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Teaching the Unexpected Caribbean

You’re Invited

The University of Kansas Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, a U.S. Department of Education designated National Resource Center, invites you to “Teaching the Unexpected Caribbean,” a professional development workshop open to all K-16 school professionals. This one-day (6 PD) workshop will challenge educators to learn about the unexpected impact of Caribbean cultures and people on the rest of the world, both past and present. In particular, the workshop will foster a deeper comprehension of how the Caribbean connects to the Midwest and how Caribbean art and literature can be incorporated across the disciplines.

The workshop will prepare teachers 1.) to utilize digital humanities resources in the classroom; 2.) to design culturally appropriate primary and secondary research projects; 3.) to teach about Caribbean popular media, art, film, and literature 4.) to teach about social engagement, socio-cultural life, and human agency in the Caribbean; and 5.) to encourage student self-determination through meaningful and relevant cultural projects.

Please, join us on Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. in the Kansas Room, located on the 6th floor in the Kansas Memorial Union at 1301 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS 66045. This workshop is made possible by the U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center grant and organized by the the Association of Caribbean Women Writers & Scholars (ACWWS) and the University of Kansas Institute of Haitian Studies, Center of Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Kansas African Studies Center, Department of African and African American Studies, Department of English, and Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. 

Register by Monday, October 15, 2018 to guarantee your spot. Register here.

Free, All-inclusive

This is a free, all-inclusive workshop. Teachers are provided parking, continental breakfast, refreshments, and a lunch buffet (vegan and vegetarian options will be available) at no cost. Teachers will also receive free copies of The Gospel of Trees by Apricot Irving and The Farming of Bones and Mama’s Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat.

Teachers will be given a guided tour of Ties that Bind: The Art of Ulrick Jean-Pierre from a Comparative Perspective, on display at KU’s Spencer Museum of Art during Fall 2018, by Amanda Martin-Hamon, Assistant Director of K-12 Engagement for the Spencer Museum of Art. The exhibition juxtaposes 12 artworks by Jean-Pierre along with select works from KU’s Mary Lou Vansant Hughes Haitian art collection, including pieces by Rigaud Benoît, Wilson Bigaud, Charles Ermistral (Thialy), Max Gerbier, Edith Stephane.

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Recent natural disasters in the Caribbean such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which demolished island communities in Dominica, St. Maarten/St. Martin, and Barbuda, and devastated parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, have brought a large wave of im/migrants to the U.S. from the Caribbean. News reports have publicized American resistance to these “foreigners,” and those from Puerto Rico in particular, but hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have been traveling back and forth between the island and the mainland for decades, given Puerto Rico’s status as a territory of the United States. In fact, in 2013, more Puertorriqueños resided in the contiguous states than on the island.

Far from being exotic and isolated islands suitable only as tourist destinations or the site of natural disasters, epidemiological crises, and charity work, Caribbean societies have long been integral to U.S. history, economies, and cultural production (as well as the histories, economies, and cultures of England, France, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, and their territories and former colonies).

There are deep Caribbean roots in Kansas’ history. As im/migration from the Caribbean to the Midwest continues, teachers will more often educate students culturally, linguistically, and economically different than themselves. The content of the workshop will aide teachers in being culturally responsive and creating inclusive learning environments.

Part of a National Conference

We’ve designed the workshop to benefit from an art exhibit at the Spencer Museum of Art and The Unexpected Caribbean Symposium, a two-day interdisciplinary conference focused on art, culture, and history of the region, to be held at the University of Kansas Lawrence campus from October 18-20, 2018. 

Workshop participants will attend keynote and plenary lectures by:

  • Apricot Irving, author of The Gospel of Trees (2018)
  • Crystal Andrea Felima, a cultural anthropologist and digital humanist
  • Daryl Cumber Dance, Professor Emerita of English at the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University

The symposium offers Kansans the opportunity to explore the diversity of the Caribbean through a variety of lenses, including through the eyes of Lawrence’s acclaimed native son, Langston Hughes. It will also allow visitors from around the nation to learn about and access the University of Kansas’ Caribbean resources, particularly the significant art holdings and library collections on Haiti and its diasporas. Teachers are more than welcome to attend the broader symposium. Register for the symposium here

Dr. Felima and Dr. Dance, accompanied by subject experts, will return following lunch to share material, and work collaboratively with teachers to create lessons in a variety of subject areas that incorporate Caribbean art, film, literature, folklore, digital archives, history, and more.

Continuing Education Credit

We’re partnering with the University of Kansas School of Education to offer continuing education credit ($65 Registration Fee). Credits are often required to meet state recertification standards, and they are a credential that states your knowledge in a particular subject area and the development of your classroom effectiveness. 1 credit is earned after completion of the workshop and other online activities, including the submission of a lesson plan that incorporates Latin American and Caribbean content. Indicate your interest to enroll on the registration form.


Parking is available close to the workshop location. Find transportation information and Google maps, with Street View, of the closest parking locations here.

Have Questions?

For more information, please contact Aron Muci, KU CLACS Assistant Director, at aron.muci@ku.edu

Workshop Agenda

8:30 a.m.

Registration + Breakfast – Malott Room, Kansas Memorial Union


Arrive early to learn about Global and Area Studies events and resources at the University of Kansas


Network at a national conference of scholars, artists, and researchers focused on the surprising interplay of Caribbean societies and the U.S.


Enjoy a free continental breakfast of fruits, pastries, and refreshments; socialize with colleagues from around the region. Vegan and vegetarian options will be available.

8:45 a.m.

Welcome + Overview

9:00 a.m.

“A Shift in Perspective: On Keeping Our Hearts Open” w/ readings from The Gospel of Trees – Malott Room, Kansas Memorial Union


A keynote lecture and public reading by Apricot Irving, author of The Gospel of Trees


Irving is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship. Her work has appeared in GrantaThis American LifeMORE MagazineOregon Humanitiesand the anthology Best Women’s Travel Writing


The author will shine a spotlight on the challenges of well-meaning missionaries who don’t contemplate the nuanced implications of “help” in the Caribbean.

9:45 a.m.

Break – Meet at Spencer Museum of Art

10:00 a.m.

The Ties that Bind: A Guided Tour of the Spencer Art Museum


Guided tour by Cassandra Messick and Amanda Martin-Hamon



Explore a special exhibition that reveals the deep historical connections between Haiti and the United States through the lens of 20th-century Haitian art.


Tour guides will stimulate conversations about significant themes found in artworks that have defined the relationship between Haiti and the United States, including migration, religion and spirituality, the fight for liberty and freedom, and women as leaders. 


Viewers will learn about key historical moments and figures who have defined the United States, as well as issues that continue to impact residents of both nations, including race, equity, gender, immigration and refugee rights, and the freedom of religious expression.

11:15 a.m.

Break – Meet at Malott Room, Kansas Memorial Union

11:30 a.m.

“Pedagogical Reflections: Critical Digital Scholarship in Haitian Studies” – Malott Room, Kansas Memorial Union


A plenary lecture by Crystal Andrea Felima, PhD, a cultural anthropologist and 2017-2019 CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Caribbean Studies Data Curation for the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida.


This session will focus on digital humanities as a tool to avoid reifying singular narratives of Caribbean peoples and cultures by considering various ways of speaking, writing, and representing the Caribbean.

12:15 p.m.


12:30 p.m.

“The Tried and the New in My Search for Annie Drew, Mother and Muse of Jamaica Kincaid” – Malott Room, Kansas Memorial Union


A plenary lecture by Daryl Cumber Dance, Professor Emerita of English at the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University.


Explore foundational Caribbean literary works that depict life and culture.

1:15 p.m.

Lunch Buffet


Vegan and vegetarian options will be available.

2:00 p.m.


2:15 p.m.

Teaching the Unexpected Caribbean – Kansas Room, Kansas Memorial Union


Facilitated by Crystal Andrea Felima, Daryl Dance, Amanda Martin-Hamon, Rachel Denney, Jennifer Womot, Justin Preddie, Imani Waddud, Nicholas Nachoo.


Scholars and teacher educators from around the state will guide small groups to develop strategies for incorporating Caribbean content into K-16 classrooms.


Learn strategies for incorporating multicultural literature into your classroom.


Using digital humanities resources, learn how to guide students to learn to use digital tools to create a projects that focus on primary and secondary research, data curation, social engagement, socio-cultural life, human agency, and self-determination.

3:35 p.m.

Teacher Presentations (Small Group)

3:50-4:00 p.m.

Closing Remarks + Survey + Resources @ KU

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