CLAS: Center for Latin American Studies

News and Highlights

Center for Latin American Studies' Summer Outreach attracts hundreds of participants

August 17, 2011

UM’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) had an active summer outreach program that featured activities as diverse as the history of the Haitian Revolution, digital resources at the UM Cuban Heritage Collection, and China - Latin American relations. 

Students from MDC's Haitian Student Organization contributed to a lively Q&A session

Community outreach has taken center stage this summer at the Center for Latin American Studies and the efforts have paid off by attracting hundreds of participants including students from underserved Miami-Dade Public Schools, college students from various institutions across the United States, faculty from the United States and abroad, and various other community members and local government officials.  Events this summer have included “Toussaint Louverture’s Life and the Haitian Revolution,” “Unlocking the Cuban Heritage Collection: Bringing Cuba Past and Present into the Classroom,” and “The China - Latin America Connection.” These events emphasized knowledge transfer of Latin American and Caribbean themes to those who may not normally be exposed to such subjects. They  were supported by a Department of Education Title-VI grant that established the Miami Consortium, a collaboration between UM’s CLAS and FIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Center, as a National Resource Center for the study of Latin America and the Caribbean.  The Consortium gives special attention to working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and community colleges as well as underrepresented elementary and high school students in South Florida. 

In partnership with the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), the Center for Latin American Studies organized a seminar focused on access to Richter Library materials and the use of digital resources in the classroom.  The seminar was designed as a free training for college and university faculty and attracted educators from institutions such as Miami-Dade College, Florida Memorial University, Texas A&M University, and beyond.

CLACI Executive Director, Carlos Barrezueta, introduces "The China - Latin America Connection"

CLAS also partnered with Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Center for Latin American and Caribbean Initiatives (CLACI) and the Office of Student Life at MDC North Campus to host a day-long outreach event centered around the life of Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution.  The day began with a faculty training seminar that focused on incorporating Haitian Revolution themes into the classroom;  it included presenters from UM and MDC along with Watson Denis, Professor of History and International Relations at Université d'Etat d'Haiti (State University of Haiti).  Individual presentations focused on linguistics and the evolution of Haitian-Creole, special collections at UM and FIU, the history of oppression and revolution in the Caribbean, and the political, social and religious history of Haiti.  Following the faculty seminar, participants were joined by MDC students and over 350 students from surrounding Miami-Dade Public Schools for a screening and Q&A session on the film documentary “Égalité for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution.”  Most of the students were of Haitian descent and came from underserved schools in the North-Miami area.  A lively question and answer period with participation from MDC’s Haitian Student Organization took place before the day ended with a cultural event that included Haitian music and traditional food. 

UM’s CLAS and MDC’s CLACI partnered with the Office of Student Life at MDC North Campus and MDC’s Confucius Institute for a faculty training seminar that reviewed the growing importance of the China-Latin American connection from the perspectives of policy, economics, environment, culture and history.  Gonzalo Paz, professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, along with UM and MDC panelists discussed economic links between China and Latin America, including trade policy and energy collaboration, diplomatic aspects of the relationship , historical and cultural links, and environmental issues in China and Central and South America.  Carlos Barrezueta, Executive Director of MDC’s CLACI, said of the events that “we are delighted to have started this partnership between two venerable Florida institutions. The combination of UM’s extraordinary faculty and MDC’s unparalleled community access made these programs a success.  Hundreds of students benefited from the China Latin America program and Égalité for All event. We look forward to continuing and expanding this mutually beneficial collaboration.”  

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