Promoting research among our students has been one of our major goals. For that reason, starting in 2016, the Program decided to increase its funding for students’ academic investigation, raising the LAS Research Grants to a maximum of $4000. This year, an ad-hoc committee selected projects by students Preston Thomas and Naomi Jabouin, who will conduct work in Martinique and Puerto Rico, respectively, over the summer.
Also in keeping with our goal of recognizing the work of students engaged in the study of our field, in 2016 the Program instituted the LAS Public Engagement Award, given to juniors or seniors, majoring in any discipline,who have contributed to the recognition and understanding of Latin America, the Caribbean or their diasporas through exemplary public engagement, meaningful community service or efforts in public education related to their academic work. This year the prize was shared by Bill de la Rosa and Caroline Martínez. Meanwhile, our traditional John Harold Turner Award for academic excellence in LAS was deservedly received by graduating majors Miguel Avilés and Sarah Levy (a former recipient of a LAS Research Grant.)
We were blessed with the enthusiasm and generosity of alum Russ Crandall,whose intention of contributing to the permanent growth of the Program turned into the institution of the Crandall Family Fund, which has more than doubled the Program’s annual budget. The Crandall Family Fund will allow us to organize activities that were almost beyond our reach not long ago, like the upcoming symposium, “Rendering Haitians of Dominican Descent Stateless”, organized by professors Allen Wells and Greg Beckett, which will take place on November 4, 2016.
Our decision to enhance our course offer regarding the Caribbean, the US Latino communities, and Brazil, as well as reinforcing our established relation with Environmental Studies, was met by the creation of courses in those areas, all of them cross-listed with different programs and departments. Just in the last year we were able to offer for the first time courses like Karla Padron’s “Transgender Latina Immigration,” Matthew Goldmark’s “Colonial Latina/o Histories,” Jennifer Baca’s “Latin American Environmental Politics” and “Chile: Democracy and Environment,” and Hanétha Vété-Congolo’s “Francophone Literatures.” This continuous renovation will no doubt keep going in the years ahead.
I want to take this opportunity to bid farewell to or colleague, Professor Enrique Yepes, soon to become Brother Enrique at a Benedictine monastery in Rhode Island. Enrique was my first friend at Bowdoin and one of the two people whooriginally interviewed me for the job in the Winter of 2005, the other being John Turner. In a famous short story, Jorge Luis Borges enumerates the visible and the invisible literary works of an imaginary author, Pierre Menard, whose books are sometimes printed on paper whereas some other times are just a sort of mental, invisible production that Menard considers his most valuable creations. Enrique was one of the founders of the Latin American Studies Program at Bowdoin. This flourishing interdisciplinary intellectual venue might count as the most visible part of the works he leaves behind, here, for us to enjoy while he ventures into a new life of quieter and more soulful adventures. But his invisible legacy at Bowdoin, that of his warmth and his ubiquitous closeness to our students, his always available friendship and advice for colleagues new and old, his thoughtful attitude towards small and no-so-small problems, that invisible part of his work, now that he leaves, is rendered more visible than ever, in the love and respect of all who met and knew him at this campus in the twenty years he was part of our family. Not all will be happiness and solitude and time alone for meditation for him from now on, I warn him, since at least one day I plan to go to Rhode Island and ask him to be the monk that smokes a cigarette with me out in the snow, while I tell him my problems, as I did all these years at Bowdoin, to the deterioration of our lungs and the growth of our friendship. Have a nice life after the nice life you had here, Enrique. I wholeheartedly hope that you, as does another character in another Borges short story, one day find the unknown name of God. If you do, let us know. And be profoundly happy: you deserve it. ---In my last LAS Noticias note as Program Director, I want to thank my colleagues for their continuous collaboration and briefly summarize the changes introduced in LAS over the last three years. One of them is precisely the transformation of this newsletter into a lively medium to communicate with people across the Bowdoin campus and beyond, incorporating articles by students, alumni, and faculty members, to reinvigorate a sense of community among those who are now part of the Program, those who were and those who will be.
Gustavo Faverón Patriau
L.A.S. Program Director