Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Robbie Dean, '12

Teach for America, Dallas, TX

During Robbie’s senior year at Tulane, he was recruited by Teach for America to teach 5th grade Bilingual Education in Dallas, Texas. Teach for America recruits, trains, and supports recent college graduates and other young professionals to make an impact and provide leadership in predominantly low-income schools. TFA’s vision is centered on the ideal that all children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, will receive a quality education.

As a second year TFA corps member, Robbie currently teaches over forty 5th grade students Spanish Reading & Language Arts, United States History and Science in the Dallas Independent School District. He serves a school of 1000 elementary students of Mexican and Central American background, many of whom are first and second-generation migrants. All of Robbie’s students are categorized as Limited English Proficient (LEP) and receive the majority of their core instruction in Spanish. Robbie was recently appointed by the administration as the campus’s Data Analysis Team Chair, in which he analyzes his school’s achievement data to vertically and horizontally align interventions across grade levels. This summer, Robbie was contracted by the Latino Cultural Center of Dallas to research and cultivate the center’s 2013-2014 educational curriculum. This curriculum is available for free to all Dallas public school teachers so that they may further introduce Latin American Studies and the arts in their classrooms.

He reflects on his time at Tulane…

Why did you choose to major in Latin American Studies?
During my freshman year at Tulane, I explored several different majors related to economics, public policy and Spanish language and literature. My array of academic interests did not fit one sole discipline. After meeting with advisors and academic counselors, I learned of Tulane’s reputable Stone Center for Latin American Studies. By becoming a Latin American Studies major, I knew that I could explore my interests in economic policy, cultural studies, and Spanish language without following a strict and rigid course of study.

This sensation of academic freedom allowed me to investigate Latin American economic reform in authentic ways my first year as an undergrad. As a participant in the Stone Center’s Summer Abroad program in Valparaíso, Chile, I researched and presented a comparison study of Chilean and Argentine educational reform. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to be able to engage in a research project abroad before becoming a Latin American Studies major.

Throughout my academic career at Tulane, the Stone Center consistently provided me exposure to careers in public policy and opportunities to develop my organizational and leadership skills. As a two-time Model of the Organization of American States participant, I was able to meet and learn from policy leaders at the World Bank, the IMF, and the Inter-American Development Bank. Furthermore, I was able to collaborate with students throughout the Americas to prescribe and review policies to catalyze the region’s development.

How has your background in LAST helped you since graduation
Since graduation, employers and professionals have been most impressed by the quantity and quality of research required of LAST majors at Tulane. As a LAST major, I researched extensively different ways to affect economic change that would benefit Latin America‘€™s most marginalized and impoverished communities. One of the most important economic truths that I learned in my studies is that the main source of poverty is inequality in education. By augmenting this understanding with documented research projects and conference presentations, I was able to become a competitive candidate for Teach For America.

Additionally, employers are seeking bilingual and bicultural talent to accommodate an emerging Spanish-speaking market. The LAST major requires students to demonstrate proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese, or Haitian Creole. Both my cultural and language experience in the region make me a more competitive candidate for positions not only in education but also in public, non-profit, and private sector administration.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently as an LAST major?
Personally, I would have used the interdisciplinary freedom of the Latin American Studies major to develop my quantitative and organizational skills more than I did while at Tulane. I now realize that leading organizations and graduate programs in policy and governance are seeking talent who demonstrate competency in organizational management with advanced knowledge in statistics, econometrics, and data analysis. Therefore, I would have used the flexibility of the program to take courses in other disciplines in order to develop said skills.

Any words of wisdom for LAST undergraduates?
I believe that the more specific the academic focus, the more valuable the Latin American Studies degree. In my brief experience, it seems that employers are seeking individuals who demonstrate passion and knowledge of a singular and complex issue rather than a general and broad focus of study.

Explore all of your interests but ultimately hone in on the issues that are most meaningful to you and most pertinent to the your potential career. Find as many ways to engage in research projects and conference presentations that explore these interests. Utilize both Tulane‘€™s and the Stone Center‘€™s abundant resources such as the Dean‘€™s Grant and other scholarships for research to help you fund these projects. Live and travel through Latin America in order to contextualize your studies and develop your foreign language ability. And ultimately, capitalize on the Senior Capstone to help you articulate your academic focus to potential employers.

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Zale-Kimmerling Writer in Residence Valeria Luiselli

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via Newcomb Institute

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. An acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, she is the author of the essay collection Sidewalks; the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth; Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions and Lost Children Archive. She is the recipient of a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship and the winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, The Carnegie Medal, an American Book Award, and has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Kirkus Prize, and the Booker Prize. She has been a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and the recipient of a Bearing Witness Fellowship from the Art for Justice Fund. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s, among other publications, and has been translated into more than twenty languages. She is a Writer in Residence at Bard College and lives in New York City.

The Zale-Kimmerling Writer-in-Residence Program brings renowned woman writers to the Tulane campus. Coordinated through the Newcomb Institute, the Zale-Kimmerling Writer-in-Residence program was established by Dana Zale Gerard, NC ‘€˜85, and made possible by an annual gift from the M.B. and Edna Zale Foundation of Dallas, Texas. Since 2006, the program has been generously supported by Barnes & Noble College Booksellers. In 2010, the program became fully endowed through a gift from Martha McCarty Kimmerling, NC‘€™63, and known as the Zale-Kimmerling Writer-in-Residence program.

Laura Anderson Barbata: Transcommunality Exhibit K-12 Educator Orientation

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Join us for an evening with Tom Friel, Coordinator for Interpretation and Public Engagement as he walks through an innovative tool developed to share the Newcomb Art Museum’s latest exhibit, Laura Anderson Barbata: Transcommunality. The program is designed to introduce K-12 educators to Laura Anderson Barbata’s work and focus on specific elements of the exhibit that connect deeply to the K-12 classroom. While the exhibit is open to limited public access, it plans to open to the public and school visits by Fall 2021. Educators from across the country will find this online introduction to Barbata’s work a valuable resource as the virtual exhibit serves as a unique tool for online learning.

Read more about this exhibit from the Newcomb Gallery of Art About the Exhibit page below:

“The process-driven conceptual practices of artist Laura Anderson Barbata (b. 1958, Mexico City, Mexico) engage a wide variety of platforms and geographies. Centered on issues of cultural diversity, ethnography, and sustainability, her work blends political activism, street theater, traditional techniques, and arts education. Since the early 1990s, she has initiated projects with people living in the Amazon of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Norway, and New York. The results from these collaborations range from public processional performances, artist books and handmade paper, textiles, countless garments, and the repatriation of an exploited 19thcentury Mexican woman ‘€” each designed to bring public attention to issues of civil, indigenous, and environmental rights.

In Transcommunality, work from five of Barbata‘€™s previous collaborations across the Americas are presented together for the first time. Though varying in process, tradition, and message, each of these projects emphasize Barbata‘€™s understanding of art as a system of shared practical actions that has the capacity to increase connection. The majority of the works presented are costumed sculptures typically worn by stilt-dancing communities. Through the design and presentation of these sculptures, Barbata fosters a social exchange that activates stilt-dancing‘€™s improvisational magic and world history. At the core of this creative practice is the concept of reciprocity: the balanced exchange of ideas and knowledge.

The events of this past year ‘€” from the uprisings across the country in response to fatal police shootings to the disproportionate impacts of Covid-19 among Black and brown communities to the bitter divisiveness of the 2020 presidential election ‘€” have renewed the urgency for Barbata‘€™s multifaceted practice. In featured projects such as Intervention: Indigo, participants from various backgrounds reckon with the past to address systemic violence and human rights abuses, calling attention to specific instances of social justice. In The Repatriation of Julia Pastrana, Barbata‘€™s efforts critically shift the narratives of human worth and cultural memory. The paper and mask works presented in the show demonstrate the impact of individual and community reciprocity, both intentional and organic. Through her performance partnerships in Trinidad and Tobago, New York, and Oaxaca, represented throughout the museum, onlookers are invited to connect to the traditions of West Africa, the Amazon, Mexico, and the Caribbean and the narratives these costume sculptures reflect on the environment, indigenous cultures, folklore, and religious cosmologies.

By encouraging diverse collaborators to resist homogenization and deploy the creative skills inherent to authentic local expressions and their survival, Barbata promotes the revival of intangible cultural heritage. Transcommunality horizontally values the systems of oral history and folklore, spirituality, and interdisciplinary academic thought that shape Barbata‘€™s engaging creations, celebrating the dignity, creativity, and vibrancy of the human spirit.”

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An Evening with Multi-Award Winning Author Elizabeth Acevedo

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Join us for an evening with Elizabeth Acevedo. Acevedo presents her third book, Clap When You Land, and discusses her writing process and performance background. The discussion will be followed by a reading.

Poet, novelist, and National Poetry Slam Champion, Elizabeth Acevedo was born and raised in New York City, the only daughter of Dominican immigrants. She is the author of Clap When You Land, (Quill Tree Books, 2020); With the Fire On High, (Harper, 2019); the New York Times best-selling and award-winning novel, The Poet X. (HarperCollins, 2018), winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Young Adult Fiction, the 2019 Michael L. Printz Award, and the Carnegie Medal; and the poetry chapbook Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths. (YesYes Books, 2016), a collection of folkloric poems centered on the historical, mythological, gendered and geographic experiences of a first-generation American woman. From the border in the Dominican Republic, to the bustling streets of New York City, Acevedo’s writing celebrates a rich cultural heritage from the island, inherited and adapted by its diaspora, while at the same time rages against its colonial legacies of oppression and exploitation. The beauty and power of much of her work lies at the tensioned crossroads of these competing, yet complementary, desires.

This online program is free and open to the public. It is part of our ongoing series of public engagement programs with Latinx writers that explore Latin America, race, and identity. Read more about Acevedo’s work in this recent article from The Atlantic.

Sponsored by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Newcomb Institute.

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Other Supported Events

  • March 16, 2021 – An Evening with Dominican Musician and Poet, Fermín Ceballos. Sponsored by the Center for the Gulf South
  • March 25, 2021 – Open Mic Night In Celebration of Elizabeth Acevedo. Sponsored by the Tulane Black Student Union (tBSU) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs

Please help us to support local bookstores by purchasing any copies of Acevedo’s books at Tubby & Coo’s.

For more information, please email crcrts@tulane.edu or call 504.865.5164.

Kaqchikel/K'iche' Language Table: Sociolinguistic Language Variation

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Join fellow students, teachers, and native speakers to practice your Kaqchikel language skills and deepen your understanding of Kaqchikel culture. This event is held on the last Thursday of each month for the duration of the Spring 2021 semester.

The March 25th session will focus on sociolinguistic variations within the Kaqchikel language. It will be facilitated by Rebecca Moore.

Kaqchikel/K'iche' Language Table: K'iche' Language Learning

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Join fellow students, teachers, and native speakers to practice your Kaqchikel language skills and deepen your understanding of Kaqchikel culture. This event is held on the last Thursday of each month for the duration of the Spring 2021 semester.

The April 29th session will focus on K’iche’ language learning with guest speaker Nela Petronila Tahay Tzay. It will be facilitated by Ignacio Carvajal.

Global Read Webinar Series Spring 2021

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The Stone Center for Latin American Studies coordinates the annual CLASP Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature and is excited to collaborate with other world area book awards on this exciting online program. Join us this spring 2021 as we invite award winning authors to join us in an online conversation about social justice, the writing process and an exploration of culture and identity across world regions. This annual Global Read Webinar series invites readers of all ages to join us as we explore books for the K-12 classroom recognized by world area book awards such as the Africana Book Award, the Américas Award, the Freeman Book Award, the Middle East Outreach Council Book Award, and the South Asia Book Award.

Each webinar features a presentation by an award-winning author with discussion on how to incorporate multicultural literature into the classroom. Be sure to join the conversation with our webinar hashtag #2021ReadingAcrossCultures.

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SPRING 2021 SCHEDULE – Read more about the program here.
All webinars are at 7:00 PM EST.

  • January 12 – The Américas Award highlights the 2020 Honor Book, The Moon Within by Aida Salazar
  • February 3 – The Children’s Africana Book Award highlights the 2020 book award winning, Hector by Adrienne Wright
  • March 11 – The Middle East Outreach Award presents 2020 Picture Book award winner, Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron
  • April – Freeman Book Award, a project of the National Consortium for Teaching Asia will present a book TBD.
  • May 13 – South Asia Book Award presents The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

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All sessions are free and open to the public. All times listed refer to Eastern Standard Time (EST). Sponsored by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, the South Asia National Outreach Consortium, the Middle East Outreach Council, and African Studies Outreach Council, The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia.