The Sirocco wind system develops in the Sahara Desert, moves from North Africa to Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece, and continues on as fast east as Iran. Depending on the geographical area, the wind system can carry hot, dry air and even dust and sediment from the Sahara.
What is striking is that the Sirocco moves across an area of the world already deeply connected (though those connections are often purposefully omitted) by shared cultural histories, languages, music and dance tradition, architecture, aesthetic values, and much more.
In that way, the Sirocco serves as a fluid, metaphorical embodiment of a broad, interconnected cultural territory despite colonial and neo-colonial agendas to, for instance, submerge the Islamic history of southern Italy, Spain, and Portugal; divorce Mediterranean language and arts forms from the Romani people; and, even more radically, declare such forms as flamenco as the national music when its producers continue to be persecuted and marginalized (a story repeated across the planet).
By using the Sirocco wind system as a natural model, Sirocco Blue uses a fluid system of crossing to document and promote cultural, linguistic, and historical exchange.
In addition to the writing on cross-cultural connections and diasporic ties, Sirocco Blue builds innovative educational programs of all lengths around them. We do this primarily for U.S.-based universities and study abroad organizations. Our short and long-term study abroad programs celebrate cultural continuities through full-immersion language and intercultural learning. Beginning with intensive Brazilian-Portuguese language and culture studies in Brazil (2009) and most recently a Cuba program for a U.S. study abroad organization (2016), our team has seven years of study abroad development and management experience in Latin America and the Iberian peninsula. We also develop “study away” programs in Puerto Rico, New York City, and Boston on Sirocco and African diaspora themes.
Because we are committed to building high-impact, experiential learning programs, we are also dedicated to “re-entry” programs that allow participants to use their language and intercultural skills to gain meaningful employment with organizations that value working across cultures.
As we see language (and access to information often submerged in colonial and neo-colonial omissions) as the key to opening communication between diasporic communities, we take on a select number of translation projects that hold cultural or historical importance. In addition to translating between languages (Portuguese, Spanish, English), we offer translation strategy consulting: we help organizations with missions that we support understand how communication will translate cross-culturally before the actual process of translating begins. This ability to assess branding, advertising, and the public communications of organizations through the lens of translation and the translatability has led to great savings for our partners. We also take on content editing projects in English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Before founding Sirocco Blue, lead facilitator Jacob Dyer Spiegel, served as the head of Laspau-Harvard University’s traditional scholarship programs for Latin America and the Caribbean. In that function, Jacob led institutional relations with the major scholarship providers to students from Latin America and the Caribbean (Science Without Borders, Fulbright, Kellogg, OAS, just to mention a few) and he oversaw the selection and placement processes for all programs. Central to college admissions and to scholarship applications, especially when standardized test requirements have been waived, the importance of the personal statement and statement of purpose has only increased. Based on this, Sirocco Blue offers comprehensive college admissions consulting as well as a specific methodology for developing and improving the statements needed to gain entry into institutions and with full funding. Our services include preparatory schools at the secondary level, as well.
Sirocco Blue staff reviews and promotes local businesses (starting with Boston and the 5-Colleges) that either participate in or are related to the cultural and linguistic “territory” of the Sirocco. Our objective is to highlight services and create natural synergies between local organizations.
As we approach what we term “Sirocco aesthetics” and attempt to build toward a moving Sirocco Theory, our staff—especially seen in our photography and art installations—works in partnership with a major Boston-based commercial and residential construction company, and an architecture-interior designer on Space and Spatial Management projects. These two organizations work from the concepts of open, adaptable space that is built around natural light, wind, and completely eco-friendly and green.
Finally, in partnership with local engineering students, Sirocco Blue is raising funds for a renewable energy pilot based on wind, naturally. Over the summer we hope to unroll and describe this new program! Please stay tuned for more writing on the topic!