For the past seven years, the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies (LACS) has led the charge in the University of Michigan–University of Puerto Rico Outreach Collaboration, a program with the goal of providing opportunities to globalize middle and high school level curriculum. U-M students, staff, and faculty traveled to San Juan for the last in-person event of this program in March of 2020, where an audience of Puerto Rican middle and high school teachers attended a conference consisting of pedagogical workshops, lectures, and professional development opportunities. In years prior, teachers from Puerto Rico have come to Michigan for these collaborative projects as well. 

“Obviously, this year we are not able to do that,” LACS Program Manager Alana Rodriguez relayed to the attendees of the virtual launch party on July 6 for this year’s reimagining of the program: The Summer 2021 Curriculum Design Program focusing on Global Health. Like countless other efforts in the II, the usual in-person convening of this year’s  U-M/UPR program has shifted to a virtual sphere, which, combined with a theme that cuts across multiple schools, has found a silver lining of being “the largest and most interdisciplinary cohort of graduate students yet”. The U-M cohort consists of 17 graduate students from the social sciences, School of Social Work, School of Nursing, School of Public Health, School of Medicine, and the II.

Alana Rodriguez, Program Manager, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, talks about the Michigan –Puerto Rico Curriculum Development Program on July 6 over Zoom.

The U-M/UPR Summer 2021 Curriculum Design Program will pair two or three U-M graduate students with one PR teacher to create and globalize a lesson plan focusing on a topic around global health that the teacher would like to incorporate into their curriculum this coming academic year. In addition to providing their research skills and resources to the teachers, the U-M students will also be recording a 10-15 min pedagogical talk on their area of expertise. The teams will be meeting and designing their lesson plans together throughout the month of July, with the program culminating in a virtual event to be held in Spanish on August 7, 2021. There, the teachers will have the opportunity to present their lessons as they will do so to their incoming students.

Attendees of the July 6 virtual introduction to the U-M/UPR Summer 2021 Curriculum Design Program
Darin Stockdill, Instructional and Program Design Coordinator for CEDER, gives a presentation on the purpose of the U-M/UPR Program and how to structure an engaging lesson plan.

On top of being interdisciplinary educators and researchers, this cohort is also full of musicians, dancers, and singers. Before diving into how to create engaging lesson plans at the virtual introduction of the program, Darin Stockdill, Instructional and Program Design Coordinator for CEDER, asked participants to introduce themselves and to include something important to who they are outside of their titles. “After hearing about everyone’s interests, it seems like a singing and dancing party would have been quite enjoyable for us all, so hopefully that can happen soon!” Alana announced before closing out the event.

This year's program is dedicated to Dr. Juan R. Hernández García.

This Summer 2021 program is dedicated to the co-founder of the U-M/UPR Collaborative Project, Dr. Juan R. Hernández García, who unexpectedly passed away in February of this year. Professor Hernández had ties to both institutions as a Professor of history at the University of Puerto Rico and an alumnus of the University of Michigan, having received his Ph.D. in history from there in 2007. The program and subsequent community it fosters would not exist without him, and though it is difficult to continue the program without Professor Hernández on both personal and professional levels, LACS and its collaborative partners are keeping his memory close in dedicating their efforts in the program to him. One of Dr. Hernandez’s closest mentors, Dr. Mayra Rosario Urrutia, Professor of History at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras and author of La Epidemia Reinante, will give the keynote address at this culminating event.

We are thrilled to introduce the UPR Teacher and U-M Graduate Student Cohorts for the Summer 2021 Curriculum Design Program on Global Health, and look forward to seeing the collaborative globalized lesson plans that the teams will create!

Puerto Rico Teacher Cohort:

Yolymar Ortiz Villegas, Escuela Adela Brenes Texidor

Amanda Silva Acosta, The School of San Juan

Wilmarie Rivera Pérez, Escuela Especializada en Matemáticas, Ciencias y Tecnología

Awilda Rosa Santiago, Escuela Secundaria de la Universidad de Puerto Rico

Charlotte Cabello Rivera, Grand Rapids Public Schools (Spanish-speaking classroom)

Cesamil Irizarry Vélez, The School of San Juan

Zuan Suarez Santiago, Escuela del Deporte de San Juan

University of Michigan Graduate Student Cohort:

Sheng Zou, Chinese Studies (II)

Marie Chantel Montás, Global Health Management & Policy

Paloma Contreras, Anthropology

Daniel Iddrisu, African Studies (II)

Emma Willoughby, Health Management & Policy

Andrea Elmore, Social Work

Amílcar Matos-Moreno, Epidemiology

Linda Camaj Deda, Medicine

Arina Vlasova, Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (II)

Jennifer Inloes, Nursing

Areli Balderrama, Health Behavior & Health Education

Luis Zavala Arciniega, Epidemiology

Sydney Fine, Epidemiology

Colin Garon, Anthropology & History

Lilia Popova, Medicine, Epidemiology

Maya Zreik, Middle Eastern & North African Studies (II)

Katherine Downs, Middle Eastern & North African Studies (II)

Alana Rodriguez recognizes the support staff for this year's summer program.

Finally, this program would not be possible without the dedication of wonderful support staff. Alana gave special acknowledgments to Jennifer Sierra and Javier de Jesus Astacio, both graduate students at the University of Michigan who started working on the U-M/UPR project as translators in 2020. They were first hired to translate the educational resources created through this program from English to Spanish for use in Puerto Rican and other Spanish-speaking classrooms. After the passing of Dr. Hernández, Jennifer and Javier stepped in with little notice to assist and took on new roles in order to support the coordination of this program. “I’m so grateful to them for pivoting from their translation work to ensure that the program lives on,” Alana noted. She also acknowledged Gabrielle Graves from the International Institute, who is working on financial logistics and public relations, and Karin Tice and Amy McNulty, program evaluators from a local woman-owned business, Formative Evaluation Research Associates.