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Academic Year 2021-2022: From the Director

We began the Academic Year with full-throated optimism of returning to the old normal. We lurched forward. Two steps forward. Omicron–one step back. Two steps forward. We end this current year with renewed optimism and heightened confidence for successful programming in Academic Year 2022-2023.

During the course of the past Academic Year, ISA has remained resolutely focused on the programming and curricular tasks at hand, resisting distractions in the face of the uncertainties of COVID and amid recurring institutional tumult and uncertainty. The success of program cohesion and the efficacy of planning capacities have remained intact due to the ingenuity–and equanimity–of Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz, Hannah Gill, Joanna Shuett, and Brianna Gilmore.

And in this environment the always-challenging endeavor of Title VI. In fact, much of Academic Year 2021-2022 was dedicated to the preparation of the Department of Education grant proposal, a task that was as all-consuming as it was unending–for months, for everyone. As of this writing, we have not learned of the fate of the Duke-UNC grant proposal.

Almost immediately upon the completion of the Title VI grant proposal, ISA energies turned to the preparation of another grant proposal submitted to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. We are pleased to announce that under the leadership of Hannah Gill and under the auspices of the Latino Migration Project/Building Integrated Communities, the grant proposal was successful!! ISA was recipient to $1.55 million to support collaboration with North Carolina local governments to develop inclusive practices and policies for immigrant residents from Latin America and other under-represented world regions. An additional $2 million from the Blue Cross North Carolina Foundation will go directly to the program’s community-based and local government partners to support their work.

Speaker programming this past year included an in-person presentation by Professor Ana Silva (History) in the Faculty Lecture Series. In the continuing development of the ‘Roots of Central American Migration’ series, ISA hosted zoom presentations by Colonel John McKay, formerly the Naval Attaché in the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, and Professor Aviva Chomsky (History/Salem State University).

ISA collaborative initiatives were sustained with colleagues and programs across the Carolina campus, including Anthropology, Romance Studies, Public Health, Religious Studies, and the Office of Study Abroad. ISA and the Morehead Planetarium collaborated to develop new bilingual programs: ‘Southern Skies: Stories from Latin America/Cielos del Sur: Historias de América Latina,’ featuring a planetarium dome presentation focused on Central and South America science, history, and culture. In collaboration with the Southeastern Conference in Latin American Studies (SECOLAS), the Duke-UNC Consortium sponsored the successful the third annual North Carolina Conference in Latin American Studies in Charlotte. The event registered more than 250 participants presenting in 33 panels and roundtables.

The Consortium Outreach Program was active this past year. The Outreach Program collaborated with the UNC School of Education and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito to organize its Student Teachers Across Regions (STAR) of the Americas Virtual Exchange Program. The Outreach Program also convened the Haiti Teacher Fellows Program to include 11 teachers from Connecticut, North Carolina and Virginia to explore ways to expand the study of Haiti in other relevant course, including classes in French, history, art, media, literature and Latin American studies classes. Outreach also offered five after-school teacher workshops on topics ranging from Afro-Latino Identity through the Arts to Women in the Caribbean. ISA wishes to acknowledge with appreciation the past efforts of Outreach Coordinator Corin Zaragoza, who has assumed a new position at Duke University. We wish her well for continued success.

ISA is delighted to announce the appointment of Juan Alamo (Music) as William Wilson Brown Jr. Term Associate Professor in Latin American Studies, effective January 1, 2022. Congratulations Juan!

All of us at ISA wish colleagues and friends a restful and safe summer . . . .

Lou Pérez
June 2022

The Building Integrated Communities and Institute for the Study of the Americas team in the FedEx Global Education Center. Pictured, from left to right: Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz, Lou Pérez, Hannah Gill, Brianna Gilmore (standing) and Joanna Shuett (seated). (photo by Donn Young)