Category Archives: K-12 Outreach and Education

Yale-NYU K-12 Summer Institute: Migration and Demographic Development of the DR


Professor Andres Navarro, Dept of Urban Planning, UASD

As an educator, when thinking of the Dominican Republic, the faces of my students appear in my mind and images of where they’ve come from in the country begin to illustrate the funds of knowledge they are bringing into my classroom.  Today’s session brought us to Centro de Leon in Santiago, Dominican Republic and focused on the opposite side of the coin:  migration to the Dominican Republic.  Though it focused on the other side of the Dominican experience, it certainly clarified the reasons we’ve had a great migration of Dominicans to the United States in the last half century.  The day began with a presentation by Professor Frank Baez.  He opened up his presentation about migration to the Dominican Republic by outlining three different periods in Dominican history:  1875-1929, 1930-1960, and 1961-present.  During each of the periods there was an apparent fluctuation in the migration of Haitians into the Dominican Republic.  Most notably, during the Trujillo era, 1930-1960, there was a depopulation of Haitians as a result of the Haitian massacre.  What was most compelling about Professor Baez’s presentation was the use of data and how some of the data created more questions rather than clarified ideas.  For example, the censuses cited by many of his graphs were not conducted every ten years.  His presentation, all in all, did resonate with other talks we had experienced this week.  One fact holds true about migration to the Dominican Republic:  it is stimulated by access to cheap labor and exposure to the ‘corporate’ interest of the times.  Professor Andres Navarro’s presentation on the demographic development of the Dominican Republic focused on three key areas of the country that are facing urbanization and destroying the natural habitat.  These areas served as sugar plantations and have recently been converted into zona francas.  This, in turn, has created areas that are densely populated, lack proper infrastructure, and destroy the natural habitat.  More importantly, it focused on how the urbanization of these areas has created unhygienic and dangerous living conditions.  Both of these presentations were clearly intertwined.  Moreover, they underscored the reasons Dominicans have left their native country to live in the United States and other areas of the world.  After spending the day at the Centro de Leon in Santiago, which by the way is a city in which I’ve spent numerous summers of my life, I came to realization that it mirrored the same conundrum that I’ve seen many times.  What costs do our modern day lifestyles truly have on all of our natural resources and ‘developing’ countries?  How are those who are at the other end of the spectrum well informed about their day to day environmental footprints?  Most importantly, how much of a grasp does our Latino youth today have on the historical roots of their native origins and the implications of being ignorant about those roots?  As a global society, how much longer can we ignore the plight of the ‘developing’ countries and neglect their habitats and history in an effort to live in our own world?

Posted by Sydney Valerio — English Teacher at North Rockland High School

Sydney was an educator participant in the Yale University PIER - Yale University CLAISNYU CLACS  Summer Educator Institute on Colonial Latin America in July 2011.

Yale-NYU K-12 Summer Institute: Haiti-DR Relations


Miguel Angel, our guide, discussing syncretism during the tour of the Colonial Zone

I think one of the most controversial days we spent in Santo Domingo was on Friday, July 14th. The activities planned focused on contemporary issues about the Dominican Republic and Haiti, including a panel discussion on contemporary perspectives about Haiti. I was especially looking forward to this event because my research project focused on Dominican-Haitian relations. In some ways, I was very satisfied with the event, and in other ways I was disappointed. However, it was overall an enlightening experience.

The panel consisted of six speakers, including the former Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to Canada and Columbia, The International Project Manager of the United Nations Development Program, the President of the National Emergency Commission and Executive Director of Civil Defense, and several other distinguished individuals.

One of the my first reactions to this panel was surprise at the various organizations dedicated to investigating and improving Dominican-Haitian relations, such as the Dominico-Haitian Global Forum and Batey Relief Alliance (BRA),  of which the former coordinator and current Executive Director, respectively, were present. Their presentations on programs supporting Haitians living in the Dominican Republic opened my eyes to a world of organizations that I would be interested in contributing to in the future.

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Yale-NYU K-12 Summer Institute: Sugar Production in DR


Slave bunker at Boca de Nigua sugar mill

During my trip with the PIER Institute to Santo Domingo, I visited the first two sugar mills constructed in Spanish America.  Touring the sugar mills or ingenios was interesting for me in many ways. The ruins of these ingenios, which show the remains of the socio-economic effects of colonization, have historic importance.  Since my project is on this topic, it was a valuable experience. Miguel Angel, our knowledgeable guide, gave us a tour of the ingenios that stand approximately 500 yards apart and are located about an hour away from the capital.  We drove through several small towns, which were impoverished but colorful, before arriving at the site.  Our colleague Barbara entertained us with her enthusiasm, snapping every possible shot with her camera. We were told to bring insect repellent, but it didn’t help; I was eaten alive by mosquitoes and now, days later, I still feel the effects. It was worth it the visit, however.

The first mill we visited, Ingenio Santa Isable/Boca Nigua, built in 1508 and restored in 1978, is the site of the second major slave revolt on the Spanish part of the island.  It took place in 1796.  One can see where the slaves lived. The second mill ruins we visited, a few hundred yards away, is situated on the River Nigua. Very little of its structure is left, but the canal, which was an integral part of the mill, still stands.  It was the very first sugar mill in Spanish America, built in 1504.

It is fascinating to walk around these sites, imagining and sensing the magnitude of what once was the thriving force of slave labor for sugar production in Latin America, reflecting the socio-economic complexity of colonization. Many slaves lost hands, limbs, even their very lives in the process.  This horrific thought stayed with me long after we departed.  My colleagues and I observed the absence of signs and billboards, anything indicating the site’s importance. It is as if nothing ever happened there.  Travel books list the mills as historical sites of the Colonial period, yet there is little recognition.  Is there no tribute or honor paid to the many workers of African and indigenous descent who contributed to the wealth of the island? One can only wonder.

Posted by Myriam Victoria — Dual language Teacher at PS 24 Dual Language School for International Studies

Myriam was an educator participant in the Yale University PIER - Yale University CLAISNYU CLACS  Summer Educator Institute on Colonial Latin America in July 2011.

Yale-NYU K-12 Summer Institute: The Colonial Period in Santo Domingo


Street sign on the Calle las Damas in the Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo

For my reflection of the visits to the different Taino – Colonial settings and museums, I have to state that as a Dominican student growing up in this country in the late 60’s all of the 70’s, I had limited knowledge of the level of history, the richness and above all, the great significance that 1492 and the century that follow meant to the encounter and development of modern day society in the Americas and the impact on the rest of the world.

Studying the Tainos from a historical, anthropological, sociological, political and humanist   perspectives has allow me to developed a very different and paradoxical view of their way of life, systems, social structure, rituals, and above all – more in accord with the reality of their times and not the romanticize, embellished or infantile view that was presented in my early 8 years of education in the Dominican Republic, or the obligatory week long imposed curriculum of my high school years in suburbia schooling USA – often titled “Celebrating Columbus”.

I live in the Diaspora.  If one wants to learn about one’s history, the best thing to do is to go there.  Sadly enough, I must admit that what sparked my desire to reflect on my history was not my many, many visits to the Dominican Republic, or my newly minted “Cedula” that functions as my ID and gives the background of my dual citizenship.  No.  It pains me to say that even thought as a committed teacher of Spanish and Latin American studies, it was not the hours of preparation to deliver an educational unit that was more than just a celebration, but a critical and thought provoking exposition and discussion of the living history of the real founders of the Pre-Colonial Americas, los indios.

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Participation in PBS Series “Black in Latin America”

CLACS at NYU Prof Ada Ferrer - PBS Black in Latin America

Professor of History and Director of CLACS at NYU, Ada Ferrer participates in the recent PBS series Black in Latin America

PBS recently aired Cuba: The Next Revolution, the second episode of a four-part series titled Black in Latin America. The latest production effort of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this series explores the influence of African descent on Latin America, looking specifically at the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. Enriching the episodes with interviews with scholars, overlooked or underrepresented historical moments, and recent research on the region, Prof. Gates has created a series which “celebrates the massive influence of millions of people of African descent on the history and culture of Latin America and the Caribbean, and considers why and how their contribution is often forgotten or ignored” (PBS website).

Last summer, Professor Gates interviewed Ada Ferrer about ideas of race in Cuba during the mid to late 19th century. This interview has been included in the Cuba: The Next Revolution episode (starts at minute 7:00), and helps describe sentiments toward racism and nationalism in Cuba at the time of the War of Independence. Ada Ferrer is Associate Professor of History at NYU and Director of CLACS, and has written extensively on Cuba. The French translation of her highly acclaimed book Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868-1898 is forthcoming this year.

Among the online resources which accompany the series are curricular materials developed by Karen Michels through the Fall 2010 CLACS Teacher Residency Program.  Part of CLACS’ K-12 Outreach initiatives, the Teacher Residency Program offers NYC teachers the chance to work with NYU professors and access NYU library resources as they investigate a Latin America or Caribbean-related topic of interest to them.  A teacher at the Beacon School in New York City, Karen had proposed to study Race and Government Policy in Revolutionary Cuba while participating in the program.  Prof. Ferrer served as Karen’s principal advisor, offering her intellectual guidance and support throughout Karen’s time on the NYU campus.  While Karen’s lesson ideas can be found on the CLACS website along with other K-12 curricular materials, they have also been included on the PBS website as educational resources which complement the Race in Latin America series.

Watch the Full Episode: Cuba: The Next Revolution
View Race and Government Policy in Revolutionary Cuba curricular materials

Posted by Christine Mladic – Program Administrator at CLACS at NYU

Follow-Up Workshop on Gender Equality

K-12 Educator Workshop - Unicef CLACS

Erin Murphy-Graham is an Assistant Professor in the Steinhardt School of NYU and affiliated faculty member of CLACS

On March 30th, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Education Department, with support from CLACS, the New York State Spanish Bilingual Education Technical Assistance Center (BETAC) at NYU, and the New York State Haitian BETAC  presented a follow-up workshop to the March 8th event titled “Teach UNICEF: Exploring Gender Equality through Global Education.”

Participants returned to UNICEF to continue discussions about ways in which the topic of gender equality could be incorporated into classroom activities for English Language Learners (ELLs). Teachers reviewed the TeachUNICEF website where readily accessible lesson plans, photo essays and videos can be downloaded for use in the classroom.

The workshop included a keynote speech by Professor Erin Murphy Graham, Assistant Professor of International Education at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Her lecture began with an overview of her ongoing work with a mixed-methods impact evaluation of the alternative secondary education program Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (Tutorial Learning System) in Honduras. She then opened a discussion that explored gender norms, discrepancies between men and women in positions of political power around the world, and portrayals of women in mainstream media. The day ended with a strong commitment by teacher participants to introduce themes of gender equality into lessons to address these issues with kids at an early age.

If you are interested in participating in K-12 Educator events such as this one, please sign up to receive email alerts for K-12 events via the CLACS website.

Teaching Gender Equality in a Global Classroom

K-12 Educator Workshop - CLACS-Unicef

Left to right: Jen Lewis (CLACS), David Donaldson (U.S. Fund for UNICEF), Gail Slater (Spanish BETAC), Nicole Rosefort (Haitian BETAC), and Tara Broughel (U.S. Fund for UNICEF).

On March 8th, International Women’s Day, CLACS coordinated with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Education Department, the New York State Spanish Bilingual Education Technical Assistance Center (BETAC) at NYU, and and the New York State Haitian BETAC   to present the workshop “Teach UNICEF: Exploring Gender Equality through Global Education.”  The participants, mainly English Language Learning (ELL) teachers of social studies and ESL teachers, discussed the unique contributions of ELL students to classroom discussions of global history and also how best to incorporate global themes and events into the classroom and curriculum. The discussion then focused on teaching about gender through an examination of several topics such as maternal health, education and marriage.  Unicef hosts a number of gender-related curricular materials on its website, free for download and usage in the classroom.

The workshop concluded with a discussion of how teachers would use the TeachUnicef resources in their specific classrooms. Teachers planned to discuss their progress during the next workshop, which is scheduled for March 30, 2011.

If you are interested in participating in K-12 Educator events such as this one, please sign up to receive email alerts for K-12 events via the CLACS website.  Learn more about the K-12 Educator Workshop by reading an article on Unicef’s Field Notes website.

Teaching the Cold War and Latin America in a High School Classroom

K-12 Educator Conference Cold War CLACSOn Monday January 31st, the CLACS Teacher Residency Program hosted the conference “Teaching the Cold War and Latin America in a High School Classroom.” The conference, held during a New York City Board of Education Professional Development day, was attended by public school teachers from over 25 schools across the metropolitan area.

The day’s events were opened by Greg Grandin, a well-known Latin American historian and professor in the Department of History at NYU.  Grandin is also the author of the recent prize-winning book Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City. Professor Grandin gave the keynote presentation of the conference, providing a sweeping overview of the importance of Latin America in the Cold War and setting the foundation for the days more specific presentations.

The conference was the culminating event of the CLACS K-12 Residency Program, an effort to connect recent scholarship on Latin America with materials development applicable for K-12 classrooms. The three Residents, who had been researching topics related to the Cold War for a period of 3 months, each presented the curricular materials they had produced while in the program.

Rachel McCormick , a Spanish teacher at the Bronx Leadership Academy High School, presented a workshop titled “Media Representations of the Civil War in El Salvador.”  McCormick’s presentation outlined several classroom activities, including one in which students walk around and silently write reactions next to a series of black and white photos of El Salvador during the conflict.

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Teaching Through the Arts


Students are inspired by Native American Storyteller Dolls

Over the last 4 years, CLACS has developed a strong partnership with the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Together we have organized comprehensive K-12 professional development programming which brings together pedagogy training for educators and Latin America and Caribbean-related content for use in New York City classrooms. Specifically, CLACS partners closely with the New York State Spanish Bilingual Education Technical Assistance Center (SBETAC) to support educators working with English language learners (ELLs), Spanish speaking students, ESL students, and students attending bilingual schools.

CLACS and SBETAC have also connected with organizations across New York City such as The New York Times, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF TeachUnicef Program, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) K-12 program  to offer professional development workshops for K-12 educators.

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Launching of the K-12 Teacher Residency Program

Rachel McCormick - Havana Cuba

Rachel McCormick, participant of the CLACS Teacher Residency program, in Havana, Cuba

In September 2010, as part of its K-12 Outreach initiatives, CLACS launched the Teacher Residency Program. The Residency Program is structured, in part, on feedback from NYC teachers who have emphasized the need for more individualized support to develop their own teaching resources on Latin America. As part of their applications, teachers submitted individual research proposals under the overarching theme of Latin America and the Cold War. Accepted applicants have been matched with appropriate NYU faculty, who will serve as their advisors. Participants have also been provided with an orientation and granted access to NYU’s Bobst library and its resources.

Selected Teacher Residents for the 2010/2011 Teacher Residency Program are Karen Michels and Lev Moscow, from the Beacon School, and Rachel McCormick, from the Bronx Leadership Academy. Residents, who are also supported by CLACS administrative staff and and graduate students at the Steinhardt School of Education, are expected to produce teaching materials by late December which will then be included in the curricular materials housed on the CLACS website.

All residents will present their materials in the upcoming K-12 educator conference titled Teaching the Cold War and Latin America in a High School Classroom, which is scheduled to take place on January 31, 2011, coinciding with a Professional Development Day for NYC public school teachers.