This summer, the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies (CLAIS) at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, the Yale Programs in International Education Resources (PIER) and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at NYU partnered on a summer institute for educators. Titled Colonial Latin America, the institute was available to educators and any member of the general public interested in learning about the latest research on colonialism and modern-day impacts of it in Latin America.
This summer institute, the first-ever collaboration between CLACS Outreach Initiatives, Yale CLAIS, and Yale PIER, consisted of a week-long workshop and an optional week-long trip to the Dominican Republic. Participants then created curricular materials based on what they learned. These curricular materials are now freely available for use via the CLACS website, included in a wide collection of resources for educators around the world who want to enrich their instruction content with more Latin American topics.
Curricular materials developed through this institute include:
– Settlements and Colonial Cities in the Andean Region
– Revisiting the Past: Understanding Identity and Practicing the Past Tenses through Historical Investigation
– Colonial Power and Indigenous Resistance in Art
Teaching Latin America’s migration history in the classroom can be a challenge. The most recent K-12 Educator Conference focused on just this issue, bringing scholars and educators together for a day of learning and exchange.
Two educators participating in the CLACS Teacher Residency Program spoke at the event. David Hanna currently teaches at University Neighborhood High School, and presented on “The Great (Quiet) Migration: Brazil.” Ariela Rothstein is a teacher at East Brooklyn Community High School, and she gave a presentation on “Perspectives on the Cuban Revolution: Social class, equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes before and after the Cuban Revolution.”
CLACS piloted its first Teacher Residency Program in 2010. Through this program, select teachers work closely with NYU faculty members, NYU Bobst Library resources, and CLACS K-12 outreach staff on Latin American research topics. Residents receive expert support, and have the opportunity to develop curricular materials for use in their classrooms.
Early this past December, CLACS and what moves you? hosted a series of two K-12 Educator Workshops which focused on two films from the Indocumentales / Undocumentaries US-Mexico Film Series. The December 5th event included a screening of Farmingville; and the December 14th workshop focused on the film Which Way Home.
The events featured an introduction to CLACS resources for educators about Mexico- U.S. issues, followed by a film screening. Educators then had the opportunity to discuss the issues addressed in the film with colleagues and what moves you? facilitators. These workshops opened a space for educators to discuss current events, and how film can be used to teach Mexico-U.S. relations in the classroom.
Farmingville, a 2004 film by Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini, documents the attempted murders of two Mexican day-laborers in Long Island. The movie features first-hand accounts from residents, day-laborers and activists, and underscores the continuing relevance of undocumented immigrant issues. Which Way Home, a 2009 film by Rebecca Cammisa, focuses on immigrant children from Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico, who must overcome tremendous odds in their journey to the U.S.
These are two of many K-12 events that are part of the CLACS K-12 Outreach Program. Learn more about CLACS K-12 Outreach on the CLACS website. You can also sign-up to our K-12 Outreach email list, which will send you notices only about K-12 educator-related events and programs.
Barbara D’Ambruoso at Parque Colón in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Last summer, in the first ever collaboration between NYU CLACS, Yale PIER, and the Yale Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, CLACS helped organized the Colonial Latin America Summer Institute for educators. The Institute is a series of intensive professional development sessions that serves as a continuing educational training tool for in-service and pre-service educators. The objective of the Summer Institute is to present the best and the latest scholarship on international education to help educators introduce current perspectives on international topics and improve teaching materials for their students. The sessions are led by faculty, graduate students and other expert educators who provide an in-depth understanding of the latest research on teaching international content subjects in schools.
A new element of the 2011 Summer Institute was the production of “classroom-ready” teaching materials, which would be tested in one classroom and then disseminated widely online. By making the materials available on the CLACS website, they can be shared widely, and free of charge, with educators interested in bringing these topics into the classroom.
Altos de Chavón Archeological Museum Director Arlene Alvarez discussing Taino artifacts
While I was in the Dominican Republic last week, I kept running into Columbus. He turned up in colonial museums where the history of his voyages to the island was featured. He was in the lovely plaza next to the cathedral (a statue in his most famous pose) where he now faces the Hard Rock Café. What struck me most notably, however, was that everyone talked about him. In the United States, we only talk about Columbus around Columbus Day, which happens to be a long weekend. (“What are your plans for…?”). If we really think about Columbus, he remains controversial. In Rhode Island, where I live, there is a small statue of Columbus in Providence. It was not erected by the city, however. It is, in fact, on the site of the Italo-American Club. The members wanted to honor a fellow Italian, but the statue cannot compare to the imposing figure of Columbus in Santo Domingo.
On the way to the airport, Israel, my driver, asked me what I had done during my stay in Santo Domingo. Among other things, we talked about visiting the cathedral and the fort in the colonial district, visiting the archeological museums in the Centro León and Altos de Chavón, and having dinner by the water in Boca Chica. Then he asked me if I had visited the Faro de Colón. I had not. He would take me there “to take a picture.” It was very important. I had to see it… on the way to the airport. Israel explained that Columbus had come to Santo Domingo (the island) first. Here the first encounter with indigenous people in the Americas, the Taino, took place. Here were the first fort, the first churches, the first cathedral, the first hospital, the first university… In short, the first European institutions in the Americas. And Santo Domingo was—and is—the first city in America. Thanks to Columbus. He put Santo Domingo on the map (the first map?) of the “New World.” All of the Dominicans I met were proud of this history—and it shows in their monument to Columbus. The Faro de Colón, where twenty-nine of Columbus’ bones are interred, is an enormous structure in the shape of a cross, a “lighthouse” with not one beam, but many beams (visible from space) forming a cross on the sky. I took two pictures.
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 CLAIS – NYU CLACS Summer Educator Institute on Colonial Latin America in July 2011.
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.