Describe your research project and how you came up with the idea.
My project consisted of using interviews and archival research to better understand the land demarcation process in the Autonomous Regions of Nicaragua, focusing on Pearl Lagoon and the Bluefields territories as case studies. My research interests for several years have concentrated on indigenous peoples, African diaspora studies, and human rights. I decided to focus on land rights in Nicaragua because the right to land is a fundamental human right and Nicaragua is currently undergoing demarcation.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
Every person I interviewed was so excited to have their voice heard and so passionate about their community and their human rights. It was rewarding to be able to speak with so many human rights activists who are engaged in gaining rights for their communities and who are so generous with their personal stories, time, and information.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
I plan to use my research from my Connecting Experience in Bluefields, Nicaragua, as the foundation for my Latin American studies honors thesis I will write my senior year. I also have been inspired to continue to work on issues of land rights for indigenous and African-descended communities, particularly in Latin America. I hope to become a professor of Latin American history, and this Connecting Experience has helped me find a focus for my academic studies. It also helped me gain a better understanding of the importance of field work and of listening to and working with local individuals as the basis for understanding complex issues such as land demarcation.