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Earn credit, explore culture in Panama, Jamaica this summer

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Dr. Kinitra Brooks and Dr. Marco Cervantes saw an opportunity. There was a rich culture to explore not very far away from the U.S. mainland. A place few UTSA education abroad experiences visited.


“Few students are aware of the significant differences between American slavery and slavery in the Caribbean,” said Brooks, “This was a system that—out of necessity and its survival—was infinitely more complex in its construction and perpetuation. Students know of cotton but few are aware of the dangers of the sugar, coffee, and fruit plantations.”


Why not create a study abroad course that dug into a topic that many American students never considered in a location they thought they knew?


“I wanted the opportunity for students to experience the distinctive nature of such a mix of cultures—African, Indigenous, and European that was only a short plane ride away,” said Brooks.


The new course creates an opportunity for students who would like to study abroad in a new location; one previously untapped by faculty-led programs.


Abroad UTSA: Caribbean Literature and Culture is cross-listed for multiple disciplines: Mexican-American Studies, English, American Studies, History and Women’s Studies. The course will be taught at UTSA and in Jamaica and Panama in summer 2016.


“We’re excited that Drs. Brooks and Cervantes created a new course that explores the cultural complexities of the Caribbean,” said Dr. René Zenteno, Vice Provost for International Initiatives. “These kinds of education abroad experiences broaden student perspective in ways that cannot be replicated in a U.S. classroom.”


Dr. Cervantes saw a chance for students to do serious reflection about the history of occupation, conquest, colonization and slavery in the Caribbean, and how it affects culture in the Caribbean and beyond, even in the 21st century.


“I hope students will more critically think about ways musical forms from the Caribbean impact music recorded, performed and consumed in San Antonio and Texas such as Tejano, Hip-Hop, reggaeton to name a few,” Cervantes said. 


Abroad UTSA: Caribbean Languages and Literatures is a four-week course that will be taught at UTSA (2 weeks), Panama (1 week), and Jamaica (1 week).  It will explore how the constructions of race, gender, class, sexuality and The Enslaved influence the literatures, theories, folklore, and cultural ways of the Caribbean. Students do not have to speak Spanish to participate.


 â€œWe will walk the land the authors walked while composing the stories,” Brooks explained. “Experience the vistas, food and music that influenced their philosophies. We are also specifically studying the influence of West African philosophies, religions, and metaphysics on the Caribbean.”


Students will learn movement through dancing classes and food culture through a cooking class. The class will look at the idea of religious syncretism—the mix of Christianity and West African traditions by visiting places of worship and learning from the experiences of the folks who live their traditions.


WorldStrides, an international course planning company through the Smithsonian Institute, developed the course with UTSA professors. UTSA will be among the first WorldStrides programs to study in Panama City, Panama.


Brooks says the students will visit plantations to see firsthand how the enslavement of Africans initiated the rich traditions and painful freedom fights that influenced the culture.


“Our study will expand to a study of the how the experience of the African and the ensuing political movements of Negrismo (Hispanophone Caribbean countries) and PanAfricanism (Anglophone Caribbean countries) produced a unique literary experience that also fashioned music, folklore, and religion,” she added.


Brooks hopes students who participate gain an appreciation for the Caribbean, to recognize that the Caribbean is a group of islands —each having distinctive language, music, and cultural traditions.


“And that it began in its current iteration as a workhorse for Europe’s insatiable desire for sugar—by any means necessary,” she added.



View original story here: http://international.utsa.edu/news/earn-credit-explore-culture-in-panama-jamaica-this-summer/ 





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