Maikel Fariñas Borrego receives Chancellor’s Doctoral Candidacy Award


Fariñas Borrego at the North Carolina State Fair

Former ISA intern Maikel Fariñas Borrego was awarded the Chancellor’s Doctoral Candidacy Award. Fariñas Borrego was nominated by the History program: Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Chad Bryant; and faculty advisor, Louis A. Pérez, Jr., based on successful advancement into Ph.D. candidacy.

The award was made possible by a generous commitment from Chancellor Folt.

Fariñas Borrego specializes in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Cuba in particular. His works have been published in several journals and compilations from Cuba, Costa Rica, Brazil, Israel and the United States. In 2009, his master thesis Sociabildad y cultura del ocio was published in a book by the Fernando Ortiz Foundation

Outside of his studies, Fariñas Borrego can be found enjoying movies, especially from his favorite directors Lars von Trier, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Park Chan-wook, and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.

Fariñas Borrego was awarded the Clein Graduate Summer Internship to work with the Latino Migration Project in 2014.


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Photo Gallery: Borderlands of the Iberian World


We were pleased to host over 35 academics, students and citizens who attended the Borderlands of the Iberian World Second International Author’s Colloquium. The May 14-17 event welcomed global scholars and ended with a Saturday evening reception.

Support generously provided by the University of North Carolina Provost Office, Departments of History, Religious Studies, and Political Sciences, the African Studies Center, Carolina Asia Center, the Institute for Arts and Humanities, and the Institute for the Study of the Americas.

We hope you will enjoy the photos (below)!



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FLAS Fellow named Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship Week

UNC FLAS Fellow Aazia Mickens-Dessaso was named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship Week. On Monday, the White House brought Aazia and other emerging leaders together to emphasize the importance of investing in women and young entrepreneurs. 

Click here to read the original post. 


Office of Communications


May 6, 2015

President Obama to Recognize Emerging Global Entrepreneurs

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, May 11th, the White House will bring together emerging entrepreneurs from across the United States and around the world to highlight the importance of investing in women and young entrepreneurs to create innovative solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges, including poverty, climate change, extremism, as well as access to education and healthcare. This event comes ahead of the President’s travel to this summer’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya and provides a unique opportunity to galvanize global attention on emerging women and young entrepreneurs.

The event will recognize the impact made by a number of U.S. government-led initiatives. In 2014, the Administration set a goal for its best entrepreneurship programs, now to be led under the umbrella of the Spark initiative, to generate over a billion dollars in private investment for emerging entrepreneurs by the end of 2017, with half of this goal to be raised for women and young entrepreneurs.  The White House will name nine more top American entrepreneurs to be named as Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship to contribute to this goal. The world’s brightest entrepreneurs still require further support through the commitments and collaboration of governments, investors, businesses, organizations and individuals. The event will also recognize the creation of the Spark Global Entrepreneurship coalition to further these objectives.

Speakers for the event will include five entrepreneurs from around the world and from various U.S. government programs, cast members of ABC’s TV series Shark Tank and other organizations. The event will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, at 2:00 pm ET on May 11th.  Additional details about the event will be made available in the coming days.

Guest Speakers

  • Mark Cuban, Investor on “Shark Tank” & Owner of the Dallas Mavericks
  • Barbara Corcoran, Investor on “Shark Tank” & Founder of Barbara Corcoran Venture Partners
  • Daymond John, Investor on “Shark Tank” & CEO and Founder of FUBU
  • Tony ElumeluFounder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation
  • Antonio Gracias, Founder of Valor Equity Partners
  • Julie Hanna, Founder of Kiva

Entrepreneurs participating in the Event include:

Jimena Flórez, Bogota, Colombia

Jimena Flórez is an entrepreneur in the agribusiness and food industry who founded Crispy Fruits in 2012. Her company was formed entirely by women entrepreneurs and is now operated by a majority of women.  Crispy Fruit’s purpose is to design and develop healthy and functional products to meet consumers’ demand for a nutritious and balanced diet, and in the process, empower farmers.  Her company is developing new products with natural ingredients to enhance people’s health.  She started her business with the mission of increasing the quality of life for Colombian farmers by improving their access to technology and capacity building opportunities, and developing sustainable agricultural practices to produce higher quality products that garner fair trade prices. Through President Obama’s Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) initiative, which leverages public-private partnerships to increase women’s economic participation, Jimena received mentorship and training, and access to new trade opportunities, which helped her expand her business. Through her company Crispy Fruits, Jimena empowers cacao farmers in Tumaco, a predominantly Afro-Colombian community, by building the capacity of farmers to adopt organic agricultural processes, secure organic certification and ultimately access direct trade opportunities.

Felipe del Campo, Weston, FL, USA

Originally from Mexico City, Felipe Gomez del Campo founded FGC Plasma Solutions in 2013 and is currently a junior at Case Western Reserve University. From a research project started at a high school science fair to launching it into a company, Felipe is focused on improving the safety and efficiency of jet engines with a plasma assisted fuel injector. Felipe’s research has found that his product can result in a 10 percent decrease in fuel consumption which will result in significant savings, reduce harmful gas emissions for both jet engines on airliners and industrial gas turbines used to generate power. As a recent recipient of a regional prize in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, Felipe plans to further test and develop the injector at both the NASA Glenn Research Center. Felipe’s efforts to expand his business have benefited from an ecosystem of innovation, mentorship and capital. Felipe aspires to help set up a similar entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mexico as well to afford Mexican entrepreneurs the chance to develop their innovative ideas. Felipe also serves as President and co-founder of the Case Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Adepeju Jaiyeoba, Lagos, Nigeria

Adepeju Jaiyeoba founded Mothers Delivery Kits in 2013, after losing a close friend to childbirth, to address maternal and child mortality resulting from unhygienic and unsafe deliveries in Nigeria. With the aim of economically empowering women and teaching behavioral changes in healthcare, her business connects women in rural communities to the lifesaving supplies they need at childbirth at an affordable cost. As a Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders (YALI), an initiative introduced by President Obama in 2013, Adepeju has been able to collaborate with other entrepreneurs, build employee capacity through YALI courses, and receive seed capital and mentorship from the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF). She is currently partnering with another YALI Fellow in Cote d’Ivoire to develop a mobile application to improve communications capabilities, and working with a YALI Fellow in Ghana to begin to expand her business to Ghana. With the support of the USADF entrepreneurship grant, her business has doubled its distribution in the last four months and expanded its services to internally displaced victims of Boko Haram. The grant has also enabled the company to acquire new machinery, establish a storage facility in northern Nigeria to address transportation challenges, increase its Lagos-based staff, and reach nearly 80 community midwives and healthcare provider across 23 states in Nigeria. Adepeju hopes to expand her work and continue to mentor other young entrepreneurs with her passion for change.

Aazia Mickens-Dessaso, Hampton, VA, USA

Aazia Mickens-Dessaso is the cofounder of FreePing, a software company launched in 2014 that provides free streams of utility information to prepaid mobile phone subscribers in emerging markets. Aazia developed the concept while observing the intersection of social movements and technology in Brazil as a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellow. It was there that she discovered the benefits of easily-accessible information on personal and organizational productivity, and observed the ways Brazilians used their phones to interact without using prepaid credits. FreePing has been incubated by a Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition recipient, through which her business has received business acumen, access to capital, and mentorship. Currently, FreePing has a presence in Brazil, South Africa, and Kenya. As a young African American woman in the tech industry, Aazia has led efforts to connect underserved groups to programming and engage, inspire and celebrate women and minorities in entrepreneurship. She organized this year’s International Space Apps Challenge, the first her hometown organized in the challenge’s four-year history, to allow local coders to access NASA’s open data and solve the Agency’s mission-related challenges, and to encourage girls in STEM. Aazia seeks to give voice to a startup ecosystem that is reflective of the country’s rich demographic makeup to produce solutions and products.

Ziad Sankari, Beirut, Lebanon

From Lebanon, Ziad Sankari started CardioDiagnostics in 2012. Ziad lost his father to a heart attack when he was seventeen and his family lacked access to proper healthcare.  He decided to pursue his studies in understanding the electrical activity of the heart and how monitoring and analyzing that activity can save lives. Today, the company uses FDA-approved wearable devices that are 24/7 GPS-enabled heart rate monitors allowing for heart monitoring centers to communicate diagnostic and preventive information to patients in the United States, where the center has over 40 employees, and in Lebanon. In 2008, Ziad attended Ohio State University on a U.S. Fulbright scholarship. After returning to Lebanon, he was selected to pitch his idea at the 2011 Global Innovation through Science and Technology’s (GIST) Tech-I competition where he won first place. Through GIST, a U.S. Department of State funded initiative, Ziad received his first round of seed funding and traveled through various U.S. cities to expand his network, learn how to negotiate, and connect with mentors. Given his experiences, Ziad sees education as essential to successful entrepreneurship and to combat rising issues of poverty and extremism. He hopes to support other startups and build a high-performing educational system in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East that leverages U.S. expertise and connections to open a world of opportunities to younger generations.

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Upcoming Events: Eduardo Gudynas May 5 & 7

Eduardo Gudynas

Centro Latinoamericano de Ecología Social, Montevideo


May 5 & 7, 2015

1) Buen Vivir and Nature’s Rights: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Tuesday, May 5, 3:00-4:30pm, GEC 4003

2) Workshop on “Transitions towards Alternatives to Development: Post-extractivism beyond Capitalism and Socialism

With responses by Gabriela Valdivia (Geography, UNC) and Dana Powell (Anthropology, Appalachian State University, Boone)

Thursday, May 7, 2:00-4:30, GEC 4003

Reception to Follow

Description of the events:  The first event discusses prevailing trends on the concept of Buen Vivir (BV), including its origins in radical development critiques in the Andean countries; its re-appropriation by the region’s progressive governments; ethical and political debates around BV and critiques from modernist perspectives; and the limits and possibilities of linking BV with other critical notions, such as degrowth.  Concrete examples will be drawn from Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru.  The second event examines transitions to post-extractivism as a concrete attempt at bringing about alternatives to development focused on BV.  It analyzes the radical objectives that can be imagined within a transitional democratic framework, and identifies differences with related proposals, such as the transition town initiatives, degrowth, and Sustainable Europe.

About Eduardo Gudynas: Eduardo is Director of the Latin American Center for Social Ecology (CLAES – Centro Latino Americano de Ecología Social), Montevideo, Uruguay. He has been Visiting Professor at the Universidad de la República in Montevideo.  His current appointments include: Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis; Coordinator, Latin American Alliance of Critical Studies on Development (ALECD); and member of the Expert Group on Alternatives to Development, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Quito.  Besides maintaining a very active lecturing circuit at universities in Europe and the Americas, and a program of workshops and meetings with civil society and social movement organizations, Eduardo is an extremely prolific writer.  His two most recent books summarized his work of many years and the continental debates of last decade on Buen Vivir, the Rights of Nature, and transitions to post-extractivism.  See: Gudynas, E. 2014. Derechos de la Naturaleza y políticas ambientales. La Paz: Plural (1st ed.); and Gudynas, E. 2015. Extractivismos. Ecología y economía política de un modo de entender el desarrollo y la Naturaleza. Cochabamba: CEDIB (1st ed.). Both books have separate editions in Perú, Colombia and Argentina.

Sponsored by: The Latin American Social Cartographies Working Group, Carolina Seminar on the Theory and Politics of Relationality, Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA), and Curriculum in Global Studies .

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UNC Alumna Writes Young Adult Novel Inspired by Haitian Earthquake of 2010

See the original post from our friends at UNC Global 

holdtightcoverSurviving the 2010 earthquake in Haiti inspired University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumna Laura Wagner to write the young adult novel Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go, published by Harry N. Abrams in January 2015. The novel is Wagner’s first.

The novel follows Magdalie, a teenager whose adoptive mother dies during the earthquake. Magdalie and her cousin Nadine, who is as close to her as a sister, go to live with their uncle in a camp in devastated central Port-Au-Prince. When Nadine joins her biological father in the United States, Magdalie is left behind to find her own way in her devastated city, coping with her grief, her community’s poverty and the challenge of paying for her schooling. The novel charts her ups and downs as she sets a course for her own future.

Wagner explains that the 2010 earthquake “literally felt like the end of the world.” Wagner was rescued by neighbors and friends after several hours trapped in rubble. She later wrote an article in Salon about the experience, which led to the writing and publication of Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go.

Wagner was in Haiti studying the Creole language and working on a doctoral research project when the earthquake struck. She was about halfway finished with her program, funded by Foreign Language and Area Studies program and International Dissertation Research Fellowship Program awards.

Laura Wagner

“Haiti was already a place where the superstructure of society was not strong. People really immediately knew that if people were going to be saved, they would have to be doing it themselves,” she recalls. “There were a few days that social class didn’t exist, and people shared what they had. Quite literally, the walls came down, and I think that’s why as many people survived.”

Folklore and children’s literature expert Brian Sturm, associate professor in the UNC School of Information and Library Science, adds that adolescence is typically full of upheaval and chaos, but the earthquake’s destruction of Magdalie’s city and family gives credence to the intensity of her emotional journey.

Sturm added, “Magdalie makes her own decisions, thinks critically about the world around her, copes with life and is strong inside herself. Wagner shows these characteristics beautifully.”

Magdalie’s story includes the years after the earthquake, giving Wagner time to explore her protagonist’s new relationships and to share the language, food and rituals of Haiti.

Wagner earned her MA in 2008 and her PhD in anthropology in 2014.

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ISA Co-Sponsors Community DACA Forum

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“…I knew I had to do something to pay off all the sacrifices of coming—leaving my family behind, my mom working three jobs.” -Yazmin Garcia Rico, pictured center. From left to right: Luis Lobo, Yazmin Garcia Rico, Dr. Robert Landry. Not pictured: Panelist Gerry Chapman.

More than 30 citizens, students, community members gathered in Chapel Hill for a forum about recent presidential administrative actions relating to immigration, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA). We were proud to co-sponsor this forum with BB&T and the UNC School of Law.

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Gerry Chapman, pictured far left on front panel, from Chapman Law Firm, first speaks about the DACA executive order.

Speaker Gerry Chapman, Chapman Law Firm, started the discussion with an overview of DACA, and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which is a new immigration benefit created by President Obama on November 20, 2014.

Yazmin Garcia Rico, DACA Recipient and Youth Director for Student Action with Farmworkers, spoke of her experiences and the impact DACA has had on her current job and future.

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The panel representatives came from all backgrounds: an immigration attorney, DACA recipient, Retired Superintendent, and BB&T Executive Vice President.

Dr. Robert Landry, Retired District Superintendent and NC Commissioner to National Education Commission of the States, provided current statistics regarding the state’s growing Latino population and shared his own immigration story.

To conclude the evening, Luis Lobo, Executive Vice President BB&T Multicultural Markets, talked about moving from Costa Rica to North Carolina, and the support BB&T is offering for DACA and DACA renewals.

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Charanga Carolina Concert: April 14

Charanga Carolina will be performing the last concert of the year as a part of the World Music Concert on Tuesday, April 14th at 7:30pm in Hill Hall Rm. 107.

The students have been working hard on an incredibly diverse program including danzón, cha-cha, son montuno, bembe, and bolero. They will be premiering two original instrumental pieces that Director Andy Kleindienst composed and arranged entitled “El Viajero Solitario” (The Lonesome Traveler) and “Huir Del Peligro” (Flee from Danger). Written originally as part of a Latin Jazz suite for big band in 2014, these pieces are rooted in traditional Afro Cuban rhythms while exploring cinematic, orchestral textures as well as modern jazz harmonies and forms.
Charanga Carolina has been stretching their sound as an ensemble and they are excited to share these new pieces with the entire UNC community to close out a great year.

Gamelan Ensemble will be performing first and Charanga will begin around 8:15pm. We look forward to seeing you there.

Additionally, on Friday April 3rd, there will be a free performance entitled “Trovas: Music of Costa Rica” at 8 PM in Hyde Hall. The performers, Juan Carlos Ureña and Jeana Paul Ureña, have performed extensively in Costa Rica and the United States. They will be playing a combination of original music and songs from the nueva canción repertory.

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Latino Migration Project Issues Report on Immigrant Integration in North Carolina

Read the original UNC Global article here

LMP-Report_1-325x250Communities can help immigrants integrate more effectively by drawing on local community members, including the immigrants themselves, according to the “Immigrant Integration in NC: A Summit for Cities and Towns” report released Feb. 7, 2015.

The 15-page report summarizes the activities and recommendations made during a summit held Sept. 17, 2014, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The summit brought together 75 people from 21 counties in North Carolina. Participants came together to share innovative community-based immigration integration practices and to participate in workshops focused on immigrant integration.

Participants shared a wide range of ideas and priorities detailed in the report, including the importance of:

  • Linking immigrant, foreign-born and refugee communities.
  • Recruiting members from immigrant-led organizations to participate in community leadership.
  • Producing bilingual information about community services and facilities.
  • Sharing information about how to access transportation systems.
  • Drawing upon support from faith leaders from diverse backgrounds.
  • Working at both the community level and the policy level to support integration.
  • Acknowledging that barriers faced by immigrants can also affect minority and low-incoming community members.
  • Investing in public and private sector institutions or facilities that can aid integration.

Participants also discussed shared challenges, such as difficulty securing funding, finding services and swaying the anti-immigration perspectives of some local stakeholders. They concluded with a recommendation to continue to share information statewide and hold annual conferences in future years.

The report was produced by the Latino Migration Project , which provides research and educational expertise on Latin American immigration and integration issues in North Carolina. It is a collaborative program of the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Center for Global Initiatives at UNC-Chapel Hill. Co-sponsors for the 2014 summit included the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies, the Center for International Understanding,Uniting NC and the City of High Point Human Relations Department. Funding for the conference was provided by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the UNC Chapel Hill College of Arts and Sciences.

Participants came from across the state, including the cities and counties of Alamance, Asheville, Burlington, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Goldsboro, High Point, New Hanover, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. In addition to municipal officials, participants included representatives from the private sector; law enforcement agencies; Chambers of Commerce; immigrant and refugee serving organizations; K-12 teachers; and faculty, staff and students from institutions of higher education.

Read or download the full report:

Media contact: Katie Bowler Young, director of global relations, UNC Global, +1.919.962.4504,

Latino Migration Project contact: Hannah Gill, Hannah Gill, project director, +1.919.962.5453,

- See more at:

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NEW Interview with Sharon Mujica available!

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Sharon Mujica, former director of educational outreach for the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at UNC and Duke



A new interview with Sharon Mujica, former Director of Educational Outreach for The Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at UNC and Duke,  is available from the Southern Oral History Program. In the interview, Sharon talks about the early days of the consortium, developing the film festival, beginning teacher trainings and the Yucatec Maya program.

Find the full interview recording and transcript here.


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US needs to keep past in mind with Cuba

ISA Director Louis A. Perez Jr writes an Op-Ed for Original post here.


Louis A. Perez Jr. is the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

To better assess the recent change in U.S.-Cuba relations, we need a fuller historical understanding.

Much of the discussion in the United States during the last some weeks has focused on undoing the effects of the past 50-plus years, a time that the Wall Street Journal has characterized as a period of “long-strained relations.” But Cuba has experienced these years of “long-strained relations” very differently than the United States. In Cuba, this period of “long-strained relations” has signified half a century of sustained U.S. efforts at regime change, including punitive economic sanctions and political isolation, one-armed invasion, scores of assassination plots against the Cuban leadership and years of covert operations, including sabotage of Cuban agriculture, industry and transportation.

But that would be so simple a matter. In fact, Cuban memory reaches deeply into the past, to 150 years of U.S. policy dedicated to obstructing Cuban national sovereignty and self-determination. U.S. meddling in Cuban affairs has seared its way into Cuban memory, and must be understood as the context with which Cuba approaches dialogue with the United States.

That is why the Cubans engage the United States warily. This is the reason President Raul Castro spoke on Dec. 17 of the Cuban commitment “to be faithful to our ideals of independence.” U.S. proponents of the much-welcomed initiatives to renew diplomatic dialogue with Cuba make the case for normal relations on the basis that decades of political isolation and economic sanctions have failed to produce the desired outcomes.

The new policy, President Barack Obama affirmed, will serve to “end an outdated approach.” He emphasized the need “to try something different.” The old policy, he said, “hasn’t worked.” Of course, the policy has not “worked.” Of course, a new policy is very much warranted. But it is also true that proponents for a change of “an outdated approach” should tread warily, for in Cuba it does not require much of a political imagination to infer ominously the larger meaning of pronouncements that justify the abandonment of a policy that “has not worked” – not worked at what? Time to try “something different” – at regime change? Does one deduce that what has changed is the means and not the ends? In fact, the rationale for policy change is very much advanced on the grounds that normal diplomatic relations will provide the United States with “the opportunity to influence the course of events,” as Obama has said.

Nor are official Cuban suspicions allayed with much-publicized and seemingly obligatory meetings between visiting U.S. delegations and dissidents. One could only imagine the howls of indignation in the United States if an official Cuban delegation got together with representatives of Occupy Wall Street.

The task at hand between Cuba and the United States has as much to do with the past as it does with the present. The Obama administration needs to move forward sensitively.

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