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People: 2016 FLAS Fellows

Through support received from the US Department of Education, the LAII is able to offer academic year and summer Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students.

Undergraduate Recipients

Jade Stokes

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Portuguese (Academic Year 2016)

An undergraduate majoring in Spanish and Portuguese, Jade Stokes was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study Portuguese. Jade has a long history working with The Tracking Project, a nonprofit that works in conjunction with native leaders to teach traditional crafts and art forms alongside outdoor skills of observation and survival. In 2007, she graduated from The Tracking Project’s Nurturing the Roots Community Mentor Program (NTR), which aims to train community educators in indigenous knowledge and community revival. Wanting to reinforce what she has learned through further experience, Jade spent three months living in Brasília, which gave her a newfound passion for language learning and a desire to become a facilitator for multilingual communication. Ultimately, she hopes to become a certified interpreter to better promote cultural awareness and preservation.

Graduate Recipients

Jose Almeida

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Quichua (Summer 2016)
Quechua (Academic Year 2016)

A Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology, Jose Almeida was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study Quechua and a Summer 2016 FLAS fellowship to study Quichua in Ecuador. Jose’s life experiences in Ecuador working with indigenous peoples in their communities and collaborating with indigenous political activists motivated him to pursue a Ph.D. in Anthropology at UNM. He focuses on the struggles of Ecuadorian indigenous communities in defense of their natural resources and the involvement of indigenous intellectuals in defining political goals and promoting indigenous mobilizations. Through both his Summer and Academic Year FLAS fellowships, Jose hopes to explore the indigenous perspective on the use and value of natural resources in the highlands and the Amazon regions of Ecuador through the political discourse and actions of indigenous intellectuals.

Chloe Courtney

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Portuguese (Academic Year 2016)

A M.A. student in Art History, Chloe Courtney was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study Portuguese. Chloe’s practice as an art historian explores questions concerning gender, race, and the subaltern, as well as the significance of the body, materiality, and landscape in Modern and Contemporary art. In her own scholarly work, she seeks to trouble conceptions of Latin American art as exotic, fantastic, marginal, or “other,” and instead to locate Latin American artists within their own centers, as well as to understand and draw attention to the strategies of curators and artists who make work or create discursive spaces which delink from Eurocentric perspectives. With these research interests, Chloe is exploring future research in Brazil where artists have a trajectory of theorizing these same concerns. She feels that fluency in Portuguese is crucial to her success at both the M.A. and Ph.D. levels, as well as to her career plans of becoming a university professor and curator of Latin American art.

Alice Donahue

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Portuguese (Summer 2016 & Academic Year 2016)

A M.A. student in Latin American Studies, Alice Donahue was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study Portuguese as well as a Summer 2016 FLAS fellowship to study Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As an undergraduate student at SUNY Geneseo, Alice developed a dedication to and passion for language learning. As a graduate student at UNM, Alice has begun taking courses in Portuguese that focus on both the language and the culture of Brazil. With the study of Portuguese, she aims to pursue a comparative approach to literature in Latin America, while using literary narratives of marginalized or underrepresented peoples as a window into human rights conditions in Brazil. Alice feels that continuing her study of Portuguese is necessary for the advancement of her studies in literature and human rights in Latin America, as well as her future career working with international human rights organizations.

Teresa Drenten

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Quechua (Academic Year 2016)

A dual M.A. student in Latin American Studies and Community and Regional Planning, Teresa Drenten was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study Quechua. Since receiving the 2015-2016 Academic Year FLAS fellowship, Teresa has had the opportunity to submerge herself in the Quechua language while refining her academic and professional skills, gaining more insight into the unique ways language serves as a lens to understand how different communities and cultures navigate their surroundings. Teresa is most interested in facilitating community capacity development in the Andean Region of South America. She believes that her Quechua language skills alongside her area studies will serve as an avenue to connect to communities and individuals on a more profound level. She is actively pursuing opportunities to conduct a practical exercise in Peru over the summer, and will soon have a significant network in Cusco to assist her in completing her proposed oral history workshop.

Kalyn Finnell

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Quechua (Summer 2016 & Academic Year 2016)

A M.A. student in Latin American Studies, Kalyn Finnell was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study Quechua as well as a Summer 2016 FLAS fellowship to study Quechua in Cusco, Peru. Kalyn is particularly interested in working with the creation of indigenous space in cities, so that indigenous traditions and epistemologies can be included in plans of modernity. Kalyn feels that learning Quechua would allow her to more effectively conduct interviews and create stronger pathways of communication, which are vital for community-based planning and development with urban Quechua communities in the city of Lima, Peru. Kalyn hopes that furthering her study of Quechua will help her to realize her long-term goals of working with planning in Quechua communities, and that this goal can be aided by the chance to practice with native speakers over the summer in Peru.

Lauri Gonzalez

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Quechua (Academic Year 2016)

A M.A. student in Latin American Studies, Lauri Gonzalez was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study Quechua. As travel and languages continue to play an important role in her life, Lauri believes that her academic pursuit to learn Quechua is vital to her professional goals of interpreter, translator, and liaison for underrepresented communities in Latin America. Concentrating her focus on Latin American languages, indigenous studies, and urbanism and community development will prepare Lauri for a professional career of facilitation concerning government interaction and community intervention, and the opportunity to learn Quechua will allow her to examine the complexities of culture through language.

Sam Johnson

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Portuguese (Summer 2016 & Academic Year 2016)

A dual M.A. student in Spanish and Portuguese, Sam Johnson was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study Portuguese as well as a 2016 Summer FLAS to study Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Through the courses he is taking this semester, Sam has been able to develop his Portuguese speaking, reading, and writing abilities as he realizes his goal of conceptualizing Latin America more completely through the inclusion of Brazil in his studies. Following his education, Sam wants to foster the creation of immersive language and culture focused international education opportunities in Latin America. He hopes to build programs through a career either as an educator, an international programs officer as a university, at a non-profit such as the Institute of International Affairs, or as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. State Department. Fluency in Portuguese and knowledge of Brazilian culture will enable Sam to create international education opportunities that are culturally, historically, and politically relevant. Through his education, he hopes to provide superior experiences that are immersive linguistically and culturally, through which participants of any profession or academic discipline will benefit on an educational, professional, and personal level.

Jackie Kramer

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Quichua (Summer 2016)

A M.A. student in Latin American Studies, Jackie Kramer was awarded a 2016 Summer FLAS fellowship to study Quichua in Ecuador. Much of Jackie's research has focused on how changes in the Constitution of Ecuador to incorporate the concept of sumak kawsay, the Andean ideology known as "the good life", and including the rights of nature have affected development, resource extraction, policy, community organizing, and environmental consciousness in the country. The program will allow Jackie to learn about and identify local ecology through native language and context. Learning Quichua and having a better basis of local ecology, cosmology, knowledge production, and agriculture is imperative for her research. Jackie’s ultimate research and career goals are to work towards creating a world that both honors Indigenous ways of being, and also engages in development that is sustainable, community-led, and community-oriented.

Nora Lamm

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Portuguese (Academic Year 2016)

A dual M.A. student in Latin American Studies and Community and Regional Planning, Nora Lamm was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study Portuguese. By helping her to gain the critical language skills and regional expertise needed to participate in the policy and planning process in Brazil and throughout the Lusophone world, Nora believes the study of Portuguese would also contribute to her future professional goals of working for the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer or working in Latin America as an urban planner specializing in disaster recovery and resiliency. Nora plans to continue to study Portuguese intensively, gaining not only the language skills, but the cultural, political, and historical knowledge needed to work in Brazil in the future. Because Portuguese is considered a critical language by the State Department, she believes that fluency will greatly contribute to her goal to become a Foreign Service Officer working to maintain strong U.S.-Brazil relations.

Noeshia Roemer

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K'iche' Maya (Academic Year 2016)

A dual M.A. Latin American Studies and J.D. student, Neoshia Roemer was awarded a 2016-2017 Academic Year FLAS fellowship to study K'iche' Maya. As Neoshia's focus at the UNM School of Law is public interest law, she looks to the transnational justice process in Guatemala and how it impacted indigenous groups with regards to migration and cultures of violence, specifically gendered violence and negative impact on reproductive rights. The study if K'iche' Maya allows Neoshia to speak directly with an indigenous group most affected by the war and transition period in Guatemala. Since the 1980s, some of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples have begun to migrate to the United States. There is a need for speakers of indigenous languages to aid with immigration and other legal claims and issues. Neoshia hopes to utilize K'iche' Maya to assist more clients and continue working in the community.

Heather Sands

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K'iche' Maya (Summer 2016)

A Ph.D. student studying Ethnology in the Department of Anthropology, Heather Sands was awarded a 2016 Summer FLAS fellowship to study K'iche' Maya and Kaqchikel in Antigua and Nahualá, Guatemala. Heather seeks to advance her understanding of the historical changes transforming conditions of life for K'iche' Maya speakers as they relate to contemporary cultural and political contexts in Guatemala and the U.S. She believes the study of K'iche' will support her current academic pursuits in becoming a sociocultural anthropologist with a focus on mental health, migration, and border life. Along with her existing experience working with mental health in refugee populations, Heather feels the K'iche' Maya program will provide her with the language proficiency as well as the social, cultural, and political skills to work with child refugees from Guatemala as they receive social services in the United States. Additionally, this training will allow her to conduct her graduate research with this population and thereby characterize and work to address a gap in social service provision in the current migration crisis.