Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Madison Asher, '12

Ventanillas de Salud, Mexican Consulate, Washington, DC

After graduating from Tulane, Madison began a certificate program in Spanish Translation at American University. She notes that, when she used to tell people she was studying Spanish, the most frequent response was ‘€œOh, you’d like to be a Spanish teacher?‘€ As she had no intention of teaching, this program has demonstrated to her that her language skills acquired while at Tulane can be put to use outside of the classroom. She interned at the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) in the Language Access and Advocacy department to complement her two semesters at American University. Now, she has landed a “dream” job working as the Coordinator of the Ventanillas de Salud, a health services program implemented through the Consular Section of the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, DC.

Why did you choose to major in Latin American Studies?
I remember the moment I decided to change my major to Latin American Studies. I was in Maureen Shea‘€™s Social Problems in Latin American Literature class. It was one of the first cultural classes I took that was conducted in Spanish. I fell in love with the idea of sitting in a room talking in Spanish about something other than grammar rules. We had just watched a documentary on Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo and I felt this passion brewing up in me. I realized my love for the Spanish language transcends the grammatical landscape and is actually embedded in the culture of a people. From then on I took a majority of my classes on social issues of Latin America (conducted in either Spanish or Portuguese to keep my foreign language desires satisfied!)

How has your background in LAST helped you since graduation?
Of course there‘€™s the language component. Being fluent in Spanish with a substantial amount of Portuguese was the only reason I was able to take part in my current translation program and internship when I first arrived in DC. However, it has proven to be even more fruitful in my current position with the Mexican Consulate. Truthfully, one of the main reasons they hired this “gringa” is because my language skills are top notch. I made sure to take a course load that would heavily immerse me in the Spanish language and now I feel right at home working from the Mexican Consulate as a white girl from New York surrounded by Mexicans, Bolivians, Guatemalans and Salvadorans.

I also have to give some thanks to the work I was required to do during the senior capstone. I chose my thesis based on personal interests and it has proven to be more useful than I expected. I focused on medicinal practices of the Amazonian indigenous population and who knew I would still be drawing from that knowledge today. I work in healthcare in the US but with people who come from a variety pack of healthcare cultures.

Understanding the differences in these practices not only inspired me to pursue this position in the first place, but also helps me realize how differently someone I deal with may approach their health practices. In the end, my capstone paper was just okay, but the research I put into it for months far supersedes the final product. Enjoying that journey has helped me build a stronger foundation for what I hope to continue pursuing.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently as a LAST major?
I think I was a little language crazy and chose most of my classes based on the fact that they were taught in either Spanish or Portuguese. Perhaps this took away from the opportunity to get the full interdisciplinary experience. But in the end, the language skills were my most successful accomplishment (along with surviving the senior capstone, of course!) Also, I would have attended more Pachangas!

Any words of wisdom for LAST undergraduates?
Enjoy what you‘€™re learning! Even the topics you aren‘€™t particularly thrilled about, keep the information bookmarked in your brain. You‘€™ll realize that, over time, each little anecdote from your courses is interrelated and can be applied in settings you never thought possible. Choose your capstone thesis based on your personal interests, not the ones you think you’re supposed to be researching. Focus your attention more on the journey of learning all about something incredible than on the final 25 pages you have to hand in. Overall, embrace this liberal arts undergraduate education. I changed my major from a very career-oriented major to LAST because I realized my undergraduate life was an opportunity to follow my current interests, not my potential ones. And I am oh so glad that I did!

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Ancient Civilizations K-16 Series for Social Studies Educators

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Ancient Civilizations
K-16 Educator Workshop Series
Spring 2020

For educators of grade levels: K-12

Tulane University’s Middle American Research Institute (MARI), Stone Center for Latin American Studies (SCLAS), S.S. NOLA, and AfterCLASS will host a professional development workshop series open to all K-16 school professionals. These workshops will challenge educators to learn about the unexpected impact and connections of Ancient civilizations from Central America to the Gulf South. In particular, the workshops will foster a deeper comprehension of how to incorporate art, language and food across the disciplines. Participants will learn unique ways to incorporate the Tunica, Maya and Aztec cultures into the classroom in a variety of subjects. Registration for each workshop is $5 and includes light snacks, teaching resources, and a certificate of completion.

The workshop series will prepare teachers:

  • To utilize digital humanities resources in the classroom;
  • To design culturally appropriate primary and secondary research projects;
  • To teach about Pre-Columbian and ancient civilizations, language, geography and foods;
  • To encourage student self-determination through meaningful and relevant cultural projects.

Saturday, January 25, 2020
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
The Tunica of the Lower Mississippi River Valley
Middle American Research Institute – Seminar Room
6823 St. Charles Avenue
This workshop will introduce participants with little or no prior knowledge to ancient Tunica history, art, and language, with special focus on the role of food and native foods of this region. Participants will explore the physical, cultural and linguistic characteristics of the region. Representatives of the Tunica community will introduce their language and culture and the work they do to preserve their language.

Friday, March 6, 2020
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Understanding Maya Fare: Beyond Tamales and Cacao
AfterCLASS – Taylor Education Center
612 Andrew Higgins Blvd. #4003
In collaboration with the Annual Tulane Maya Symposium, this workshop focuses on foods of the Maya. Participants will explore the foods of the Maya focusing on the role of food over time. Join us as we hear from chocolate specialists and our Kaqchikel language scholar will discuss the importance of corn. REGISTER HERE.

Thursday, April 29, 2020
7:00 – 8:30 PM
Teaching Aztec History through Art
Participants in this workshop will explore the art and culture of the Aztec community. This workshop has moved online and will consist of a 60 minute online webinar that includes an introduction to teaching Aztec history, a discussion of different art objects that the Aztecs created which reveal insights into their history, and a discussion of new online resources to incorporate into your teaching.

The webinar is free an open to educators of all grade levels. In order to access the session, please register here.

Global Read Webinar Series 2020

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Diverse Books for the K-12 Classroom
February – June 2020 – All webinars are 6 PM CST
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Once a month, the World Area Book Awards (Américas Award, Africana Book Award, Freeman Book Award, Middle East Book Award, and the South Asia Book Award) will sponsor a 60-minute webinar on a book recognized by one of the awards. Each webinar features a presentation by an award-winning author with discussion on how to incorporate multicultural literature into the classroom. Please read along with us this spring as we explore the world through these award-winning books. We encourage all readers to join in on the conversations each month and ask the author your own questions live.

Be sure to join the conversation with our webinar hashtag #2020ReadingAcrossCultures. Visit www.internationalizingsocialstudies.blog for more information and to register for free.

  • AFRICAFEBRUARY 26, 2020 Africana Book Award
    Grandpa Cacao, A Tale of Chocolate from Farm to Family by Elizabeth Zunon
  • MIDDLE EASTMARCH 18, 2020 Middle East Book Award
    Darius the Great is Not OKAY by Adib Khorram
  • SOUTH ASIAAPRIL 14, 2020 – South Asia Book Award
    The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art by Barb Rosenstock
  • LATIN AMERICAMAY 11, 2020 – Américas Award
    Auntie Luce‘€™s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour
  • ASIAJUNE 23, 2020 – Freeman Book Award
    Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

All sessions are free and open to the public. Register by visiting internationalizingsocialstudies.org. Sponsored by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, the South Asia National Outreach Consortium, the Middle East Outreach Council, the African Studies Outreach Council, and The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia.

Online Summer Book Group for K-12 Educators

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For pre-service, early career and veteran teachers who love reading and learning through literature who want to explore award-winning books for the middle and early high school classrooms. Join us as we read four books that explore stories of coming-of-age from multiple perspectives. Participants will receive a copy of each book and participate in an open discussion with other K-12 educators. We will launch the book group with The Other Half of Happy. The group will meet online and explore the real story behind this award-winning book with the author Rebecca Balrcárcel. Join us this summer as we discover new stories and books for your classroom.

Register here for $15 (includes all 4 books).

All online Zoom meetings are at 7:00 PM CST.

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Sponsored by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and AfterCLASS at Tulane University. For more information, please email crcrts@tulane.edu.