Official Blog of the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

LACIS Goes Back to School!

by LACIS Outreach Assistant, Mary Pyne (’13, LACIS and International Studies)

When one thinks Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies, the mind draws up the windowless Ingraham hallways and the sandwich you might be nibbling on while a professor presents a new fascinating topic of research. Or the  grant you received for that great internship in Chile. Or  the support you had for your research. Those memories define a large portion of what we do, but not all.  Another factor of the LACIS mission is K-12 outreach, and being active in the Madison community, as a member of the Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium (WIOC).

On May 21st, as part of this initiative, we participated in the Madison Midvale Elementary School’s  International Day. This is a special event devoted to the diversity of the community and student-body. This was a great celebration of dancing, playing, music and traditional costume. For part of the day the students “traveled” through the school gym with their teachers. In the evening all of the students revisited with their families. Each table had a presenter with materials, posters and games, all meant to introduce the students to a particular country and ethnicity.


Our outreach assistant, Mary Pyne, represented LACIS at the event, presenting Cuba to the children.

The conversations and interaction were incredible! The way the eyes of the kids lit up when they found out that empanadas are not only what their family eats, but what other kids in Cuba might be eating, was unbelievable. The capacity of children to be amazed and soak up information is boundless. It was an honor to be part of an event that opened up their world, to a world that is not only of different colors but of different cultures.” (Mary)

The “Cuba” table is  a part  of a larger project LACIS has completed: a Cuba Discovery Box. This box delivers artifacts and materials for Wisconsin K-12 teachers, as an aid to talking about Cuba in the classroom.

See? And you thought you knew what LACIS was all about!

Are you interested in using the Cuba box for your classroom , have questions, or would like us to engage with your school? Please contact LACIS’ Outreach Coordinator, Sarah Ripp (