2013-2014 shows the MALAS program with a strong and diverse array of students. Among these students is Samuel Johnson (MALAS '14), whose concentrations are History and Spanish American Literature. As one of the students who reorganized the Student Organization for Latin American Studies (SOLAS), Sam has imparted new energy into both the returning and new Latin American Studies cohorts.
As a history and Spanish double major at Aquinas College, Sam participated in two study abroad programs, spending one semester in Spain and another in Costa Rica. During his time in Costa Rica, Sam travelled through Central America, visiting Nicaragua and Panama. After graduating, Sam worked as a Spanish-English interpreter in both the medical field and for an elementary school in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Sam is now a second year master's student continuing his education with concentrations in Latin American History and Spanish American Literature. Sam is interested in using literature and cinema to analyze citizenship and urban life in Latin America's largest cities, with a comparative focus on Brazil and Mexico. Additionally, his historical interests are in indigeneity, social movements, and labor history across Latin America.
As a graduate assistant, Sam helps to facilitate the expansion of the LAII's international activities and involvement on campus. Last year he helped organize a faculty-led program in Ecuador which emphasized Ecuador's unique ecology, indigenous operated and sustainable tourism, and folkloric community celebrations such as the Moros y Cristianos festival of Gualiceo. In addition to providing undergraduate and graduate students with an opportunity to learn about Ecuador in the field, the trip also served as a preliminary venture of the LAII's rapidly growing network of contacts and programs in Ecuador. Sam is also the current president of the Student Organization for Latin American Studies (SOLAS). Sam and the rest of the SOLAS team are in the process of restructuring the organization with the goal of strengthening a sense of community among Latin Americanists at UNM through the implementation of a new webpage, social activities, and the annual Sin Fronteras Film Festival. Utilizing the new, interactive, online presence SOLAS seeks to encourage discussion by providing an online meeting place for students from the LAII and other departments on campus while also promoting academics, activism, and social activities related to Latin America.
Image: Provided courtesy of Samuel Johnson.
--Printed Monday, September 30, 2013.