de Dios (2010) as a starting point, in this talk Héctor Hoyos makes a materialist defense of close reading. Less than methodology and more than unreflective praxis, non-instrumental engagement with literariness can repair fractures between nature and culture, human and nonhuman. Hoyos builds on Aira’s estrangement of tales of origin –creation, evolution, the Big Bang– to demonstrate how certain interpretative practices extend the eventfulness of literature and allow us to re-think the role of fiction within the new materialist turn.

For more information, please contact Camilo Malagon (cmalagon@tulane.edu).

Hegemony Versus Globalization: Protest, Human Rights and the Struggle for Power in Post-Chávez Venezuela

View Full Event Description

The Sociology Department is pleased to present a talk by Dr. David Smilde, the Charles E and Leo M Favrot Professor of Sociology at Tulane University, and Jennifer Triplett, who holds a MA from the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. The talk ““Hegemony vs. Globalization: Protest, Human Rights and the Struggle for Power in Post-Chávez Venezuela,” will be held on Friday, February 12th, at 3:30 PM.

"Origins" Art Exhibit

View Full Event Description

The Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans is pleased to present the art exhibit, “Origins” by Mexican artist Ganthaus. There will be an opening reception on February 18th beginning at 6 PM.

For more information please visit the exhibit website.

Ancient Maya Women: K-16 Educator Workshop

View Full Event Description

LARC, in conjunction with the Annual Tulane Maya Symposium and the New Orleans Museum of Art, is hosting a teacher workshop on the ancient Maya. The workshop will introduce information on women in the ancient Maya world as well as providing activities to introduce into the classroom.

REGISTER HERE.

FRIDAY MARCH 4, 2016

8:30 – 8:45 am
Welcome
Tracy Kennan, New Orleans Museum of Art; Denise Woltering Vargas, Tulane University; Marcello Canuto, Tulane University

8:45 – 9:30 am
Introduction to the Maya
Evan Parker, Tulane University

9:30 – 10:30 am
Introductory Glyph Workshop
David Chatelain, Tulane University; Mary Kate Kelly, Tulane University; Luke Auld-Thomas, Tulane University

10:30 – 11:15 am
Teaching the Maya in the Classroom
Sarah Donovan, DePaul University

11:15 am – 12:00 pm
Tour of the Art of the Americas Exhibit & Other K-12 Resources
Marc Zender, Tulane University; Paul Tarver, New Orleans Museum of Art; Tracy Kennan, New Orleans Museum of Art

LUNCH
Lunch is included in registration.

1:15 – 2:15 pm
Maya Women and Food Preparation: from ancient to modern times
Traci Ardren, University of Miami

2:15 – 2:45 pm
Curriculum Breakout
Sarah Donovan, DePaul University; Denise Woltering Vargas, Tulane University; Tracy Kennan, New Orleans Museum of Art; Rachel Horowitz, Tulane University

2:45 – 3:00 pm
Evaluation

REGISTER HERE.

13th Annual Tulane Maya Symposium "Ixiktaak: Ancient Maya Women"

View Full Event Description

The Middle American Research Institute, in conjunction with Far Horizons, the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, The Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans, and the New Orleans Museum of Art, is proud to present the Thirteenth Annual Tulane Maya Symposium and Workshop. This year’s symposium, titled “Ixiktaak: Ancient Maya Women,” will focus on the significance of women in ancient Maya society. The invited scholars will explore this topic from different disciplinary perspectives, including archaeology, iconography, physical anthropology, and epigraphy to illuminate the names, roles, lives, accomplishments, and practices of women in ancient Maya society. Recent research in the Maya area has dramatically enhanced our understanding of gender roles in ancient Maya society particularly women’s daily lives, their role in power relations and regional politics, their relevance to and symbolic meaning within religion and ritual, and the economics of gender. New texts, new analytical techniques, and new discoveries discussed in these presentations will help us appreciate how complex and dynamic Classic Maya notions of gender were.

The keynote address will be given by Dr. Mary Miller of Yale University who will speak about her recent research on Jaina figurines.

To register for Friday – Sunday’s program, please REGISTER HERE.

For more information, visit the symposium homepage.

THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 2016
Consulate of Mexico 901 Convention Center Blvd.

6:00 – 8:00 PM
Art Exhibit Opening Reception
Free and open to the public.

********************

FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2016
New Orleans Museum of Art 1 Diboll Circle, City Park

8:30 – 3:00 PM
Professional Development Workshop for K-16 Educators

9:15 – 3:00 PM
Introductory Glyph Workshop

6:00 – 7:15 PM
KeynoteThe Women of Maya Figurines: A Mystery Within and Without
Mary Miller

********************

SATURDAY, MARCH 5, 2016
Freeman Auditorium, Woldenberg Art Center, Tulane University

8:00 – 5:00 PM
Symposium

********************

SUNDAY, MARCH 6, 2016
Tulane University, Dinwiddie Hall

9:00 – 12:00 PM
Hieroglyphic Forum: New Texts from La Corona
Marc Zender, David Stuart, Simon Martin

10:30 – 12:00 PM
Representations of Women in the Books of Chilam Balam
Amy George-Hirons

2:00 – 5:00 pm
Afternoon Workshops

For more information or to register, visit the symposium homepage.

Tropical Exposures: Photography, Film, and Visual Culture in a Caribbean Frame

View Full Event Description

Tropical Exposures: Photography, Film, and Visual Culture in a Caribbean Frame
March 10-12, 2016
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA

We offer our conference as a forum in which to peruse and absorb the visual turn in contemporary inquiry from the unique vantage points of the Caribbean, circum-Caribbean and Caribbean diasporas. We conceive the tropical exposure as a frame for representing the region’s strengths and vulnerabilities and for questioning the interaction of Antillean sensibilities with a plethora of images and mediascapes. Our invited keynote speakers include photographer Virginia Beahan and artist Francisco Crespo, whose work appears on this page.

Tropical Exposures welcomes proposals for papers that address any facet of Caribbean visual representation in photography, film, art, popular culture, and other media, as well as the interaction of word and image more generally. Scholars are also encouraged to present proposals that consider social and cultural shifts toward the increasing intermediality of representation in the Caribbean frame.

Conference Updates:
January 14, 2016: To view the panel lineups and conference schedule, please click here.

Registration Information
Regular Registration (begins Jan. 20):

  • $175 Faculty
  • $115 Graduate Students and Independent Scholars

Please click here to access the conference registration form, or click the “Register Online” button on the bottom or top of this page.

Conference Hotel Information
The Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute has arranged a group block and discounted rate at the Hampton Inn New Orleans Garden District. We have reserved a block of rooms for March 9 – March 12, 2016. The special room rate of $169.00/night will be available until February 8, 2016 or until the group block is sold out, whichever comes first. The Hampton Inn Garden District hotel offers a free hot breakfast, free high speed internet in every room, and free on-site parking.

To make your reservations online, please click here to access the hotel reservation page and book your stay by February 8th.
You may also book your room by phone by calling 504-899-9990. The group code for the special rate is “CSI”; please mention this when making reservations by phone.
For hotel address and other information, please visit the Hampton Inn hotel’s website

Conference events will take place on Tulane’s uptown campus at the Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC), 201 Boggs, New Orleans, LA 70118. Transportation from the conference hotel to Tulane’s uptown campus will be provided. We will be putting together a brief guide to the city of New Orleans for quick reference about local transportation, restaurants, etc. for your convenience.