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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Latin America at the Crossroads: Peru

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Join CIPR for the third talk in the “Latin America at the Crossroads” series, this talk focuses on Peru. Voters rejected Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, for president in the April 10, 2016 elections, but gave her party a majority in Congress. The election was marked by controversy and demonstrations, with many concerned that a win for Fujimori would mark a return to the human rights violations and corruption of the elder Fujimori’s presidency.

Dr. Cynthia McClintock, Professor of Political Science and International Afairs at George Washington University, will present on these recent events. Dr. McClintock is author of Peasant Cooperatives and Political Change in Peru (Princeton University Press, 1981) and Revolutionary Movements in Latin America: El Salvador’s FMLN and Peru’s Shining Path (U.S. Institute of Peace, 1998) and the co-author of The United States and Peru: Cooperation at a Cost (Routledge, 2003). A past President of the Latin American Studies Association, she has taught at the Catholic University in Peru, appeared on major U.S. and Peruvian news programs, and testified before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Afairs of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The talk is free and open to the public but RSVP is required.

For more information and to reserve your seat, please contact Sefira Fialkof at cipr@tulane.edu or phone 504.862.3141.

Hermes Mallea presenting Great Houses of Havana

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Hermes Mallea presenting Great Houses of Havana: A Century of Cuban Style
An insider’s tour of Havana’s exceptional houses built between 1860 and 1960 and their fascinating personal histories, alongside Havana’s architectural patrimony.

Lecture at 6:00 PM and book signing at 7:30 PM.
For more information visit www.nohhf.org

This presentation is sponsored by the NOHHF in collaboration with the New Orleans Museum of Art, Beatriz Ball, JW Marriott, Jahncke & Burns Architects, the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, Ileana and José Suquet, Tulane School of Architecture-Master of Preservation Studies and Tulane University-Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute

Teaching Haiti: K-12 Educator Workshop

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This educator workshop will explore the culture of Haiti, focusing on music and dance. This unique workshop focuses on an important, but often understudied area of the Caribbean, and will provide K-12 educators with exciting opportunities to diversify the classroom.

Participants will receive lunch, teaching materials and CEUs.

Check out LARC’s curriculum on Haitian Folktales or the Haiti part of the Day of the Dead Across the Americas to get ready for the workshop.

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Bring a friend! Register with a colleague from the same institution and you can receive a 2 for 1 registration. Please register only one time and follow instructions on the registration form to provide your colleague’s information.

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La Hora del Cuento: Bilingual Story Hour at the Children's Resource Center

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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.

On April 10th at 4:30 PM we will be featuring the book Ada’s Violin, about an orchestra made of recycled instruments, and doing a craft.

Alumni & Friends of the Band Dinner

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Please join Barry Spanier, Director of Bands, Tulane University for the Alumni & Friends of the Band Dinner. The Tulane Concert Band 7th Annual Spring Concert will immediately follow at 7:30 pm in the Dixon Hall Theater. Explore the musical cultures of the Latin world. Feel the passionate rhythms and be transported by the sweeping melodies that have made this music beloved by audiences around the globe. Enjoy the repertoire of Latin composers and others: Malegueña, Amparito Roca, La Virgen de la Macarena, Libertango, Mambo, Danzon No. 2, Puebla de Los Angeles, El Camino Real and Bolero.

For more information, please contact Patricia McWhorter-Broussard 504.314.BAND or patmcwbr@tulane.edu
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Exhibition Opening- Beyond the Canvas: Contemporary Art from Puerto Rico

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Join us on the evening of April 26 to celebrate the opening of Beyond the Canvas: Contemporary Art from Puerto Rico.

The exhibition features the work of five Puerto Rico-based artists spanning several generations who have each developed a process-driven approach to painting. They challenge the notion of the canvas as a flat surface, focusing firstly on its materiality as a site for intervention and manipulation, and secondly as a substrate for painted images. Beyond the Canvas coincides with the 100th anniversary of Puerto Ricans receiving U.S. citizenship and the impending referendum on statehood. MORE >

  • 5:30 PM — VIP/members reception. To join or renew email museum@tulane.edu.
  • 6:30 PM — Lecture with curator Warren James in conversation with Dr. Monica Ramirez-Montagut, Director, Newcomb Art Museum, and Dr. Edie Wolfe, SCLAS Assistant Director for Undergraduate Programs, Tulane University
  • 7:30 – 9 PM — Public reception

Beyond the Canvas will be accompanied by an installation envisioned, curated, and designed by Tulane students from LAST 6961 “Women, Community and Art in Latin America: Puerto Rico.” Co-taught by Edith Wolfe, Assistant Director of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and museum director and exhibition co-curator Monica Ramirez-Montagut, the class asks how Puerto Rican socially-engaged art and artists address problems of gender, sexuality, and other issues affecting women on the island. The student-curated exhibition will document citizen-led projects, including a community-run educational center in a low-income, industrial area of San Juan that organizes a local “theater of the oppressed”; the collective decoration of houses in the hillside El Cerro neighborhood, aimed at increasing visibility of marginalized populations; the recuperation of lost artisanal traditions through intergenerational workshops known as Escuelas Oficios (Trade Schools); participatory urban design projects that are restoring blighted properties in Santurce, and the reclaiming of public space through feminist street art and performance.