Work with us! Job opportunity: Business services coordinator


The Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill seeks applications from qualified candidates for its Business Services Coordinator position. The Business Services Coordinator is responsible for the day-to-day human resources and financial management tasks in the department. Duties of the position include, but are not limited to: serving as the primary point of contact; maintaining departmental calendars & schedules; accounting, financial reporting, budget management, summarizing and reconciling financial data, procurement and expenditures; personnel administration; and special projects. This position ensures that all business activities are completed in a timely, effective, and efficient manner while complying with university, State and Federal guidelines. In addition, this position will also provide website content management; newsletter development; coordination of events (including venue reservations, speaker logistics, catering, promotional materials, audiovisual support, set-up/take-down of event); hire and supervise work study students; act as primary departmental contact with the College or Arts & Sciences Business Center for the purposes of accounting and HR transactions, which includes: general budget oversight, consultation with the Chair, acting as HR liaison for purposes of initiating HR actions, acting as accounting liaison for the curriculum’s fiscal needs, and serving as the time management administrator.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or status as a protected veteran.

Bachelor’s degree in business administration or a related discipline; or an equivalent combination of training and experience. All degrees must be received from appropriately accredited institutions.

This position requires strong written and verbal communication skills, along with demonstrated knowledge of Microsoft Excel, Word, and Outlook. The selected candidate must also demonstrate interpersonal skills, attention to detail, coordination, leadership, problem-solving, confidentiality and organizational skills while being able to work in a fast-paced environment. The successful applicant will have these demonstrated abilities and be willing to engage in a flexible schedule for ISA program activities and events which require evening and weekend work. In addition, this position requires the ability to multi-task, prioritize deadlines and organize ideas, events and other work tasks. The ideal candidate will be self-directed, recognizing the need for attention to detail while meeting deadlines, and have demonstrated analytical skills.

Knowledge of and experience with University systems such as ConnectCarolina (PeopleSoft) and Infoporte is preferred. Knowledge and experience with EHRA and SHRA policies and procedures, regulations and guidelines for contracts and grants is also preferred. In addition, previous experience of working with students, as well as familiarity with Spanish language is also highly preferred.

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New Roots Wins Elizabeth B. Mason Project Award from Oral History Association


See original post from our friends at UNC Global here.

New Roots/Nuevas Raíces: Voices from Carolina del Nortehas received the 2016 Elizabeth B. Mason Project Award in the major projects category from the Oral History Association(OHA), an organization committed to the development of oral history.

The award, which recognizes outstanding oral history projects, will be presented to New Roots at the Oral History Association’s annual meeting in Long Beach, California, on Oct. 13. Winners receive an award plaque and one-year memberships in the OHA.

New Roots is a research initiative of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that documents the migration, settlement and integration of Latino communities in North Carolina through oral history. Founded in 2007, the project has generated over 160 interviews, with around 40 new interviews conducted annually by bilingual staff and students. The interviews address various themes, such as migrant experience, adult education, youth activism, language and communication.

“It is an honor to be selected for this award, which also honors the many people who have shared their stories and are shaping North Carolina history. We hope the archive will serve as a valuable resource for Latino communities, students and researchers now and in the future,” said Hannah Gill, director of New Roots.

The initiative is led by the Latino Migration Project, a joint project of the Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA) and the Center for Global Initiatives, in collaboration with the Southern Oral History Program and UNC Libraries. New Roots also receives support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education.

“We’re delighted by the success of the New Roots initiative and are grateful for this external recognition of their work,” said Louis Perez Jr., director of ISA. “New Roots exemplifies the kind of engaged scholarship that’s possible at UNC, which has a long tradition of interdisciplinary and collaborative research.”

Since 1966, the OHA has helped foster best practices for oral history and oral historians. In 1993, the organization established a series of awards to recognize outstanding achievements in oral history, with results announced during its annual meetings in October.

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Quiceno wins prestigious 2016 CLASP award for K-12 educators


CLASP award winner Ana Quiceno (left) with outreach coordinator Emily Chávez

Spanish teacher Ana Quiceno knows the value of learning a second language. That’s why she not only teaches linguistic skills, but also works to expose students to cultural content and contexts beyond the classroom.

“Spanish is more than just tacos,” said Quiceno. “When students learn Spanish, I want them to know they are learning something useful for their life.”

Quiceno nurtures just that; students in her classes not only practice the language, but they also read and analyze works from diverse authors and connect with peers in Latin American countries over Skype. In analyzing texts from different authors, she encourages students to think about not only the author’s point of view, but also their own behavior and expectations.

“I want students to know there is a world and it is waiting for them, and they can look for it by themselves,” said Quiceno.
Quiceno herself knew what she wanted to be since she was 11-years-old. Coming from a family of educators, she always knew she wanted to be a teacher. When an opportunity through the VIF teaching program came, which encourages global educator development through cultural exchange, Quiceno made the move from her home in Colombia to Siler City, NC.

Since 2012, Quiceno has been a Spanish teacher at Jordan-Matthews, a Title I public high school. Siler City is a town whose Latino population grew exponentially in the 1990s and early 2000s. Latinos now make up around half of the overall population of just over 8,000. Quiceno’s passion to connect students to both the local and global communities in her classes caught the attention of Emily Chávez, outreach coordinator at the UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and a member of the Consortium in Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP).

Chávez nominated Quiceno for the 2016 NC Consortium in Latin American Studies Program award for K-12 educators, which recognizes excellence and innovation in the teaching of Latin American and/or the Caribbean among elementary, middle, and high school teachers. Chávez said Quiceno’s creative lessons encouraged not only her Latino students to “take pride in their ethnic and cultural backgrounds,” but they also encouraged other students to “develop respect, appreciation, and interest in the histories and cultures of their Latino peers and neighbors.”

Quiceno’s clear passion for teaching and her students impressed the Consortium in Latin American Studies Program committee as she was named the winner.

“I was so excited [to win the award],” said Quiceno. “I am proud to teach my students, and want them to know that what they learn daily really matters.”

About the Consortium in Latin American Studies Program (CLASP)
CLASP’s mission is to promote all facets of Latin American Studies throughout the world. Its broad range of activities include the encouragement of research activities, funding for professional workshops, advancement of citizen outreach activities, and development of teaching aids for the classroom.

Read more: Click- Official CLASP announcement


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ISA Director on the revival of racialized representations of Cuba in travel relations with the US

The North American Congress on Latin America featured an article by ISA director Louis A. Pérez, Jr. who discusses the transformation of “people-to-people” into an element of U.S.-Cuba policy. Louis A. Pérez, Jr. is the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History and is the author of, among others, Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos (UNC Press 2011) and The Structure of Cuban History: Meanings and Purposes of the Past (UNC Press 2013), which has just been reissued in paperback. Thank you to our friends at the North American Congress on Latin America for publishing. See the original post below or click here

“Visit Cuba, Before It Changes!”

As relations with Cuba move toward normalization, the transformation of “people-to-people” travel into an element of U.S.-Cuba policy revives old racialized representations of the island and its people.

Louis A. Pérez, Jr.

Over the course of 55 years, the United States has pursued change in Cuba with implacable tenacity and almost single-minded resolve: one armed invasion, scores of assassination plots, years of covert operations, and decades of punitive economic sanctions.  An embargo—“harsher than on any other countries in the world,” as Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson acknowledged in 2015—was designed with malice of forethought: to inflict adversity upon the Cuban people and deepen Cuban discontent through economic privation, in the hope that hardship would bestir the island’s people to rise up and, in one fell swoop, precipitate the overthrow of the Castro government.

Starting in 2014, the Obama administration introduced a new lucidity to U.S. policy—one informed with a more nuanced appreciation of the perils attending political change obtained through economic collapse. The United States’ 55-year-old policy had not worked, the President affirmed outright on December 17, 2014:  “In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date.  When what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new.”

In principle, Obama’s words represented a remarkable paradigm shift. However, in practice, the President’s actions have thus far been less a change of ends than a change in means. That is to say, a reset of U.S. strategies for change: if not change of regime, in the short run, then change in the regime, in the long run. For 55 years, the United States had insisted upon political change in Cuba as the precondition to normal diplomatic relations. Under the Obama administration, that policy has been turned on its head, establishing that normal diplomatic relations are the condition to obtain political change. “Through engagement,” President Obama explained, “we have a better chance of bringing out change than we would have otherwise.” He elaborated on this when speaking with CNN’s Candy Crowleylater in December 2014: “If we engage,” Obama said, “we have the opportunity to influence the course of events at a time when there’s going to be some generational change in that country… I think we should seize it, and I intend to do so.”

The new policy of “engagement” contemplates political change induced from within, not imposed from without, and is a strategy intended to “empower” the Cuban peoplethemselves to act as agents of change.  According to Assistant Secretary Jacobson, “We would hope to bring about change in the regime. And simultaneously, we would hope to empower the Cuban people to be able to make that change.”

People-to-People’s Subversive Intent

Few “change-in-the-regime” strategies have attracted as much policy interest and public attention as the expansion of “people-to-people” travel initiatives. Originally conceived during the 1990s, the idea of people-to-people was informed with subversive intent, as the United States was persuaded that an expanded U.S. presence in Cuba would serve to diffuse American values among the Cuban people, and thereupon to hasten political change. As Fidel Castro warned in 1995, “They seek to penetrate us… weakening us… and destabilizing the country.”

In 2007, then Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) called American travelers the U.S.’s “most potent weapon.” (In October 2000, Dodd maintained that “There is no better way… to communicate America’s values…than by unleashing the average American men and women to demonstrate, by daily living, what our great country stands for, and the contrasts between what we stand for and what exists in Cuba today.”) Americans “will take new ideas, new values and real change for Cuba,” predicted Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) in January 2015. “We’ll see a dramatic change in Cuba if there is more travel.” Indeed, American travel to Cuba has today assumed something of a strategic imperative.  As Vicki Huddleston, former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, affirmed in her 2010 book Learning to Salsa: New Steps in U.S.-Cuba Relations (co-authored with Cuban-American diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual), “People-to-people contacts… are a fundamental tool serving a new strategic perspective: change in Cuba must come from within.”

In recent years, the Obama administration has revived people-to-people initiatives and acted quickly to expand authorized travel Cuba. Throughout 2015, the Treasury Department implemented new measures to facilitate licensed travel to Cuba. In early 2016, a U.S.-Cuba civil aviation agreement authorized as many as 110 daily flights between the United States and Cuba, potentially increasing the 4,000 charter flights annually to as many as 45,000 scheduled flights, a “key element” within the President’s broader policy of normalizing relations. U.S. travelers were thus enlisted as agents of change, whose very authorizations to travel to Cuba were granted in function of U.S. policy.

People-to-people programs are licensed by the Treasury Department, and authorization is based on whether the tour itinerary “is structured to enable participants to have direct and individual people-to-people dialogues with the Cuban people and how the trip will allow for such dialogues.”  Until March 2016, people-to-people programs were limited to group tours organized by travel agencies and tour operators, offered under the auspice— per Treasury Department regulations— of “an organization that sponsors and organizes educational exchanges,” including college alumni associations, local chambers of commerce, museums, and educational groups, among others.  In March 2016, the Treasury Department expanded licensed travel to allow “individual people-to-people travel,” with the proviso that the “traveler engages in a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities and that will result in a meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.”

Selling Cuba

“Selling Cuba” has become a subject of expanding interest among travel agents and marketers at travel conventions and in trade publications—often for exorbitant prices.Changing U.S. policy has propelled Cuba travel into a growth industry.  Scores of licensed tour providers, travel agencies, and tour consultants compete for institutional clients and individual customers in an increasingly crowded, but highly lucrative, market environment.  “Selling Cuba” has become a subject of expanding interest among travel agents and marketers at travel conventions and in trade publications—often for exorbitant prices. In fact, a host of survey companies are presently engaged in ascertaining the demographics of prospective American travel to Cuba.

The fiction that the people-to-people program is a form of “cultural engagement” and not “tourism” is assiduously maintained. In fact, something of a colonial anthropology, as if taken from tourist ethnographies of the nineteenth century, informs the discourse of people-to-people engagement, with Cubans presented as a people with exotic charm who are eager to please American visitors.  “The natives welcome Americans with open arms,” one travel writer has assured visitors to the islands. The Cultural-Explorations tour has promised travelers “a local perspective” through “interactions with welcoming natives.” According to a tour offered by Arizona State University, Cubans are a “warm and friendly people,” who approach life with “an ability to dance and sing even in the most difficult times.”

The most commonplace facets of everyday life, ordinary people—boys and girls, the elderly and the ill, farmers and fishermen—going about their daily lives in ordinary ways, have been incorporated into the sightseeing itinerary of many people-to-people tour operators. The Friendly Planet tour includes a visit to a Havana primary school for travelers “to interact with children in their classroom.” InsightCuba has promised the opportunity to “indulge and laugh and play with Cuban school children” and the Travel Experts tour visits a Cuban daycare center and holds out the promise that “the children may even delight you with a song or two.” A Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce tour includes a visit to Pinar del Río, “where you will get to know an authentic tobacco farmer [and] enjoy a visit inside the farmer’s home,” which is touted as an “exciting encounter” and “a superb opportunity to witness up-close how Cuban families live in a rural setting.” The Travel Experts tour of Pinar del Río notes:  “Before you know it, you’ll be part of the family and will be made to feel very special.” A recent tour offered by Arizona State promotes a visit to a daycare center where “children can share stories with you and you can relate through stories of your children or grandchildren,” while the Road Scholar tour offers multiple opportunities to engage in people-to-people interactions.  In Havana: the opportunity to “meet members of either a Senior Center or Down’s Syndrome community center to share conversation and perhaps exchange a song or two.” In Cienfuegos: “At the Farmers Market, try making purchases with Cuban Pesos to understand the cost of living for Cubans and learn how much basic necessities cost.” In rural Camagüey: “Meet the teachers and students of the two room schoolhouse and discuss how education works in this remote village.  Visit the humble homes and meet the village families.  Try a few words of Spanish and perhaps share a few moments of true intercultural exchange.”

Cuba’s “locals” are represented as a curious lot, for whom the traveler is asked in advance to exercise benign forbearance.  “Some locals dress outrageously,” a tour with the University of Arizona tour alerted travelers, “[They] pose eagerly for camera-ladened tourists.  Of course, after a click, they eagerly reach their hand for a peso.”

In all of these descriptions of Cuba that are offered by people-to-people travel programs, Cuba appears as a place of the mysterious Other—at once a post-colonial and post-revolutionary destination, a country previously prohibited and proscribed to which Americans suddenly have access, and a “long-forbidden island” with “forbidden shores.” The prospective traveler is asked to contemplate Cuba variously as “a mystery to most Americans;” “a mystical place;” an “exotic location,” and “one of the world’s most enigmatic countries.”

The Cuban Time Warp Trope

To visit Cuba is to experience changelessness, to move among a people in the throes of hard times, contemplating the prospects of better times and improved circumstances, to be sure, the very imminence of which threatens to spoil Cuba as a sightseeing experience. Time is of the essence. “Want a chance to see Cuba before it changes forever?” the tour operator InsightCuba, recently asked its prospective customers.  “Better run!” Meanwhile, the GeoEx tour predicted in 2015 that Cuba’s “culture will inevitably change,” and emphasized that “the time to go is now!” Similarly the words used by Cuba Explore tours are almost rhapsodic: “Imagine a nation still pristine and innocent—where strip malls, billboards, neon lights, McDonald’s and Starbucks are absent.  One-in-ten cars are more than 60 years old.  Cuba’s like a time machine with the dial set to the 1950s…There’s a real feeling that everyone wants to get there before it changes too much…”

The narrative of changelessness allows too the inclusion of arrested economic development as a reasonable sightseeing attraction: Cuba as a “time warp” in which to delight in the sensation of time having stood still in a neo-colonial past. Havana “looks firmly stuck in the 1950s,” CNN has marveled.  “Vintage cars roam the streets, the landscape is absent of strip malls and global chains, and the buildings—though crumbling—hark back to a grander time.  It is these throwbacks that lend Havana, the country’s capital, an undeniable charm.  A charm that, some worry, is in peril once the U.S. embargo lifts.” To visit Cuba is to enter a time capsule, to experience life as it was lived a half century ago.

The implication is that to visit Cuba is to time travel, an opportunity to see a people actually living real life in the past, making do and getting by as they did more than a half-century ago. Not a few contemplate the future of Cuba preserved in the past as a living and lived-in museum, to be experienced as a way of life on the cusp of extinction. Perhaps the promise of Cuban resurrection is to be fulfilled with Cuba as a parody of itself, preserved in the cinematography of the American imagination as an “atmospheric” condition, all of course to the deepening dismay of many Cubans—circumstances that, as Cuban journalist Carlos Manuel Alvarez (writing for the New York Times) indicated, produce among Cubans “the annoying experience of being viewed as something like an exotic species.”

The “frozen-in-time” metaphor serves as the narrative logic through which to delight in Cuban adversity— “crumbling and captivating,” is how one exulted traveler put it recently. The University of North Carolina tour of Old Havana has promised “a step back in time, to observe the neglect.” Rough Guides offers a tour to Centro Habana, “full of broken sewage systems, potholed roads and piles of rubbish,” and adds that the city “It isn’t for the faint-hearted.” Meanwhile, a program run by Bryant University describes the island as a place of “faded glamour,” that is “now a shadow of its former prestige,” and “a world where time is held captive.”

This is Cuba mired in circumstances of adversity as a photogenic object of the sightseer gaze, and an island living under impoverished material circumstances whose plight as a historical condition offers a visitors’ attraction. An exultant Steven Rattner, writing for the New York Times, traveled to Cuba to bear witness to an “economy crumbling,” and discerned in Cuban prostration a cautionary tale that he wanted his own children to witness up-close: “I wanted my children to see firsthand the ineffectiveness of socialism at creating prosperity.”

All in all, the moral of their story is simple: capitalism works while socialism does not.  Therein lays the supposed promise of U.S. capitalism: to rescue the island from the follies of Cuban socialism. The traveler is expected to offer words of wisdom, to point out to Cubans the error of their ways and tout the virtues of capitalist system. This is not to suggest insidious intent or mischievous purpose.  On the contrary, Americans—mostly—of good will, eager to be helpful during times of adversity, will offer counsel about this and make suggestions about that, all with the best of intentions: something of a “people-to-people” capitalist exchange. All in all, the moral of their story is simple: capitalism works while socialism does not.  At the “people-to-people” level, this is seductive stuff, particularly in an era ofcuentapropismo—that is, a time when small Cuban entrepreneurs are launching their own new businesses and making a go of it in an emerging market environment, with a little bit of help from their new-found friends.

Adversity serves as an opportunity for Americans to understand “the very real challenges [Cubans] face every day,” a tour operated by Penn State has suggested. Classic Journeys has satisfied the voyeurist impulse by enabling travelers the opportunity to “shop in the local [Havana] markets on a typical Cuban’s budget for food;” and Friendly Planet’s tours visit “alocal ration store,” where the Cuban host “will explain the system of rationing.” Travelers on the Arizona State tour visited a small farm, an experience to provide insight into “the challenges” faced due to the “lack of modern equipment.”

Beyond depicting the Cuban economy as stuck in a ruinous past, tour itineraries have also prepared Americans to anticipate Cubans as needy recipients of Americans largess, thereby discharging the humanitarian purpose for which the Treasury Department authorized travel.  Penn State has provided numerous sightseeing occasions in which to enact the humanitarian exchange and encourage donations: a visit to a maternity center, a primary school, and a senior citizen center. An environment-friendly Cornell tour to Pinar del Río provides the occasion to “plant a tree with your fellow travelers.”

These voyeuristic experiences of adversity provide an opportunity to further a U.S.-centric narrative that disseminates U.S. values. These are, it bears repeating, the very function of the visitsWhat is sinister about these efforts is not the donations themselves, but the auspices under which they are presented. These voyeuristic experiences of adversity provide an opportunity to further a U.S.-centric narrative that disseminates U.S. values. These are, it bears repeating, the very function of the visits, and while it would be facile to suggest that these “dialogues” occur on every occasion, of course, there is no doubt that these interactions do occur. People-to-people travel, International Expeditions explains to prospective travelers, requires participation “in cultural experiences and direct contact with the Cuban people to learn more about them and their culture, while they [Cubans] learn about the American way of life.” Bloomberg News recently reported on U.S. contact with ordinary Cubans by contending that “Fueling [Cubans’] rising expectations is a powerful subversive act.”

These are threshold moments, a time in which peoples of both countries are in the process of renewing familiarities.  It would be an extraordinary turn of events indeed if, after 60 years, Americans presume to renew their relationship with Cubans with a combination of the arrogance and ignorance that informed their attitudes during the pre-Revolution period of 1950s. But to date, that has largely been the case as people-to-people tourism revives the tropes reminiscent of “First World meets Third World” narratives. Only now, to such narratives is added a triumphalist claim: that a change of U.S. policy will rescue Cubans from the straits into which they have plunged themselves.  These are the early formative moments of the next phase of an evolving and complex Cuba-U.S. history, but they represent an inauspicious beginning indeed.

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Yucatec Maya Academic Program Director honored


“”We must change the linguistic landscape of Merida, and the way we understand what it is to Maya.” -Fidencio Briceño Chel

Fidencio Briceño Chel, Academic Director of Yucatec Maya Program, was honored in Mexico for 30 years of work in the preservation and revitalization of Yucatec Maya language by the Merida’s City Hall. In his acceptance speech, Briceño Chel calls upon local government authorities to transform the linguistic landscape of the city to include the Mayan language.

“We must change the linguistic landscape of Merida, and the way we understand what it is to Maya,” Briceño Chel said.

We are so pleased for our colleague. Congratulations, Briceño Chel!

Thank you to our friends at La Jornada Maya, check out the original post here and below.

La Jornada Maya
Sábado 16 de julio, 2016
Foto: Rodrigo Díaz Guzmán
Mérida, Yucatán

Rindió el Ayuntamiento de Mérida un homenaje al escritor maya Fidencio Briceño Chel quien propuso a las autoridades declarar la lengua maya como patrimonio lingüístico y cultural de los meridanos.

En una emotiva ceremonia llevada a cabo la noche del viernes, el lingüista primero improvisó, para dar paso a un extraordinario discurso en los dos idiomas, donde propuso a las autoridades generar nuevos paisajes lingüísticos para que la maya conviva y coincida con otras lenguas, pues ésta “es compleja y completa como cualquier otra”.

“Sería bueno tener en nuestras comunidades y ciudades, la señalética en maya y en español. Hay que cambiar el rostro lingüístico de Mérida y la manera de mirar, entender el ser maya”, afirmó.

El discurso completo de Fidencio Briceño, así como la presentación que realizó el investigador Enrique Martín, las fotos y el video de la ceremonia, serán publicados en la edición del próximo lunes en nuestra edición impresa y digital.

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Yucatec Maya Program featured on | Instituto de Verano Maya Yucateco se mencionado en

Sponsored by the UNC-Duke Consortium, the Yucatec Maya Summer Institute offers beginning, intermediate and advanced level instruction of modern Yucatec Maya. The courses are open to students, faculty, and the public.


See the original post here | Haz clic por el artíulo aquí.

El Palacio Cantón, sede de clases internacionales de lengua maya
El Museo albergará por segundo año consecutivo actividades de ‘The Yucatecan Maya Summer Institute’

yucatec maya

La directora del Palacio Cantón, Giovana Jaspersen García (i) con personal que estará involucrado en la realización de un curso internacional de lengua maya en ese recinto. (Foto Milenio Novedades)

Hoy Miércoles, 15 Jun, 2016 07:0
MÉRIDA, Yuc.- Por segundo año consecutivo, el Museo Regional de Antropología Palacio Cantón será la sede del Instituto de Verano Maya Yucateco, para impartir cursos de maya yucateco moderno a jóvenes americanos.

El Consorcio de Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte en Chapel Hill, la Universidad de Duke y el Programa de Estudios en el Extranjero de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte apoyan el Instituto de Verano Maya Yucateco (The Yucatecan Maya Summer Institute, Kan Báalam Naj) desde hace 24 años, ofreciendo cursos de maya yucateco moderno en los niveles principiante, intermedio y avanzado.

Estos cursos se ofrecen a estudiantes, profesores y especialistas en estudios del área maya, por lo que participan antropólogos, arqueólogos, historiadores, historiadores del arte, lingüistas, literatos, sociólogos, politólogos, psicólogos, biólogos, etc., que estén interesados en estudios en comunidades mayas de la Península de Yucatán, el Norte de Belice y la Bahía de San Francisco, California, en EU, con migrantes mayas yucatecos.

Este verano 2016, las clases dieron inicio este 13 de junio en Chapel Hill, donde por dos semanas los estudiantes del nivel principiante tendrán las bases de la sonoridad y estructura del lenguaje y del pensamiento maya bajo la instrucción del profesor Gerónimo Can Tec y el lingüista David Mora Marín.

Los estudiantes del Nivel intermedio, son aquellos que ya teniendo un nivel más alto de comprensión y habla, viajan a Yucatán, teniendo dos semanas de clases del maya yucateco coloquial. Estas serán impartidas, por segundo año consecutivo, en el Museo Regional de Antropología Palacio Cantón de Mérida, Yucatán, bajo la coordinación del Lingüista Maya Fidencio Briceño Chel, Investigador Adscrito al Centro INAH Yucatán y el Profesor Felipe Castillo Tzec.

Cursos con maya hablantes nativos
Posteriormente los cursos se trasladan a Valladolid y Xocén, Yucatán, donde durante cuatro semanas, los estudiantes serán instruidos totalmente en lengua maya por profesores nativos hablantes, todos ellos capacitados y con experiencia en la docencia y la lingüística maya.

Las clases son complementadas con intercambios con profesionistas maya hablantes, conferencias en maya, visitas guiadas a comunidades y zonas de importancia para la lengua y la cultura mayas.

Este exitoso programa ha permanecido por 24 años capacitando a las últimas generaciones de profesionistas norteamericanos interesados en el área maya con apoyo de instituciones mexicanas como la Uady, la UNAM y el INAH.

Desde el año 2000 la titularidad de los cursos ha estado bajo las órdenes del lingüista, antropólogo e investigador maya Fidencio Briceño Chel, quien desde hace 14 años se ha convertido en el líder y coordinador académico de un grupo de jóvenes mayas que han destacado en la enseñanza de la lengua maya y que ahora son nuestros instructores de base.

La directora del Palacio Cantón, Giovana Jaspersen García, recibió y dio la bienvenida a las jóvenes estudiantes. Comentó que en los últimos años el Museo Palacio Cantón se ha convertido en un excelente marco para recibir al Instituto de Verano Maya Yucateco, incrementando los intercambios académicos de calidad que nos encaminan a nuestro primer cuarto de siglo investigando, enseñando y difundiendo la importancia de la Lengua Maya.

Para el Museo, es de suma importancia el acercamiento con estas actividades, y en este contexto, brinda un espacio de socialización de patrimonio hacia las nuevas generaciones.

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Meet Latin American Studies (LTAM) Alumni

LTAMfeatured alumni_2

The Latin American Studies Undergraduate major (LTAM) provides students with the opportunity to master multiple methodological skills and acquire the language competence through which to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the Latin American and Caribbean experience. In preparing students for public and private sector careers, LTAM alumni have gotten jobs in the U.S. State Department in a number of different Latin American countries, transnational companies that operate in the US and Latin America, and in non-profit organizations that work with migrants in the United States.

We were pleased to sit down with a number of LTAM alumni who are located across the world, from Washington, D.C., to France. Learn more about our featured alumni below, and consider the LTAM major today!

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Congratulations, Dr. Stephen Anderson! UNC Department of Music professor nominated for Latin Grammy Awards



Credit: University Gazette

ISA wishes to congratulate Dr. Stephen Anderson of the UNC Department of Music for his newly published “The Dominican Jazz Project” CD, released by Summit Records. A collaborative project between American and Dominican musicians, the CD offers original fusions of American jazz forms with multiple genres of Dominican music. “The Dominican Jazz Project” has been nominated for the forthcoming Latin Grammy Awards in the categories of “Best New Artist” and “Best Jazz CD.”

Congratulations, Dr. Anderson!

Read the feature from the University Gazette (below) or click here for the online article.

Published April 5, 2016

North, Central America mix it up in Dominican Jazz Project

In March, Summit Records released the Dominican Jazz Project, an international musical collaboration led by Stephen Anderson, pianist, composer and associate professor of jazz and composition in the Department of Music. Here, Anderson shares more about the project.

How did the Dominican Jazz Project come about?

Dominican-born jazz artist Guillo Carias invited me to perform with him and local players for the 2014 Jazzomania Jazz Festival in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, an event hosted by the Quisqueya 96.1 FM jazz radio program. The concert and associated clinic went beautifully, and the drummer, Guy Frómeta, invited me to return to Santo Domingo to perform with him in his group for the Casa de Teatro Jazz Festival a few months later. It was there that I met Sandy Gabriel, tenor saxophonist. Our collective friendship grew further with that experience and, following the festival, we agreed to record together.

What was it like to combine American jazz and the music played in the Dominican Republic?

What intrigued me when I visited the Dominican Republic is that while Dominican musicians are very much at home playing Afro-Cuban/clave-based music, their traditional music also has a variety of other lesser known grooves that are not commonly played in Latin jazz today outside of the Dominican Republic. And while the Dominican piano tumbao patterns sound similar to Cuban montuno patterns [basic rhythms played on the bass, conga or piano], they are constructed differently harmonically and rhythmically. I was also surprised that my Dominican friends were so interested in modern American jazz.

Who wrote the music for this collaborative project?

After returning home, I spent several months deeply researching Dominican music, transcribing various piano tumbao patterns, as well as other traditional grooves, like the Mangulina, Pambiche, Ga-Ga and the Palo. Based on these and other grooves, I composed five new charts for the project, and I invited Sandy Gabriel and Guillo Carias [Dominican trumpet player and bandleader] to submit compositions. Guitarist/singer/songwriter Carlos Luís also composed three pieces.

Tell us about the musicians who joined you for the project.

The Americans in the band, in addition to myself, are Juan Álamo, an assistant professor of music at Carolina, who played congas, and Jeffry Eckels, adjunct jazz bass faculty member at the University of North Texas, who played bass.

The rest of the musicians were my Dominican friends. Guy Frómeta has been playing the drums since he was 5 years old. Guy developed a unique style infused by the culture of New York, influenced by an eclectic mixture of elements from rock and Latin jazz.

Percussionist David Almengod, from Santo Domingo, has performed in dozens of jazz festivals around the world. Aside from his work as a percussionist, he remains active producing music for films and jingles, and he is an active educator in his own percussion school.

Guillo Carias is a well-known trumpet player and bandleader, but for this project, he played the clavietta. That is an instrument that has a musical keyboard on top, and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece that fits into a hole in the side of the instrument. Pressing a key opens a hole, allowing air to flow through a reed.

Sandy Gabriel played tenor and soprano saxophone and composed pieces for the project. His compositions, in some ways, are very similar to the aesthetic that I’ve been developing in the Stephen Anderson Trio recordings in recent years. Though his father gave him his first instruction, Sandy is largely a self-taught saxophonist, having no formal training in school programs.

Guitarist and singer Carlos Luis was born in Havana, Cuba, but moved to the Dominican Republic and has been performing and recording there ever since. I heard Carlos on my first trip to Santo Domingo, when Guillo and his family and I went to dinner at a restaurant. We were seated out back by the pool where Carlos was performing on a small stage. The waiter brought out an enormous plate of beef for us to eat, and I sat completely transfixed as Carlos performed his beautiful com- positions for solo guitar and voice. I could have listened all night. Though I did not have the opportunity to speak to Carlos then, I later determined to invite him to join the Dominican Jazz Project.

How did everyone come together to record the songs?

I invited my Dominican friends to join me as guests for the 2015 UNC Summer Jazz Workshop as performers and coaches, and the recordings we made together in the days that followed (June 22-23, 2015) are featured on this CD.

To find out more about the Dominican Jazz Project, visit

Listen to samples of the music here:


Stephen Anderson is an associate professor in jazz studies and composition and performs and records with the Stephen Anderson Trio. He has released five CDs on the Summit Records label. Anderson’s classical and jazz compositions have been performed by ensembles throughout the United States, including the West Point Military Academy Band and the Dallas Chamber Orchestra. He received two commissions from the Barlow Endowment as well as several teaching awards.

The Dominican Jazz Project was funded primarily by the Chapman Family Faculty Fellowship teaching award he won in fall 2014. Winners of the award receive a semester’s leave as a fellow at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities and a stipend of $10,000. Additional funding for the project came from the College of Arts and Sciences, the American studies and folklore departments, the Center for the Study of the American South, the Department of Music and donor John Powell.

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Associate Director Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz wins 2016 Distinguished Service Award


“Our work was made infinitely better by having the contributions of her voice, her mind, and her spirit on this project.” -CGI Program Officer Jaclyn Gilstrap (pictured left with Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz).

Associate Director Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award Thursday, April 28, 2016 at the Center for Global Initiatives award reception. This award is given by the Center for Global Initiatives to leaders who have demonstrated extraordinary dedication to the center.

Riefkohl Muñiz and Joseph Jordan, Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History Director, were both recognized for their leadership with the Global Take Off: Puerto Rico program, which provided funding for students to participate in an interactive, four-day, faculty-led trip to Puerto Rico over fall break in October 2015. 

Having been recognized for her key role in the Global Take Off program, Program Officer Jaclyn Gilstrap said Riefkohl Muñiz played a key role in connecting the team to contacts at the University of Puerto Rico and other communities in and around San Juan. Gilstrap added Riefkohl Muñiz worked tirelessly to plan a minute by minute schedule that was well-rounded and efficient, but also reflected the ins and outs of Puerto Rican culture, tradition, and history.

“Our work was made infinitely better by having the contributions of her voice, her mind, and her spirit on this project,” Gilstrap said.

We are so excited and proud! Congratulations, Beatriz!

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Director Lou Pérez featured in The News & Observer, “3 ways N.C. industries, farms have room to grow with Cuba”

ISA Director Lou Pérez featured in The News & Observer about what new trade relations with Cuba could mean for North Carolina.

See original post here

U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., was one of nearly 40 lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, who joined President Barack Obama in Cuba. In recent years agricultural specialists and farmers from North Carolina have visited the Organoponico Alamar farm in Havana, Cuba, to study sustainable growing processes. Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama during a meeting in Revolution Palace on Monday. North Carolina Cuba experts say the state has much to gain from the current improvement in relations between the two countries. A sustainable farming delegation, including many North Carolinians, at an agricultural research station in Matanzas, Cuba. A Durham nonprofit, NEEM, organizes regular trips to Cuba for agricultural research purposes. U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., was one of nearly 40 lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, who joined President Barack Obama in Cuba. In recent years agricultural specialists and farmers from North Carolina have visited the Organoponico Alamar farm in Havana, Cuba, to study sustainable growing processes.

Supporters of lifting the U.S.-Cuba trade embargo say North Carolina businesses – particularly those in agricultural, pharmaceutical and travel industries – could see new opportunities if relations with the Caribbean country improve.

But the state needs to move fast, says Louis Perez, director of the Cuba academic program at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

“Everybody is rushing to Cuba,” Perez said. “The longer officials in the state delay, the harder it’s going to be.”

U.S. Rep. David Price says the president is working toward better relations with Cuba which will open up more economic opportunities for American businesses. Price, a Democrat from Raleigh, was one of nearly 40 lawmakers invited to go to Cuba this week with President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama highlighted business and investment opportunities during his two-day visit to the island this week. His message is on point, says U.S. Rep. David Price, a Democrat from Raleigh who was one of nearly 40 lawmakers on the Cuba trip.

“People need to understand their constituents stand to gain here,” Price said in an interview after he returned. “I think the potential on the Cuban side (for economic benefit) is also great.”

Here’s a look at possibilities:

1. Room to grow for N.C. farmers

Though the U.S. has banned most trade with Cuba for more than 50 years, North Carolina agricultural products are exported to the island under exceptions to the U.S. embargo for agricultural and pharmaceuticals – two of North Carolina’s largest industries.

$8.4M estimated export value from N.C. meat producers to Cuba
The state’s agricultural exports to Cuba may be worth nearly $19.6 million already, according to an agricultural economics study from the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University published in 2009. A more recent estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau put the figure at $8.4 million in exports from North Carolina meat producers alone. Other N.C. exports include chicken, turkey, grains and soybeans.

“I have seen in Cuban supermarkets in Havana frozen turkeys from North Carolina,” said Perez, a UNC history professor who has traveled to Cuba extensively over the past 35 years. Perez is an academic expert on Cuban-American relations, history and culture who notes that as tourism grows in Cuba, so will demand for food.

One agricultural professional sees the benefits also flowing the other way. Jeff Ensminger, a chef and the founder of a N.C. nonprofit working on sustainable agriculture, envisions international farming co-operatives.

“There are items that they produce there but we are not able to produce,” Ensminger said, mentioning Cuba’s tropical, warm climate and ample farming land.

Ensminger runs NEEM, an acronym for Natural Environmental Ecological Management and also a reference to the Neem tree. His Durham farm is the largest registered sustainable urban farm in North Carolina. The group organizes regular trips to Cuba and helps local farmers learn about chemical-free growing.

Cuban farmers have mastered sustainable farming, largely out of necessity, Ensminger said. After the fall of the Soviet Union, most farmers could not afford certain farming products like chemical fertilizers. Learning the Cuban methods, he said, can help North Carolina’s small farmers save money and produce stronger crops.

Ensminger says he’s optimistic about Obama’s recent Cuba trip and the chance Congress might lift the embargo.

“Ending the embargo is a freight train that we cannot stop,” he said. “Most of the red states are agricultural states that would love to be doing multimillion trade contracts in Cuba.”

Rep. Price said the end of the embargo “may not be as far off as we think . . . That kind of die-hard, ideological conviction has weakened a good deal.”

Only Congress can lift the trade embargo. Obama has taken other steps, including scaling back some regulations that have prevented many forms of business between the U.S. and Cuba.

Food is not the only point for trade. Timber and raw forestry products are potential exports to a country that needs to expand and repair its infrastructure to draw more tourists, says Linda Andrews, a lobbyist for the state’s Farm Bureau.

Farming equipment manufacturing in Cuba, too, is possible. Earlier this year, a tractor company part-owned by a Raleigh man earned federal government approval to start manufacturing in Cuba – the first American manufacturer allowed to do so in more than 50 years.

2. Academic, medical exchanges possible

University students, faculty and healthcare professionals may also realize new opportunities.

“Cuba has a very advanced culture of medicine,” Perez said. “They are very much involved in developing therapies and vaccinations that are right now very much of interest in the world of pharmaceuticals.”

Already, researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., are working with Cuban counterparts for a new clinical trial in the U.S. for a lung cancer vaccine developed in Cuba. White House officials announced this week the clinical trial would begin this summer.

The University of North Carolina is in the early stage of planning a partnership between its school of health and Cuba’s Ministry of Health, Perez said. Just last week, UNC’s medical school hosted a Cuban physician; the university’s dentistry program is exploring a faculty exchange with Cuban academics.

Currently, there are two UNC students studying at the University of Havana and several graduate students are working on research projects about Cuba.

Price says Cuba has excellent primary health care access, and its medical graduates could help improve access to medical care in the United States through exchanges that would also benefit them with additional training at U.S. schools.

Cuba’s government has invested widely in biotechnology and pharmaceutical development, says Ruben Carbonell, a Cuban-born researcher and chemical engineering professor at N.C. State University.

The country is well-positioned for international health collaborations, Carbonell said in a news release from the university. He noted Cubans have developed numerous infectious disease vaccines, oncology products and treatments for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

3. Charlotte-Havana route in works

Businesses, students, healthcare professionals and tourists interested in Cuba will likely need new ways to reach the country from North Carolina. The market for new sea and air travel, as well as special tours and travel arrangements, presents potential for new businesses in the state, Perez said.

American Airlines just this month applied for permission to fly nonstop from Charlotte to Havana. The airline is proposing once-daily trips from Charlotte on an Airbus A319, which could ferry 144 passengers over the Florida Straits.

Airline officials did not return requests for information about the economic impact of added flights to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. An airport spokeswoman said Charlotte welcomes new business but she did not release estimates of economic gains.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will rule later this year on which airline carriers get routes to Cuba.

New commercial flight options may take business away from charter groups – currently one of the few ways Americans can travel to Cuba – but “there will always be a cohort of travelers who need assistance,” Perez said. Getting around Cuba, finding hotels and communicating outside hubs where English is spoken presents a challenge, he said, for some travelers.

North Carolinians hoping to do business with Cuba should visit and get to know the country, Ensminger said. “Fifty-six years of isolation hasn’t been beneficial to anyone … The only way to really understand Cuba is to go.”

Economic and cultural exchanges between Americans and Cuba, Price said, could be the backbone of better relations.

“Part of it is the prospect of political liberalization in Cuba,” he said. “And the kind of people-to-people relationship that should come naturally between such close neighbors.”

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews


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