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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Upcoming Events

Art Exhibit "Dualities"

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The Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans presents the art exhibition "DUALITIES " by Mexican artist Juan Pablo Hurtado from May 21st to June 15th, 2015. An opening reception will be held on May 28th at 6:00 pm.

Heroes of Brazil Story Hour and Capoeira Demonstration

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The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Pebbles Center Westbank, based at the Algiers Regional Library, are sponsoring a story time and Capoeira Demonstration on June 17th. The NOPL summer reading program theme is heroes, so the storytime will discuss heroes of Brazil.

The program is free and open to the public. Please join us to celebrate heroes and learn about Capoeira!

Explore Brazil in the K-12 Classroom: Summer 2015 Teacher Institute

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The Latin American Resource Center, the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University, and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute and the Portuguese Flagship Program at the University of Georgia are presenting a K-12 teacher workshop exploring Brazil in the classroom. The workshop will take place on the Tulane University Uptown Campus.

K-12 educators of any discipline and grade-level are welcome to apply to attend this 5 day institute. The focus of the institute is on the language, culture, and performance of Brazil. The workshop will include exposure to the Portuguese language, discussions with scholars of Brazilian culture and performance, viewings of Brazilian films, and performances by Brazilian groups. Throughout the week, educators will work to develop interdisciplinary curricula, which they can bring back to their schools to teach and share with colleagues. There is a specialized track to this institute in order to better support participants. There is a Portuguese Language track which consists of intensive morning language sessions for those interested in receiving a crash course in basic Portuguese. This track is open to participants with Spanish language background and little to no Portuguese training. While this track is meeting every morning, sessions for those interested in cultures of Brazil will take place. Please make sure to identify if you would like to be in the language track in your application form at the bottom of this page.

Registration Information
Participants have the option of registering under three affordable rates:

  • Basic Registration – $50 [includes all materials, parking permit for 5 days, internet access and registration to entire program with no lodging or meals.]
  • Full Registration – $250 [includes all above plus includes lodging (with linens) in a Tulane residence hall 4 nights, with 2 meals a day, and access to Tulane Reilly Fitness Center.]
  • Deluxe Registration – $300 [includes everything above plus guarantees a single room in the residence hall.]

The 2015 Summer K-12 Teacher Institute, Somos Nós: Teaching Afro-Brazilian Identity is a 20-hour program designed for K-12 teachers, librarians, or administrative staff. K-12 educators will benefit from this timely, interactive program on one of the world's strongest and most influential economies in the world, Brazil. The program is sponsored by Tulane University, the University of Georgia, and Vanderbilt University through a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center grant.

A detailed schedule will be posted shortly. For more information visit the institute webpage

For more information, please contact Denise Woltering Vargas at 504-862-3143 or dwolteri@tulane.edu

Summer K-12 Teacher Institute in Cuba

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Teaching Cuban Culture and Society: A Summer K-12 Teacher Institute in Cuba
Havana, Cuba | June 20 – July 4, 2015

The Application Deadline has passed.

The Stone Center for Latin American Studies is offering a unique summer study abroad program for K-12 teachers in Havana, Cuba in 2015. This two-week program provides the unique opportunity to work on developing lesson plans while exploring the sights and sounds of a nation and people that remain obscured behind political rhetoric and misinformation. Recent economic changes on the island have provoked a series of social and cultural transformations that have left Cubans and the entire world wondering what could be next for the island and the Revolution. Don't miss the chance to witness some of these challenges and triumphs firsthand and get the opportunity to bring your experience back to your students in the classroom.

PLEASE VIEW THE WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO APPLY.

ITINERARY – 15 DAYS

  • Day 1 – U.S./HAVANA, CUBA
    Depart from Tampa, FL, Upon arrival, enjoy dinner and a welcome reception followed by an informal walk and people watching on the Malecón.
  • Day 2 – HAVANA
    Havana Vieja Tour with local preservation experts to discuss in depth the history of local landmarks, historical preservation efforts, and future plans. Visit "Arte Corte" – a barber shop and hair-dressing school in the Santo Angel neighborhood developed to promote skills in the community and support the local economy – and meet with local community leaders., students and elderly folks at the community center Visit the Callejón de Hamel for rumba music and meet with Centro Habana residents. Presentation on AfroCuban dance with musical expert Cari Diez; opportunity to interact with the musicians and staff.
  • Day 3 – HAVANA
    Lecture with Professor Alfredo Prieto on "Cuba Since the Special Period." Curriculum development workshop. Visit the Cuba Council of Churches to meet local people and participate in a seminar about the organization's work in the areas of youth, agriculture, social welfare, and international communications.
  • Day 4 – HAVANA
    Walking tour of Calle Obispo in the morning with Professor Rafael Hernández. Meet the instructors and students of La Colmenita, an after-school program that uses song and dance performance as a social development tool.
  • Day 5 – HAVANA
    Presentation by Professor Isabel Rigol on "Current Challenges Facing Havana's Effort to Preserve its Architecture and Heritage." Visit to the Escuelas Nacional de Arte and meet with students and faculty. Evening walk and visit to the Cañonazo at the Morro.
  • Day 6 – VINALES
    Day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Viñales for landscape and village exploration. Explore the mountainous magotes and visit and meet local tobacco farmers working in their fields and storehouses. At the Casa del Veguero we'll have an introduction to tobacco farming and tobacco production. Visit with locals in the town of Viñales; lunch will be a community event shared with local families, followed by a visit to a children's art center.
  • Day 7 – ALAMAR
    Visit to an Organipónico (urban agrarian farm) in Alamar to explore sustainable farming in Cuba and learn about Cuban cuisine from local gardeners and Noel Pina, the manager of the garden. After lunch explore the community project Muraleando, where local artists have been changing a downtrodden neighborhood into a living work of art.
  • Day 8 – HAVANA/JAIMANITAS
    Visit to Cementerio Colón and interact with the dozens of pilgrims who line up daily at the tomb of Amelia Goyri, said to grant miracles. Continue on to the Plaza de la Revolución. Lunch and afternoon visit to workshop of ceramic artist, José Fuster, who has turned his neighborhood into a unique, whimsical work of public art. Curriculum development in the evening.
  • Day 9 – SANTA CLARA, TRINIDAD
    Travel to Trinidad via Santa Clara, a town founded by 175 people on July 15, 1689. It is the site of the last battle in the Cuban Revolution in 1958. Visit to the Che Mausoleum in Santa Clara. Also visit the historic sugar plantation of Manaca Iznaga before arriving in Trinidad.
  • Day 10 – TRINIDAD
    Explore this UNESCO World Heritage site, founded on December 23, 1514 by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar. Trinidad was a central piece of Cuba's sugar-based economy. Guided city tour with the city historian. Visit the Trinidad library to learn about the importance of libraries and debate questions of intellectual freedom with the staff. Meet with local entrepreneur David Alamar, owner of a private paladar (Davimart) to discuss cuentaproprismo in Cuba.
  • Day 11 – CIENFUEGOS
    We will head to Cienfuegos, a town known for its architectural beauty which reveals its French colonial roots. Visit the Beny More School of Art that trains students in the visual and musical arts and is one of the top ten middle-level art schools in Cuba.
  • Day 12 – HAVANA
    We will hear from children's book author Olga Marta Pérez about the children's/ youth Literacy Scene in Cuba today. In the afternoon, we will visit the Cuban Collection of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes accompanied by a curator.
  • Day 13 – PLAYA GIRON (Site of Bay of Pigs), Ciénega de Zapata, Playa Larga
    Day excursion to the historic site of the Bay of Pigs, one of the landing sites for the 1961 US-backed invasion. Visit the Finca Fiesta Campesina farm, the Playa Girón museum, the Parque Ciénaga de Zapata, the Laguna del Tesoro, and the Taino Indian village.
  • Day 14 – HAVANA
    Wrap-up curriculum workshop followed by a free afternoon ending in a celebratory dinner.
  • Day 15 – HAVANA/U.S.
    Morning departure for the U.S.

For questions, contact Denise Woltering Vargas at 504.862.3143, or at crcrts@tulane.edu. Visit the Summer 2015 Institute webpage.

REPAL Second Annual Conference

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The second annual meeting of REPAL (Red para el Estudio de la Economía Política de América Latina) will be held July 7-8, 2015 in Montevideo, Uruguay, hosted by the The Department of Social and Political Sciences at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay (UCU, Montevideo).

The conference discusses important puzzles and problems, both theoretical and practical, in the political economy of Latin America. Papers, and presentations are presented in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.

The conference is sponsored by CIPR. For more information visit the REPAL website.

Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas Exhibit

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MEXICO IN NEW ORLEANS: A Tale of Two Americas
May 5 through August 30, 2015
Opening reception on Cinco de Mayo (Tuesday, May 5)

From May 5 through August 30, 2015, the LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge, LA will present Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas. The exhibition explores the artistic exchange between Louisiana and Mexico from the 1920s through 1950s, a period of vibrant cultural and artistic connections between the two regions. The exhibition tells the story of a decades-long dialogue between Mexican and Louisianan artists that critically shaped the art of both countries, resulting in artistic affinities that continue to connect Louisiana and Mexico today.

During the 1920s and 1930s, a series of celebrated Mexican art exhibitions brought the art and culture of modern Mexico to Louisiana. By 1928, the New Orleans Times-Picayune had proclaimed Mexican artist Diego Rivera "the greatest painter on the North American continent," and encouraged Louisiana artists to take counsel from modern Mexican art. In 1930, a critic for the Times-Picayune urged Louisiana artists to turn their gaze from the art of Europe and towards the art of Mexico, writing that Mexican art was "more nearly related to us emotionally" than European art.

By the late 1920s, Louisianan artists like William Spratling, Caroline Durieux, Alberta Kinsey, and Conrad A. Albrizio began travelling to Mexico to learn from Mexican artists like Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Ruffino Tamayo, and Carlos Orozco Romero. These artists became friends, colleagues, and frequent collaborators, organizing exhibitions in both Mexico City and New Orleans that celebrated their artistic alliance. Diego Rivera's portrait of Louisiana printmaker Caroline Durieux, for example, was shown at least three times in exhibitions at the Belles Arts in Mexico City, and also appeared at the New Orleans Arts and Crafts Club, paired with the work of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. By the early 1930s, the strength of this artistic interaction
between Mexico and Louisiana caused a writer for The New Orleanian to characterize Louisianan art as having a "distinct Mexican tinge." By 1933, the Times-Picayune cited an undeniably "strong Mexican trend" in Louisiana art.

Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas is the first major museum exhibition to explore this captivating international cultural exchange. features more than 80 works by both Mexican and Louisianan artists who were part of this captivating international cultural exchange and will be accompanied by a richly illustrated bilingual exhibition catalogue designed by the LSU School of Art. The exhibition features artwork drawn from the LSU Museum of Art's collection of works by Diego Rivera and Caroline Durieux, as well as artworks by other prominent artists like David Alfaro Siqueiros, Boyd Cruise, and Elizabeth Catlett borrowed from public and private collections including the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Latin American Library at Tulane University. In the exhibition, paintings, watercolors, drawings and prints by these artists will be supplemented with sculpture, furniture, decorative arts, and ephemera such as pamphlets and postcards which help tell the story of Mexico in New Orleans-and New Orleans in Mexico.

Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas is curated by Dr. Katie A. Pfohl, and organized by the LSU Museum of Art.