Hispanic Studies’ Student Focus, April 2018

Le’ah Griggs, a double major in Music Theory/Composition and Spanish ’18, is a member of the College of Charleston’s Concert Choir, the Latin American Ensemble Otro Sur, the Spanish Club, and she serves as Librarian-Student Team Leader for Addlestone Library.  She has also served as the Assistant Director of the Children’s Choir at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, and she is a private piano instructor.  Le’ah spent her spring 2017 semester studying abroad in the College of Charleston’s program in Trujillo, Spain, with support from the Jean and Tap Johnson Study Abroad Award courtesy of the School of the Arts.

In Le’ah’s own words:

The Spanish language and Hispanic studies department at the College of Charleston is a close-knit, engaging, and welcoming community that I am proud to be a part of. Thanks to the dedicated professors and rigorous course work offered by this department, I have drastically improved my Spanish language skills, broadened my knowledge of Hispanic culture on a global scale, and have grown immensely as a person. The most rewarding experience I have gained as a student of Hispanic studies comes from my time abroad in Trujillo, Spain. So much so in fact, that after graduation this Spring, I will be returning to Spain to pursue a Masters in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language at the University of Alcalá where I have received a full scholarship. I plan to be a music teacher in a Spanish language immersion school in the future.  

5 Things College Students Need to Know about Ukraine-Russia Conflict

5 Things College Students Need to Know about Ukraine-Russia Conflict.

Posted on 21 March 2014 | 9:14 am

There’s something going on in Ukraine right now, and it also involves Russia, the U.S., our North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and the European Union (EU). In other words, it’s a complicated situation fueled by numerous political motivations and hinged on delicate post-Cold-War relationships between many European and Eurasian nations.

Adjunct Professor of Political Science and International Studies and Eastern European scholar Max Kovalov has boiled down the five things College students need to know now about the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Max Kovalov, Adjunct Professor of Political Science and International Studies and Eastern European scholar

Max Kovalov, Adjunct Professor of Political Science and International Studies and Eastern European scholar

1. A little background

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union until it disbanded in 1991. Ukraine borders Russia and was recently given a choice to sign a free-trade agreement with the EU or to join the Eurasian Customs Union with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan when it is established (projected by 2015).

When Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych announced his plans not to sign the free-trade agreement with the EU in November, the Ukrainian people took to Independence Square (known as the Maidan) in Kiev to protest and demand Yanukovych reverse the decision. Russia offered Ukraine a $15 billion bailout in December to incentivize the Eurasian Customs Union deal.

[Related: CNN’s 20 questions: what’s behind Ukraine’s political crisis.]

2.  The revolution

Yanukovych did not reverse his decision to agree to the Eurasian Custom Union trade deal. His actions denied the millions of Ukrainians who “seek to establish a new system of governance based on democratic rules that ensure political rights, civil liberties, and accountability of public officials,” Kovalov said.

After months of protests, Yanukovych fled Kiev and ultimately Ukraine for Russia in late February. The Ukrainian parliament has put out an arrest warrant for the former president on counts of “mass killings” of civilians, and declared a new interim government since Yanukovych fled.

3. The fight for Crimea

Until March, Crimean peninsula was universally considered an autonomous territory of Ukraine. It was a Russian territory from the 18th century until 1954, when Soviet Union Leader Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine to commemorate the 300-year anniversary of Russian-Ukrainian unity. Despite being part of Ukraine, Crimea is home to a large Russian population.

Crimea held a referendum March 16, 2014, during which its residents voted on whether to remain a part of Ukraine, yet with greater autonomy or to secede and join Russia. While much of the world claims this referendum is illegal, Russia has moved forward with plans to annex Crimea. “Russia is the only state that officially recognized Crimean secession from Ukraine,” Kovalov said.

4. What does the West think?

The EU and the U.S. have sanctioned dozens of Russian politicians as a means of convincing Russia to abort its plans for Crimean annexation. Russia has not given any indication that it will abandon those efforts.

The U.S and the EU hope to avoid continued political upheaval in Europe. The Western world contends that Russia “violated a series of international treaties and re-opened the question of territorial integrity, potentially resulting in instability, ethnic conflicts, and full-scale war in Europe,” Kovalov said.

The U.S. and the EU hope to aid the Ukrainian people as they work to build a democratic government. “The west has a moral responsibility to assist the democratic aspirations of Ukraine,” Kovalov said.

5. What will happen next?

President Obama has already added sanctions to include more politically influential Russian officials and he warned that if Russia continues to annex Crimea he will “impose additional costs on Russia,” according to his statement on March 20, 2014. Those additional costs will likely include added pressure on major Russian industries including energy exports.

The U.S. expects the EU to enact the same sanctions and warn of similar sanctions in the future.

For more information, contact Max Kovalov at kovalovm@cofc.edu.

 

 

Office of Media Relations

Mike Robertson
Senior Director of Media Relations
robertsonm@cofc.edu
843.953.5667

Melissa Whetzel
Director of Media Relations
whetzelm@cofc.edu
843.953.7752

 

 

 

Professor Lewis Calls Seeing Nelson Mandela “A Most Extraordinary Experience”

http://news.cofc.edu/2013/12/09/professor-simon-lewis-calls-seeing-nelson-mandela-a-most-extraordinary-experience/

Posted on 9 December 2013 | 11:52 am

College of Charleston English Professor Simon Lewis saw Nelson Mandela in 1990 and calls it a most extraordinary experience. Lewis spent his teenage years in South Africa during apartheid and recalls the legendary 1994 election, and how these experiences impacted the course of his life.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Greeting Nelson Mandela

Tanzania was the first country Nelson Mandela visited after being released from prison in 1990. Simon Lewis was living in the country at the time teaching at an international school, and he and his wife were among the thousands that lined the route from the airport to the Government House in downtown Dar es Salaam.

“It was a most extraordinary experience,” Lewis says. “We were truly watching the story of African independence as Nelson and Winnie Mandela and Julius Nyerere rode in the back of a colonial era open-top Rolls Royce. We were standing on the road not far from the airport and as soon as the car passed us, the crowd burst into a chant of Man-del-a, Nye-re-re, Man-del-a, Nye-re-re.”

[Related: See photos from the visit.]

Mandela’s Impact

Lewis was the editor of Illuminations: An International Magazine of Contemporary Writing. The 1989 and 1990 issues were devoted to South African writing and the difference between the two issues was remarkable Lewis recalls. The 1989 volume was full of anti-apartheid poetry and protest prose, then after Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the following Illuminations volume contained ecstatic poems – a true reflection of the feelings in that part of the world.

“My time in South Africa certainly had an impact on my career path,” Lewis notes. “My research interests include literature from South Africa, Africa and connections between South Carolina and the Atlantic world.”

Watching from the U.S.

Lewis was in the United States during the 1994 election, but he remembers watching nervously. He says, “It was mind-blowingly exciting to see the lines of people waiting to vote.”

Lewis was last in South Africa three years ago, but has been watching and reading all he can in the past few days. He predicts that the politics there will shift from a racial focus to a focus on social and economic issues.

“There’s a lot of talk that Mandela was the glue that held the African National Congress alliance together and with him gone and a new generation of voters that did not experience apartheid, I think we’ll see a shift in politics.”

[Related: Mandela’s Death Leaves South Africa Without its Moral Center.]

Simon Lewis can be reached at lewiss@cofc.edu or 843.953.1920.

Office of Media Relations

Mike Robertson
Senior Director of Media Relations
robertsonm@cofc.edu
843.953.5667

Melissa Whetzel
Director of Media Relations
whetzelm@cofc.edu
843.953.7752