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: http://migration.unc.edu/2015/02/03/new-release-summit-report/

Media contact: Katie Bowler Young, director of global relations, UNC Global, +1.919.962.4504, kby@unc.edu

Latino Migration Project contact: Hannah Gill, Hannah Gill, project director, +1.919.962.5453, hgill@email.unc.edu

- See more at: http://global.unc.edu/news/latino-migration-project-issues-report-on-immigrant-integration-in-north-carolina/#sthash.CEKARp1m.dpuf

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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 Newsday.com. 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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PhD Candidate Vergel-Tovar Presents at Transforming Transportation Conference

erikvergalPhD Candidate Erik Vergel-Tovar was selected as a recipient of the 2014 Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship for Sustainable Transport and Energy Efficiency. As a scholar, he’s conducted research on bus rapid transit (BRT) and the built environment in Latin America. He revealed his findings for the first time at the Transforming Transportation conference, which brings together innovative ideas for how cities can transform mobility, in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations, Erik!

Click the links below to learn more about Vergel-Tovar’s findings and the conference.

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Don’t miss it! Global Research Institute Spring 2015 Water Speaker Series 1: Sterling Evans

sterlingDamming Sonora: Water, Agriculture, and Environmental Change in Northwest Mexico

Sterling Evans, Louise Welsh Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of History, University of Oklahoma

February 24, 2014  ~  5:30pm

Room 4003 ~ FedEx Global Education Center

This presentation seeks to explore the water history of Sonora, Mexico (just south of Arizona). Every river in the state has been dammed, some more than once. The result is that Sonora, characterized by some of North America’s harshest deserts, is now the most agriculturally productive region of Mexico via intensive irrigation made possible by the dams. Along the way there have been serious social and environmental consequences, all of which are significant aspects of damming Sonora.


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Doctoral Student Explores Personal, Political Dimensions of Violence in Colombia

From UNC Global

When Diana Marcela Gómez Correal considers the role of victims and the disempowered in political and social movements, she isn’t merely pursuing an academic question. Gómez Correal’s father, a local politician in Colombia, was forcibly disappeared in 2006. Despite her own efforts and the efforts of friends and family, no one knows what precisely happened to her father, though they claim his disappearance was politically motivated.

Today she is at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a member of the Royster Society of Fellows working on a doctorate in cultural anthropology, and she continues to raise her voice against the violence in Colombia.

“I need to make the Colombian situation visible,” she says. Gómez Correal describes her country as “a beautiful place where thousands of people struggle every day to create a better society, a society where men and women can live in peace with dignity.”

However, Colombia is also notorious for violence perpetrated by drug traffickers, paramilitary groups, guerrilla forces and the armed forces. Gómez Correal has fled to the U.S. multiple times to escape personal threats and violence and to extend her studies.

Gómez Correal completed a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in history at the National University in Bogotá, Colombia. Her master’s thesis analyzed the rise and development of second wave feminism in Bogotá in 1970-1991 and she has since published a book on the topic, Dinámicas del movimiento feminist bogotano. Historias de cuarto, salon y calle. Historias de vida (1970-1991) [Dynamics of the Bogota Feminist Movement. Histories from the Bedroom, Meeting Room and the Street. Histories of Life (1970-1991)]. She will graduate from UNC in August 2015.

Gómez Correal chose UNC because of the presence of scholars and an intellectual community interested in her areas of study.

Listen NowDuring her first semester she took a course with Arturo Escobar about political ecology that helped deepen her intellectual positions. She reports that other courses have nurtured a critical and constructive perspective, including courses taught by Dorothy Holland, Christopher Nelson, Margaret Wiener, Silvia Tomášková and Escobar at UNC and by Walter Mignolo and Catherine Walsh at Duke. She particularly connected with the course “Indigenous Literatures and Cultures of the Americas,” taught by Emilio del Valle Escalante, which allowed her to connect her theoretical and activist interest with literature and arts.

During and after the search for her father, Gómez Correal remained politically active in Colombia. “I want to know how the identity of victims is constructed and how their subjectivity changes,” she says. “My doctoral dissertation examines the role of emotions in the mobilization of victims of the state and paramilitary violence in Colombia,” she explains.

Gómez Correal believes that her research will be helpful to those who are trying to find their own power and build social movements that stand against violence. She plans to go back to Colombia, and urges U.S. citizens to consider their role in power imbalances at home and abroad.

Contributors: Shannon Harvey, Joe Mosnier, Jon Outlaw, Ingrid Smith, Cindy Scott Traeger, Madeline Vann, and Katie Bowler Young

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The Art of Transformation: A Workshop for Educators on the Migration of People, Things, and Dreams between Guatemala and the U.S.

We are pleased to announce an upcoming workshop:
The Art of Transformation:
A Workshop for Educators on the Migration of 
People, Things, and Dreams between Guatemala and the U.S.
Featuring Filmmaker Mark Kendall, 
Producer and Director of La Camioneta
Saturday, February 14, 2015
10:00 am – 4:30 pm
UNC-Chapel Hill
This workshop will provide educators with a day of learning, reflection and curriculum development about various aspects of life in Mexico and Guatemala. Participants will receive a curriculum and resource guide that includes the classroom units and activities presented during the workshop. See details on all workshop sessions below.
This workshop is free and open to educators of all grades and levels. Spaces are available for 35 people on a first come, first served basis. Lunch will be provided.
Questions? Contact Outreach Program Coordinator Emily Chávez at emily.chavez@duke.edu.
This workshop is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

SESSION 1 – Connecting the Americas Curriculum: New Perspectives on Mexico for the Classroom
This session will feature presentations of curriculum units developed by NC teachers who participated in the 2014 Connecting the Americas Study Tour to Yucatán, Mexico. These units focus on various topics related to Maya history, culture, and language.  These educators will teach their newly developed curriculum in their language arts, social studies, and science classes this school year and by the spring, these lessons will be available online for educators everywhere.
SESSION 2 – La Camioneta Film Screening and Discussion with Filmmaker Mark Kendall
La Camioneta tells the story of a decommissioned school bus from the U.S. that is taken to Guatemala to find a new owner and the often dangerous, and, at times, deeply satisfying, experiences of the people who carry it on its way. In the U.S. the school bus is an icon of childhood; in Guatemala it is transformed into a source of regional transportation, likely to be painted in bright colors and distinct designs. This film and the discussion with the filmmaker following it invite viewers to see their own home and culture as part of a larger geographical, historical and cultural context. La Camioneta is a story about both continuity and transformation, a story about how people’s lives are interwoven. It prompts its viewers to look at familiar objects in a new light and consider the different meanings one can have depending on context. The film invites people to make linkages with history, raise questions about art’s purpose, and develop language to explore different values and viewpoints. Furthermore, not only the content but also the form of the storytelling provides opportunities to explore the way we communicate and produce art and knowledge.
Mark Kendall‘s directing credits include the Student Academy Award-nominated short The Time Machine and La Camioneta, his award-winning debut feature documentary that follows the transformative journey of a decomissioned school bus and marked him as “a name to watch” in Variety. His work has screened at the National Gallery of Art, the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and film festivals such as SXSW, SANFIC, Los Angeles, Guadalajara, and Havana. Kendall is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, a Sundance Institute Fellow, an IFP & Film Society of Lincoln Center “Emerging Visions” Fellow, and a Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellow. His work was recognized with an award from the International Documentary Association (IDA) and has received additional support from the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Jerome Foundation, and the SVA Alumni Society. Kendall earned a B.A in Anthropology and an M.A in Latin American Studies from Vanderbilt University, as well as an M.F.A in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts. He currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
SESSION 3 – Using La Camioneta in the Classroom: Curriculum Development with Mark Kendall
In the final session of the workshop Mark Kendall will speak with teachers about using the film as a teaching tool. Participants will will explore ways to use the Film Discussion Guide created by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies, as well as classroom activities created by UNC-Duke Consortium’s Educational Outreach Program.  This will be an opportunity for educators to gain new pedagogical resources and ideas, collaborate, and develop curriculum appropriate to their individual classroom.
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