Register Now for K-12 Teacher Workshops

The Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt seeks to expand awareness and knowledge of Latin America in K – 16 settings.  CLAS works with the Tennessee Department of Education to award continuing education credit to teachers for their attendance at professional development.

menino-23Dinner and a Movie: Menino 23
Tuesday, February 7                                                  add to calendar 
Join CLAS for Dinner and a Movie to celebrate Black History Month! Enjoy a warm meal while watching Menino 23, a film exploring the enslavement of fifty black and mulato boys in rural Brazil during the 1930s. During that time, local elites in Brazil bought into Nazi and Fascist regimes and even subjected victims to racist experiments. Two of the surviving boys, now in their 80s, share their stories for the first time. CLAS Assistant Director Dr. Nicolette Kostiw will lead a discussion exploring how fascism, Nazism and scientific racism play out in Latin America, as well as possible avenues for classroom application.

clas_face_whiteExploring Latin America through Digital Gaming: Lessons from Second Language Acquisition and Interdisciplinary Approaches (online)
Wednesday, February 8                                         add to calendar
The study of Latin America is relevant and meaningful for all disciplines. Simply put, articulating the cross-curricular connections that exist within the study cultivates learning that is both meaningful and enduring for learners. While these strengths certainly merit the efforts required to plan and execute interdisciplinary content involving Latin America, the execution of this endeavor is complex.  In this webinar, we aim to address this complexity by exploring, evaluating, and experiencing digital games that promote interdisciplinary inquiry related to Latin America. We will discuss research regarding the transformative power of digital games in the world language classroom and how that research relates to other disciplines, and we will dissect various digital games that feature interdisciplinary connections that are relevant to the region.


Numbers and Graphs: Integrating Latin America in Any Classroom
Friday, March 3                                                        add to calendar
Come explore how to implement real-world data from Latin America into any classroom! CLAS is partnering with the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) to bring public opinion data in Latin America to your classroom.  Through years of polling in most of the countries of Latin America, LAPOP has developed a treasure-trove of databases of public opinion information about varying viewpoints across Latin America. LAPOP is the leader in cutting-edge methods and best practices in research on opinions and behaviors with respect to democratic governance, economic well-being, health, security, education, etc. Dr. Mariana Rodriguez will introduce teachers to LAPOP’s methodology, data collection process, and ways to access and bring the data right into your classroom.   Teachers from Hillsboro High School will share how they used LAPOP data to plan and teach a PBL unit on Social Justice in their Spanish, Math, History and Social Studies classrooms.

Math experts and Social Studies teachers alike will find value in LAPOP’s data and discover interdisciplinary ways to bring Latin American content to your classroom!


Afro-Latino/Afro-Francophone Cultural Heritage: Embracing Diversity across Disciplines (online)
Wednesday, March 8                                                         add to calendar
As the diversity of the United States continues to rise, educators’ classrooms are ideal settings for examining diverse perspectives and intersections of identity. With five times as many enslaved Africans being trafficked to Latin America than to U.S. colonies, there are many historical, cultural, social, and economic comparisons between the United States and Latin America.  This webinar provides an overview of how educators can engage all learners through culturally responsive lessons. The presenter will use Afro-Latino/Afro-Francophone research as a bridge to engage diverse learners. This presentation will be multidisciplinary, and will have relevance for all disciplines. Webinar participants will leave with a wealth of resources and ideas to implement the next day.

qrcode-37961893#TechCLAS: Teaching Latin America and World Language Using Technology
Wednesday, April 12                                                       add to calendar
This workshop is designed to teach effective ways to incorporate technology into the world language classroom. The workshop will be taught through the lens of Latin America and participants will participate in a mini lesson designed for a high school level world language class.  Led by members of the CLAS Teacher Advisory board, this workshop will explore various technologies and how to incorporate them into the classroom. The workshop will conclude with time to create a #TechLesson and share ideas with fellow educators. Even the teacher who is uncomfortable with technology will walk away confident and ready to use some tech in class!

Brazil-Flag-Free-Download-Wallpaper-1920x1080Somos Nós: Brazil on the Move
June 19 – 23, 2017
K-16 educators of any discipline and grade-level are welcome to apply to attend this intensive institute. Throughout the week, participants will work together to develop interdisciplinary curricula, which they can bring back to their schools to teach and share with colleagues. The focus of this year’s workshop will be diversity and the environment. Sponsored by The University of Georgia, Vanderbilt University and Tulane University. Hosted this year by The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.

teach-laAdditional Summer 2017 Programs
Many member institutions of the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) also offer national and international summer institutes that are open to, and welcome participation from, teachers across the country. For more information on upcoming national and international summer programs, click here.


Additional FREE Resources for Teachers

La Camioneta Glendale projectCurriculum Resources CLAS offers downloadable lesson plans, multimedia materials and other resources to help teachers incorporate Latin American content into their classrooms. All materials are available to teachers free of charge. Lesson plans, curriculum units and PowerPoint presentations may be downloaded here.


lending libraryLending Library CLAS maintains a comprehensive collection of books, lesson plans, multimedia materials and other resources to help teachers incorporate Latin American content into their classrooms. All materials are available to educators free of charge. To borrow books, films or multimedia materials, please visit the lending library webpage.


Guatemala Culture BoxCulture Boxes CLAS has travelling “culture boxes” filled with cultural artifacts for a hands-on experience for students and teachers.  These boxes are available for check-out and use in classrooms. To see photos and descriptions of the items in these boxes, click here.



Regina Jose Galindo


COMUNIDAD Performance

Regina Jose Galindo
Click to view invitation

Internationally renowned Guatemalan performance artist Regina José Galindo invites the Latinx community of Nashville to join her in the creation of a new performance piece. The creation of “Comunidad” relies on the simple act of coming together in solidarity to experience the power of community.

This powerful community-affirming performance will take place on Saturday, November 12th on the football field of the Vanderbilt Stadium. Participants – hopefully, in the hundreds – should arrive at 10am to meet the artist. A celebratory lunch for all participants will follow.

Please RSVP on Facebook to confirm your spot in the performance piece. We will send you updates and reminders as the big day approaches. Thank you for your interest, participation, and support!

Itinerary of Events:

Wednesday, November 9 Studio VU Lecture, 6:00 p.m., Wilson Hall Room 103
Thursday, November 10 Space 204 Reception, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., E Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center Room 204
Saturday, November 12 “Comunidad” Performance, 10:00 a.m., Vanderbilt Stadium RSVP on Facebook

Regina José Galindo

(b. 1974), an internationally recognized performance artist, Regina José Galindo was born in Guatemala and lives in Guatemala City. Her work explores the universal ethical implications of social injustices especially those related to racial and gender discrimination. She has received major international awards for her body art, including the Golden Lion award at the 2005 Venice Biennale for a young artist under 35, the Grand Prize at the 2011 Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, and a 2011 Prince Claus Award. Her work is included in important collections such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City; the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin, Italy; Daros Latinamerica Collection in Zurich, Switzerland; the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas; MEIAC in Badajoz, Spain; the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in San José, Costa Rica; and the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Galindo is the most widely recognized member of a group of young women poets and artists who, in response to the amnesia of Guatemala’s post-dictatorship culture in the late 1990s, turned to performance art as a means of recovering cultural memory. She composed her signature work ¿Quién puede borrar las huellas? (Who Can Erase the Traces) in protest of General Efraín Rios Montt’s 2003 presidential candidacy. Wearing all black, Galindo walked barefoot from Guatemala’s Constitutional Court to the National Palace, carrying a white basin of bright red human blood.  Every few paces she would dip her feet into the bowl, leaving the trace of her bloody footprints. The eloquent procession testified to the living memory of genocidal war crimes, precariously memorializing the dead left in Ríos Montt’s wake.

In a more recent performance, La Verdad (The Truth), Galindo read from the testimonies of dozens of Maya Ixil women who witnessed atrocities committed by the armed services during the civil war. Seated at a small wooden table with a microphone suspended near her mouth, Galindo read from the translated transcripts of the April 2013 trial charging General Efraín Ríos Montt with acts of genocide. Facing the audience at the Centro Cultural de España in Guatemala City, Galindo’s reading was repeatedly interrupted by a male dentist who crossed the stage to anesthetize her mouth. Her speech, which began resonant with restrained pain, grew increasingly slurred and inaudible over the duration of the seventy-minute performance.


Clarice Lispector Translated: A Conversation with Katrina Dodson

A Conversation with Katrina Dodson, Translator of The Complete StoriesDodson-3

October 10, 2016 — Vanderbilt University proudly presents a conversation between award-winning translator Katrina Dodson and Professor Earl Fitz on Clarice Lispector’s The Complete Stories (New Directions, 2015). From one of the greatest modern writers, these 85 stories are gathered from the nine collections published during Lispector’s lifetime. The collection comprises, for the first time in any language, all the stories that made Lispector a Brazilian legend: from teenagers coming into awareness of their sexual and creative powers to housewives whose lives are shattered by unexpected epiphanies to old people who don’t know what to do with themselves. Lispector’s stories take us through their lives — and ours.

Winner of the PEN Translation Prize and the American Translators Association Lewis Galantière Award, Dodson holds a PhD in comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has appeared in such varied and revered publications as Granta, McSweeney’s, and Two Lines. Moderator Earl Fitz is a Professor of Portuguese and Spanish at Vanderbilt, and has studied Lispector’s work extensively. This promises to be a unique event and will be followed with an exclusive book signing with our guest. This event is sponsored by the Program in Jewish Studies, the English Department, the Center for Latin-American Studies, and the Robert Penn Warren Center at Vanderbilt University.

The conversation will take place on October 24th, 2016 at 7 PM at The Curb Center for Art,
Enterprise and Public Policy in the Workshop Room, located at 1801 Edgehill Avenue in Nashville.
Parking is available at the corner of 18th Avenue South and Edgehill Avenue.
Ben Tran

Praise for Dodson’s translation:
“The Complete Stories is a dangerous book to read quickly or casually because it’s so consistently
delirious. Sentence by sentence, page by page, Lispector is exhilaratingly, arrestingly strange.”
-Terrence Rafferty, New York Times Sunday Book Review
“Thirty-eight years after the Brazilian author’s death, Katrina Dodson translates her work, which
flips a writer’s maxim in making the mundane philosophical.”
“Her early work already reads like the mature productions of most writers. Each story demands such
attention. Lispector never repeats a subject or an approach except to push it further. Moser, in his
introduction, calls her a ‘female Chekhov,’ but Lispector is no one so much as the fullest version
of herself.”
-Joanna Walsh, The National
“Mystic intelligence and charm, perfectly unhinged sensibility.”
-James Yeh, Vice
“You could call Lispector’s stories telegraphs from the flames of hell, but that would discount how
innocent and funny they could be. Manna from the shtetl? Prayers at the high-rise window before
the tranquilizers kick in? You will not be disappointed if you read The Complete Stories. It might
even become your bible.”
– Benjamin Anastas, The New Republic

Social Venture founded by CLAS Director Ted Fischer wins $15,000 prize

Ted Fischer leaning on railingNutriPlus, a social venture founded by Ted Fischer, director of Latin American Studies and professor of anthropology, has won a Stephan Schmidheiny Award from the VIVA Trust in the Social Innovation category. The award, a $15,000 prize to benefit the winning project, recognizes enterprises that have produced significant improvement in people’s lives. More than 500 projects competed this year.

NutriPlus produces a peanut-based pediatric nutrition therapy called Mani+ (MAH’-nee ploos) for the benefit of the 50 percent of Guatemalan children who suffer from malnutrition. “It is an honor to receive this recognition on behalf of all of the students and colleagues who have worked on this project over the years,” said Fischer. “There is far greater demand for our life-saving Mani+ product than we can meet in Guatemala—malnutrition is endemic across large parts of the country. We will use the award money to buy a new mixer and increase our capacity. Every child deserves a fighting chance in life, and Mani+ helps give poor Maya kids in highland Guatemala that chance.”

Mani+ is unique because it’s sourced and produced right in Guatemala. It’s a truly farm-to-table approach that not only addresses a grave humanitarian need for those who consume it but also provides economic opportunities for the farmers and technicians who produce it—and ultimately for the vendors who will sell it.

Mani+ is the result of years of interdisciplinary research by Vanderbilt anthropology, business, nursing, biological sciences and education students and professors. And this year, Mani+ has shared its talent with Vanderbilt in return: Lead nutritionist Miguel Cuj, himself a Maya born in raised in the highlands, began a master’s program in Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt this fall. “We have exposed our students to global health and international experiences working on this project in Guatemala, and it is beautiful that it has also helped us recruit some of the best talent in Guatemala to attend Vanderbilt for their advanced studies,” said Fischer. “This two-way street illustrates the remarkable impact Vanderbilt has had in Guatemala.”

NutriPlus’ cofounder is local philanthropist and music business leader Steve Moore, founder of Middle Tennessee nonprofit The Shalom Foundation and former Country Music Association CEO. The foundation’s Guatemala City headquarters houses Vanderbilt’s Guatemala field office.

The VIVA Trust was founded by Swiss industrialist Stephan Schmidheiny to bring business and philanthropy together to promote sustainability and equality in Latin America through innovation and entrepreneurship.

by Liz Entman | Aug. 23, 2016, 4:03 PM

Media Inquiries:
Liz Entman, (615) 322-NEWS

Read the original article on Research News @ Vanderbilt

VIVA Press release (Spanish)

Brazil Week 2016

Brazil Week Poster 2016

Monday 9/12

Talk by James Wright and Marshall Eakin “Brazil After Dilma”
12:10pm • Buttrick Hall 205

Cheese and Wine Reception to welcome our colleagues from São Paulo
4:30pm • Buttrick Hall Atrium

Tuesday 9/13
Presentation by FIA undergraduate students on Brazil. Lunch will be provided.
12:10pm • Buttrick Hall 123

Futebol Tournament
4:00pm • Currey Law (in front of Wilson Hall)
Teams from around campus compete for the honor and  glory of winning the Brazil Week Cup. Teams form on site.

Wednesday 9/14
Film Screening: “Últimas Conversas” followed by a discussion.
5:00pm • Buttrick Hall 103
The late director Eduardo Coutinho sits down and talks with young Brazilian students in his last documentary. Filmmaker Eduardo Coutinho, 2015, 89mins.

Thursday 9/15
Lecture by Edilza Sotero (Brown University): “Mulheres em Movimento: Women, Displacement and Action in the Flows of the African Diaspora.”
12:10pm • Buttrick Hall 206

Friday 9/16

Churrasco/Brazilian BBQ Dinner
5:00pm • Buttrick Terrace

Capoeira Presentation by Balança Capoeira
6:00pm • Buttrick Terrace

CLAS Welcomes New Faculty – Fall 2016

Jada Benn Torres is assistant professor of anthropology and a molecular anthropologist. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico and comes to Vanderbilt from the University of Notre Dame. In her research, Benn Torres explores the biogeographical ancestry of several communities throughout Caribbean, identifying West African origins and examining the role of admixture in the formation of contemporary African Caribbean populations. Her new project expands this line of research to other populations of African descent in the Caribbean and South America. A second area of her research focuses on women’s health disparities, in which she combines molecular anthropology with molecular epidemiology in order to understand how genetic ancestry and variation may influence the distribution of diseases across populations.

Corey Brady is assistant professor in teaching and learning. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and comes to Peabody from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. Brady develops and designs educational technology, and previously worked in industry, leading the design and development of Texas Instruments’ TI-Navigator system (2001-2006). His current focus is on mathematical and computational modeling, learning environments that foster representational fluency and expressivity, and on activities that promote collaborative and collective learning for classroom groups. A former classroom teacher for middle and high school students, Brady works extensively with teachers to support the implementation of participation-based learning in real classrooms and conducts a number of workshops and presentations in Mexico and Latin America.

Benjamin Legg is our new senior lecturer in Portuguese. Legg received his Ph.D. in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies from Brown University. His research focuses on the presence of the United States in discussions of Brazilian national identity in the twentieth century, as well as questions of gender and sexuality in Brazilian literature, cinema and popular music, Brazilian popular music trends, and discussions of race relations in Brazil.

Noam Lupu is associate professor of political science and the new associate director of LAPOP. Lupu received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University and comes to Vanderbilt from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His interests include comparative political behavior, representation, Latin American politics, political parties and partisanship, and class and inequality. His research examines how contexts condition mass attitudes and behavior, and how these and other factors shape democratic representation. Lupu’s current project examines the effects of inequality, violence, and corruption on political attitudes and voter choice, and inequalities in democratic representation around the world.

Jose Sibaja is associate professor of trumpet in the Blair School of Music. A native of Costa Rica, Sibaja studied at the New World School of the Arts and at the University of Miami in Gilbert Johnson’s studio, and has a passion for both classical and popular music. He has held positions in the Miami Symphony, the Sinfonietta de Caracas, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela, and has performed as soloist with the Springfield Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica. He appears in more than 150 commercial recordings with artists such as Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, and Alejandro Sanz, and has toured with Ricky Martin. As a teacher and clinician, he has been a visiting professor at conservatories in Venezuela, Finland, Singapore, and Poland, and has presented concerts and master classes throughout the world. At Vanderbilt, he will take over the trumpet position in the Blair Brass Quintet and will work closely with Blair’s burgeoning jazz program.

Brent Savoie is instructor in clinical radiology and radiological sciences in the School of Medicine. Savoie is a physician and legal scholar with more than a decade of experience working with rural health programs and conducting health and human rights research in Guatemala. Savoie holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. and M.D. from Vanderbilt. Savoie was the recipient of the prestigious Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship that led him to Guatemala to study rates of pediatric parasites in rural areas, and eventually to found the Primeros Pasos clinic in Quetzaltenango. The clinic serves communities in a region with limited access to health care, and is the site of numerous service learning programs for Vanderbilt undergraduate and professional students. Savoie is the president of the Inter-American Health Alliance (IAHA), and has long collaborated with CLAS on programs in Guatemala in his former role as a regional faculty affiliate.

Pam Muñoz Ryan and Ashley Hope-Pérez win 2016 Américas Award

AmericasAward2016_event-flyer_LCNew York, New York – May 29, 2016 – Pam Muñoz Ryan, author of Echo, and Ashley Hope-Pérez, author of Out of Darkness, win the 2016 Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. The award links the Americas by reaching beyond geographic borders and multicultural-international boundaries, focusing upon cultural heritages within the hemisphere.

Up to two annual book awards are given in recognition of U.S. published works that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. An additional two titles may be recognized as Honorable Mentions, along with a list of Commended Titles. Books are considered for their distinctive literary quality, cultural contextualization, integration of text and illustration, and potential for classroom use.

The announcement was made today by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) during the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) meeting held May 27-30, 2016, in New York, NY.  The award-winning authors will be recognized at a ceremony held September 22, 2016, during Hispanic Heritage Month, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. A teacher workshop will follow the ceremony at Mulebone restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Members of the 2016 Américas Award Selection Committee include Emily Chávez of Durham, NC; Denise Croker of Nashville, TN; Laura Kleinmann of Washington, D.C.; Paula Mason of Waukesha, WI; and Maria Sheldon of Santa Fe, NM.

The awards are administered by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) and coordinated by Vanderbilt University Center for Latin American Studies and Tulane University Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Generous support is also provided by Florida International University, Stanford University, University of Florida, University of New Mexico, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Utah.

CLASP’s mission is to promote all facets of Latin American Studies throughout the world. Its broad range of activities include the encouragement of research activities, funding for professional workshops, advancement of citizen outreach activities, and development of teaching aids for the classroom. For complete annotations of all titles recognized by the Américas Award, as well as curricular resources for previous winning titles, visit  Follow the Américas Award on Facebook at for current news and author highlights, and join the conversation using #AmericasAward16.

For reference, see the press release of this announcement.

Award Winners

Echo written by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Scholastic Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0439874021

Echo, published by Scholastic Press, presents the moving, interwoven stories of three young protagonists who experience the early 20th century’s horrors of war, cruelty, and discrimination. Using music and creativity as a common thread, Muñoz-Ryan deftly ties together what would be an otherwise disconnected set of experiences separated by decades and continents. The resulting novel demonstrates to students that humanity’s similarities outweigh its differences. As committee member Maria Sheldon write, “Muñoz Ryan’s message in Echo sings right off the pages and into students’ imaginations” as the novel invites young readers to experience not only the turmoil of the young character’s lives, but also music’s extraordinary powers to heal, inspire, and connect.

Out of Darkness written by Ashley Hope-Pérez. Carolrhoda Lab, 2015. ISBN: 978-1467742023

Out of Darkness (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), written by Ashley Hope-Pérez, is a book that destroys the reader while at the same time creating a sense of hope, a way out of the darkness. Ashley Hope Pérez has written just such a book. This young adult historical novel Out of Darkness begins with a real event: the explosion of the New London School in East Texas in 1937. Using this tragedy as a centerpiece, a metaphor, and a catalyst, Pérez weaves the fictional stories of two families brought together by forbidden love. Wash Fuller is an educated African American boy successfully navigating the complicated racial divisions of his community. Naomi Smith is a Mexican American girl, terrorized by the sexual advances of her white stepfather, yet compelled to live with him to protect her young twin siblings. This is not a story with a fairy tale ending, but there are moments of great beauty and pure joy as Wash befriends the twins and gradually falls in love with their big sister – all while they are surrounded by the gentle beauty of the East Texas woods. Written for the oldest of teens, Out of Darkness is as violent and cruel as the racially divided world it portrays, yet it also manages to guide readers onto a path out of the unimaginable: speaking truth to lies and writing the stories of those who do not survive.

Honorable Mentions

Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made it from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues written and illustrated by Matt Tavares. Candlewick Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0763668242

While there have been many Dominican baseball players in the major leagues, none have kindled the deep enthusiasm and allegiance in so many fans as pitcher Pedro Martinez. In his book, Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues, Matt Tavares celebrates this larger-than-life baseball hero with meticulous paintings and simple words. Through realistic, almost cinematic paintings that reveal both the panoramic suspense and movement of the game, as well as the intensity as Martinezwinds-up to pitch, Tavares takes us into the world of the Martinez brothers as they make their way from a poor Dominican village into the world of the US Major Leagues. Without his brother Ramón, Tavares lead us to believe, there would be no Pedro. The relationship between the two brothers is the centerpiece of the book: whether throwing rocks at mangos as boys or pitching against each other in a historic game in 1996, the two brothers maintain their deep connection and give each other the strength they need to continue through injury and involuntary trades. Any true baseball fan will be thrilled at the page of Martinez’s stats in the back of the book, and aspiring pitchers will thrill at the visual interpretation of three of his classic pitches. From a small boy watching his big brother play in their village to the star pitcher that led the Red Sox to win the World Series in 2004, Tavares gives us a beautiful portrait of one of baseball’s most prized and beloved players. The book is also available in Spanish. (Grades 2-4)

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. Harry N. Abrams, 2015. ISBN: 978-1419716478

Author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh’s latest work presents an extraordinary blend of biography, art, and politics focusing on the life of José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1915), or Don Lupe, as he was known at the time. Posada is most famous for his socially-conscious depictions of calaveras, the often comic skeletons that are well-associated with Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday celebration. This non-fiction picture book will appeal to a wide range of readers, with its engaging hand-drawn, digitally collaged depictions of Don Lupe, first as a child with a natural talent in drawing, and then throughout his adult life as an artist mastering the craft of lithography. Throughout, we see as Done Lupe continuously pursues his artistic passion while offering social commentary about the world around him. The full-page spreads inspired by Don Lupe’s work actively probe the reader to consider deeper meaning behind his artwork, such as critiques about social class, quickly changing technology, and violence during the Mexican Revolution. This superb work is easily adapted to a variety of classroom settings spanning subject areas such as history, art, and cultural studies. Additionally, Tonatiuh includes a detailed author’s note, glossary of terms, and bibliography for readers interested in diving further into Posada’s work. (Grades 3-6)

Commended Titles

Annotations for these titles available on the CLASP website.

A Handful of Stars written by Cynthia Lord. Scholastic Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0545700276

Dream Things True: A Novel written by Marie Marquardt. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2015. ISBN: 978-1250070456

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2015. ISBN: 978-0544102293

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Edel Rodriguez. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015. ISBN: 978-1481435222

Finding the Music / En pos de la música written by Jennifer Torres and illustrated by Renato Alarcão. Lee & Low Books, 2015. ISBN: 978-0892392919

Island Treasures written by Alma Flor Ada and illustrated by Antonio Martorell and Edel Rodriguez. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015. ISBN: 978-1481429009

Maya’s Blanket / La manta de Maya written by Monica Brown and illustrated by David Diaz. Lee & Low Books, 2015. ISBN: 978-0892392926

My Tata’s Remedies / Los remedios de mi tata written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and illustrated by Antonio Castro L. Cinco Puntos Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-1935955894

Salsa: Un poema para cocinar / A Cooking Poem written by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, and translated by Elisa Amado. Groundwood Books, 2015. ISBN: 978-1554984428

The Jumbies written by Tracey Baptiste. Algonquin Young Readers, 2015. ISBN: 978-1616204143

The Lightning Queen written by Laura Resau. Scholastic Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0545800846

Two White Rabbits written by Jairo Buitrago and illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood Books, 2015. ISBN: 978-1554987412


Keira Philipp-Schnurer
CLASP Outreach Committee Chair
University of New Mexico

Lisa Finelli
Co-Coordinator, Américas Award
Vanderbilt University

Denise Woltering Vargas
Co-Coordinator, Américas Award
Tulane University

Maymester: Field Investigations: Volcanoes, Rainforest, Caves and Beaches in Brazil

maymesterFollow the Maymester course led by Guil Gualda and Malu Jorge where students study Earth and Environmental processes and systems in the field, with an emphasis on field methods. In 2016, the course is held in Brazil, which gives students the opportunity to study a variety of topics in the Earth and Environmental Sciences, including past volcanic activity, surface geomorphology, cave geology, ecology of the rain forest, biological conservation, and human dimensions of conservation.

Reception; Film Screening to Kick-off Somos Nós Educator Institute

All members of the community are warmly invited for welcome drinks to kick off the 2016 Somos Nós: Diverse Brazil summer educator institute.  The reception will be hosted at Vanderbilt University with light appetizers and wine, and will be followed by a film screening of the film Central Station.  This event is free and open to the public.Brazil Institute

Sunday, June 12, 2016
Buttrick Hall, Vanderbilt
5:00pm Reception
5:45pm Film Screening


View the Brazil Institute Website to learn more about the teacher institute and to register!




In Walter Salles’s ”Central Station,” a hit at Sundance and the winner of top honors at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, a cynical, joyless woman crosses paths with a lonely young boy. There’s plenty of room for sentimentality here, but the wonder of Mr. Salles’s film is all in the telling.

Beautifully observed and featuring a bravura performance by the Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro, it gracefully watches these oddly paired characters develop a fractious bond that winds up profoundly changing both of them. Mr. Salles’s background as a documentary filmmaker also gives this lovely, stirring film a strong sense of Brazil’s impoverished rural landscape once its principals take to the road.

Vinicius de Oliveira was a 10-year-old shoeshine boy when he encountered Mr. Salles at an airport and asked the man to help him buy a sandwich. Now he movingly plays the child named Josue who is foisted by fate onto this irascible older woman. Ms. Montenegro’s Dora is a former schoolteacher who earns her living writing letters for the illiterate at the Rio de Janeiro railroad station of the title. She spends all day listening to the heartfelt thoughts of strangers, writes them down and then makes cruel fun of them when she gets home. After joking about the letters with her kinder friend Irene (Marilia Pera of ”Pixote”), Dora never bothers to mail them. Then a letter by Josue’s mother permanently alters Dora’s world.

With suspicious little Josue in tow, the mother dictates a beseeching letter to her absent husband, then leaves the station and is killed by a bus. Suddenly, the boy knows no one and has no place to go. Despite her hardened bitterness and obvious loathing for children, Dora grudgingly takes him home, where Irene finds Josue adorable and is happy to help him. But Dora has other plans; she wants to sell Josue to an adoption racket and effectively trade him in for a new television set.

This scheme subsequently gets Dora into so much trouble that she abruptly decides to leave town. And she agrees to take Josue on a wild goose chase in search of his father, whom the boy says is a carpenter named Jesus. These are the events that send ”Central Station” off into the countryside, and take both these hard-bitten travelers into parts unknown.

Mr. Salles brings great tenderness and surprise to the events that punctuate this odyssey, from the boy’s drunken outburst on a bus to Dora’s shy flirtation with a trucker she meets along the way. By the time the travelers are caught up in a religious pilgrimage, the film has taken on a Felliniesque sense of spiritual discovery just as surely as Ms. Montenegro resembles Giulietta Masina in both feistiness and appearance. Her performance here is superbly modulated as Dora begins rediscovering herself in ways she could never have expected. Though eternally gruff, she finds herself regaining a long-lost faith in life and in the very humanity she scorned when those letter writers came her way.

The film eventually views these strangers’ faces in the rapt, joyous spirit that is the story’s greatest reward and that becomes Dora’s saving grace. And it is the filmmaker’s elegant restraint that makes such sentiments so deeply felt. Mr. Salles directs simply and watchfully, with an eye that seems to penetrate all the characters who are encountered on Dora’s and Josue’s journey. His film is also scored with a gentle piano melody that intensifies its embrace of the world that ”Central Station” sees.