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 â’‘¬‘€œ 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 â’‘¬Å“Mâ’‘¬Â, for McDonaldâ’‘¬’“¢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 Iâ’‘¬’“¢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 â’‘¬Å“pura vidaâ’‘¬Â, or â’‘¬Å“pure lifeâ’‘¬Â, 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 â’‘¬‘€œ specifically Central America â’‘¬‘€œ that I often find myself forgetting which class Iâ’‘¬’“¢m studying for. Weekends are usually a time to break free from the weekâ’‘¬’“¢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 canâ’‘¬’“¢t express enough the beauty of this place.

Over the course of my stay here, Iâ’‘¬’“¢ve made attempts to define the identity of this place called â’‘¬Å“Rich Coastâ’‘¬Â, 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 Ricaâ’‘¬’“¢s identity is hard to define, but Iâ’‘¬’“¢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 Ricaâ’‘¬’“¢s identity is now attempting to cope with things like a beautiful, unique tropical bird perched on a giant, humming McDonaldâ’‘¬’“¢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 Iâ’‘¬’“¢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 Valdezâ’‘¬’“¢ music from â’‘¬Å“iTunesâ’‘¬Â. 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 canâ’‘¬’“¢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 Iâ’‘¬’“¢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 donâ’‘¬’“¢t go to college here â’‘¬‘€œ 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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Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Hosted by expert instructor Mtro. Byron Socorec (aka Oxlajuj B’atz’), the Sept. 23 session will focus on where we come from. Bring a picture of a special place and come ready to describe your hometown.

Link to join: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/93988469399?pwd=bkk3eDIzOEhQVjVEV1ZxTHFDTnJvQT09

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

Qué Vola, Nola? - Live Book Reading!

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Join us for a live bilingual reading of their book Qué Vola, Nola?. From the vibrant jazz scenes and Spanish-colonial architecture to the food and weather, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Havana, Cuba, have much in common. And they are both home to anole lizards who love jazz! After a jazz song lures Ramito through a hotel window in Havana, he crawls into in a convenient, comfy suitcase for a nap. When he awakens, Ramito can’t quite find the way back to his tree. His new friend Bernard, an American anole lizard, unsuccessfully tries to convince Ramito that he’s in New Orleans. Is he? Readers of all ages will find the lush, tropical illustrations and the frustrated refrain of “but that is something we have in Havana” endlessly entertaining. In fact, they just might agree that the cities, and their inhabitants, share a lot! We are honored to welcome local author, Abigail Isaacoff and illustrator originally from Cuba, Ramiro Díaz for a bilingual story time at both Pebbles Center locations. Check below and make sure to join us at one of these events. Families will explore this unique story and learn to create their own craft based on the book.

Saturday September 18 at 2 pm
Algiers Regional Library
3014 Holiday Drive

Saturday, September 25 at 1 pm
Children’s Resource Center
913 Napoleon Avenue

This event is a program of the Pebbles Center which is a collaborative project of the New Orleans Public Library and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University. Please follow us on Facebook for up-to-date information on these programs. For more information, email crcrts@tulane.edu.

Teach Central America: Exploring Garifuna Culture

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Sign up by Friday, September 24 to get a copy of the up and coming book Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed which explores the Latinx diaspora.

In honor of Teach Central America Week (October 4 – 10, 2021), Tulane University presents in collaboration with Vanderbilt University and the University of Georgia an educator workshop exploring the diversity of Central America. Over the course of three years, we have produced annual summer teacher institutes to enhance the teaching of Central America at the K-16 level. We are excited to continue the professional development series by providing this online panel open to K-16 educators of any subject area.

There are currently over 600,000 Garifuna around the world. Central America has the highest population; 100,000 in Honduras and 8,000 in Nicaragua, which was one of the last settlements in 1912. Guatemala has a small, isolated population which has retained much of the original culture. The United States has the second highest population, with about 100,000 residing in New York City. There are also populations in Chicago, Louisiana, and California. The number in the US increases every year as more people leave Central America. The Carib populations in Central America have almost entirely vanished, so the Garifuna are now considered the last descendants of the Amer-Indian tribes in South America.

Join us Thursday, October 7th for a discussion with three Garifuna writers/artists leading a discussion on Garifuna culture and identity through performance, writing, food and more. Join the conversation to explore new resources and perspectives to incorporate into your teaching on Central America. Participants in this program will explore Garifuna identity through the work of the three writers and cultural scholars. Janel Martinez, Saraciea Fennell and Isha Sumner. Participants will receive a copy of the up and coming WILD TONGUES CAN’T BE TAMED on a first come, first serve basis. Sign up by Friday, September 24 to guarantee your copy. REGISTER HERE

Janel Martinez is a writer and the founder of the award-winning blog, Ain’t I Latina? an online destination celebrating Afro-Latinx womanhood. The Bronx, NY native is a frequent public speaker discussing media, culture and identity, as well as diversity at conferences and events for Bloomberg, NBCU, SXSW, Harvard University and more. She’s appeared as a featured guest on national shows and outlets, such as BuzzFeed, ESSENCE, NPR and Sirius XM, and her work has appeared in Adweek, Univision Communications, Oprah Magazine, Remezcla and The New York Times. The Honduran-American has been nominated for the 20th Annual Rosoff Award in the 20-Something Category and won the Afro-Latino Festival of New York’s Digital Empowerment Award and, in 2018, was recognized at City Hall by the New York City Council, the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus and the Bronx Delegation to the NYC Council for her contributions as a woman of Garifuna descent. Her work will be included in the forthcoming YA anthology, WILD TONGUES CAN’T BE TAMED, which will be published in November 2021 by Flatiron Books.

Isha Sumner immigrated to the US at the age of 15, the foundation of her Garifuna ethnicity and culture remains central to her identity and sharing that has been a major part of her life for the past 25 years. As a professional Garifuna dancer, Isha was a member of the International Folkloric Garifuna Ballet of Honduras, which toured throughout Honduras & Europe in the early 1990s. From 1995-2000, she was a member of Wanichagu, a Garifuna dance company based in NYC, and performed at the likes of Lincoln Center and Harvard University. Isha’s passion to perform onstage transitioned to more formal acting and included a featured appearance speaking Garifuna in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit in 2007. In 2016 she completed her Associate‘€™s Degree in acting at William Esper School in Manhattan. With a continued passion to share and preserve her own Garifuna culture, Isha has dedicated much of the past 5 years to documenting Garifuna cuisine in Weiga, Let’s Eat.

Saraceia Fennell is a Brooklyn born Black, Honduran writer from the Bronx and the founder of The Bronx is Reading, and Honduran Garifuna Writers and Friends. She is also a publicist who has worked with many award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors. Fennell is board chair of Latinx in Publishing, and on the Advisory Board for People of Color in Publishing. Her forthcoming anthology WILD TONGUES CAN’T BE TAMED will be published by Flatiron Books in November 2021. For more information visit SaracieaFennell.com and follow her on social @sj_fennell.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies at Vanderbilt University.

Sign up by Friday, September 24 to get a copy of their latest book Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed.

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Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Hosted by expert instructor Mtro. Gonzalo Ticun (aka Sotz Aq’ab’al), the Oct. 8 session will focus on the creatures that share our homes and lives. Bring your favorite animal friend to join the discussion.

Link to join: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/93988469399?pwd=bkk3eDIzOEhQVjVEV1ZxTHFDTnJvQT09

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Participants in the Oct. 28 session will get the chance to read the short story “Ri töp chuqa’ ri kär”/“The Crab and the Fish” alongside its author, Mtra. Magda Sotz (aka Ixkamey).

Link to join: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/93988469399?pwd=bkk3eDIzOEhQVjVEV1ZxTHFDTnJvQT09

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.

Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. Nov. 12 is game day with Mtro. Edy Rene Guaján (aka Lajuj B’atz’)! Come prepared to play along and laugh.

Link to join: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/93988469399?pwd=bkk3eDIzOEhQVjVEV1ZxTHFDTnJvQT09

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.