CLACS Summer Grant Recipients

Summer08_Grant_Spain_Jelena_Kopanja.jpgPhoto by Jelena Kopanja in 2008 while in Spain on a CLACS summer grant

CLACS is excited to announce the recipients of this year’s Summer Research Grant competition.
Pending funding, The NYU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies offers an annual competition for summer research grants. Graduate students in all NYU schools and programs may apply for assistance with summer research in Latin America and the Caribbean for periods ranging from two to twelve weeks. M.A. candidates may research master’s theses or Major Projects; Ph.D. students may carry out preliminary research for dissertations.
The following students come from a range of departments across NYU, and we are pleased to be able to support their research projects in the countries listed. You can find more information on the CLACS website. Please stay tuned to the CLACS blog, as summer research grant winners will be contributing stories from the field. Congratulations!

Name Country
Vanessa Agard Jones Martinique
Magali Armillas-Tiseyra Argentina
Bruna Charifker Brazil
Ben Cokelet Mexico
Lily DeFriend Argentina
Amarilys Estrella Dominican Republic
Mari Hayman Uruguay
Micaela Kramer Brazil
Amy Lasater Peru
Marina Libel Brazil
Hyejin Nah Chile
Claudia Salazar Peru
Martin Sivak Argentina
Carmen Soliz Bolivia
Diana Van der Jagt Costa Rica
Violeta Vazquez-Rojas Mexico
Christine Weible Argentina
Jerusha Westbury Mexico
Natan Zeichner Brazil

Jen Lewis
Assistant Director and Outreach Coordinator, CLACS

Queens Colombian Fights Drug Trade and Saves Lives

jordan_040309.jpgDon Orlando Tobón at his travel agency in Jackson Heights, Queens. Photo by Jordan Cooper

“Fírmate aquí,” or “sign here,” Don Orlando Tobón demands.
He slips a stack of papers between the metal jaws of a stapler and swiftly strokes the device with the heel of his clenched fist.
“This is what you put in the mail.” He shakes a manila envelope in his left hand, glaring out over a pair of spectacles resting decidedly lopsided at the end of his nose.
His lower lip juts out and he licks his thumb. His tongue flicks the side of his mouth.
Again he strikes the stapler like a judge who bangs his gavel at the end of a hearing.
His fingers are stubby and wide but they work with the kind of certainty and conviction inherited only through thousands of repetitions. “And this…”—he adroitly stuffs a second package—“…is what you bring with you to the office.”
He passes the materials across the desk to a Colombian couple grinning with satisfaction.
They have just done their taxes.
But to meet the sixty-year-old Tobón under such ordinary circumstances reveals very little of his remarkable life outside of work.

Continue reading “Queens Colombian Fights Drug Trade and Saves Lives”

The Quagmire in Mexico


August 4, 2008 — Members of the Washington State Cannabis Eradication Response Team (CERT), shortly before discovering over 5,600 marijuana plants being grown by a group of Mexican nationals (DEA). Photo courtesy of DEA
In his first Internet town hall meeting, Obama was asked if the U.S. should legalize pot as a way to grow jobs and stimulate the economy.
Obama responded: “I don’t know what this says about the online audience, but, no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow the economy.”
Now of course he has to say this. His risk of alienating a large portion of the country and losing all support from the proverbial “aisles” is far too great for such a radical idea. But what if the question included avoiding US involvement in the Mexican drug war? Are we going to wait until our politicians, judges and law enforcement officials are infiltrated by the Mexican traffickers before we even consider a novel approach to a problem we have been throwing money and guns at (unsuccessfully) for years?

Continue reading “The Quagmire in Mexico”

Quechua Courses at NYU

Quechua at CLACS at NYULast fall, 2008, NYU offered its first Quechua class. About 12 of us met three times a week with Odi Gonzales of Cusco, Peru. Like the beginning of learning any new language, we struggled through the first few weeks, battling knee-knocking waves of frustration, surprise, success and total confusion. Now in our second semester, we may not quite yet be able to rock out in Quechua, but we can carry on simple conversations and make some jokes.

Quechua is an indigenous language spoken by an estimated 10,000,000 people in South America. Although it has a major presence in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador (Quichua), there are also Quechua speakers in parts of Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Quechua existed before the Spanish arrived in South America in the early 16th century, and it existed before the Incan empire of the 1400s established Quechua as its official language of the state. Because of its co-existence with Spanish for about 500 years, and because of the changes in the world that have occurred over the centuries, some words are not translatable into Quechua; rather in certain contexts they are spoken in Spanish.

The US Department of Education allocates funds to CLACS at NYU so that Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships can be offered to students. FLAS Fellowships are awarded separately for both annual year and summer study. Quechua is one of the languages offered at NYU that is eligible for FLAS Fellowships. Visit the CLACS FLAS Fellowship webpage for more information.

Christine Mladic is an MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU