About

The Sirocco wind system is a metaphor for diaspora, cultural continuities, and translation.

I find, in these winds and interrelated weather patterns, a profound model for the meeting of cultures: from sub-Saharan West Africa, to North Africa, across the Mediterranean to Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy, as far east as India and Iran.

The goal is to develop music, literature, and fine arts programming around the Sirocco metaphor. To translate and make information available across cultures and languages. And to develop innovative full immersion educational programs.

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ABOUT THE SIROCCO WINDS

The Sirocco wind system develops in the Sahara Desert, moves north and northeast from North Africa to Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece, and continues on as fast east as Iran. Architectural forms develop around the Sirocco, as do patterns in collective memory and arts traditions.

Depending on the geographical area, the wind system can carry hot, dry air and even sand, dust and sediment from the Sahara. Sand and debris from the African continent, then, are reminders of the geographic proximity and cultural impact of Africa on Europe, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, and certainly the Americas as well. Indeed, from another perspective, the Sirocco carries languages, ideas, and cultural forms from the Sahara across the Mediterranean Sea and, as I explore in the blog writing, from the Sahara across the Atlantic Ocean.

800px-Sirocco_from_LibyaWhat is also 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 traditions, 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 writing explores a fluid system of crossing to document and promote cultural, linguistic, and historical exchange. The Sirocco is also an incredibly rich metaphor for cultural and language exchange across all boundaries, the process and impact of translation, and the sharing of ideas through translation. The interior design and spatial enhancement services are derived from an appreciation for the Sirocco and the natural world.

ABOUT JACOB DYER SPIEGEL

cropped-img_2088.jpg I teach literature and writing at the University of The Bahamas, develop multilateral exchange programs, and write about African and Roma diasporas (the subject of most of the SiroccoBlue blog posts).

I have a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and was a Fulbright Scholar in Salvador, Brazil (2011). All of my research is centered on West African aesthetic philosophies and the ways in which creative artists employ specific concepts from religious contexts.

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RESUME 

Education

Ph.D. in English, University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2006-2011)

M.A. in Caribbean Cultural Studies/Estudios Culturales del Caribe (2002-2004)
State University of New York-Buffalo & Universidad de la Habana, Cuba
(a dual-enrolled, bilingual, joint-degree program)

B.A. in Comparative Literature, University of Massachusetts-Amherst (1997-2002)
B.A. in Spanish & Portuguese, University of Massachusetts-Amherst (1997-2002)

Work Experience

University of The Bahamas (2017-Present)
Assistant Professor, English Studies
Director, Global Studies & Programmes

Blue Sage Global Education (2016-Present)
Founder of Study Abroad Program Development Consultancy

  • Floor plans and interior design for international school facilities
  • Build new study abroad program operations, enhance & expand existing operations
  • Focussed on English, Portuguese, and Spanish-spaking countries
  • Writing and publications on study abroad

Harvard University (2015-2016)
Assistant Director, Laspau-Scholarship Programs & Client Relations

  • Ran scholarship programs with major providers, ministries of education, and universities in U.S. and Latin America: Fulbright Program, Organization of American States, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Colciencias, MIT-Universidad de Buenos Aires, INICIA, Science Without Border, & other programs
  • Assessed program strengths and weaknesses, implemented plans for improvement, identified core communication/translation issues and programming gaps between institutions, oversaw all program budgets, led all scholar support teams
  • Developed and implemented emergency planning and protocol workshops for the team of scholar advisors in close collaboration with Harvard University’s psychology services unit
  • Participated in the design of new scholarship programs and applications for new grants

Princeton University (2015)
Consultant—Study Abroad Program Development

  • Created, from the ground up, Princeton’s unique Gap-Year Ambassadors program in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
  • Initiated agreements with host institutions, secured visa sponsorship, interviewed & hired local staff, created safety protocol & emergency evacuation planning
  • Established network of volunteer organizations and internship opportunities
  • Advised on program design, course content, and teaching methods for the language program

Universidade Católica do Salvador, Brazil (2014-2015)
Consultant—International Programs Office

  • Developed Brazilian-Portuguese for Foreigners course, assisted with marketing of program to U.S. and European universities and consortia, established network of comprehensive support services for international students enrolled in that program

Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) (2012-2015)
Resident Director of Salvador, Brazil Study Abroad Programs

  • Led the design and building of a new CIEE study center facility in-line with expansion plans and in the most sough-after section of Salvador
  • Led complete overhaul of all programing, safety protocol, academics, extracurriculars
  • Initiated business legalization, hiring and training of staff, development of new courses, selection of instructors, curriculum design, oversaw all study center budgets
  • Developed over 20 unique theme-based, faculty-led programs with full itinerary for U.S. universities in Brazil
  • Established new agreements with community organizations and host universities
  • Re-vamped and led all pre-departure, in-country, and re-entry orientations
  • Created tracks of study and incorporated into program marketing marterials

Fulbright Program (2011)
Scholar-Researcher in Brazil

  • Research and writing on Afro-Brazilian religious systems and their active presence in literature, arts, and community-based education projects
  • Completion of Doctoral Dissertation

University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2005-2010)
Lecturer & Course Instructor

  • Designed and taught all levels of Expository and Creative Writing courses in the English Program
  • Led student discussion sections for courses on Modern Fiction, Transnational Fiction, Representations of the Holocaust, and Modern American Drama
  • Designed and taught all levels of Portuguese language and culture courses
  • Served as advisor and member of University Writing Program Diversity Committee, building in methods for supporting and effectively teaching writing to international and multilingual students
  • Received College of Humanities and Fine Arts Award for Teaching and Research
  • Consistently promoted the values and importance of study abroad/international learning and coached students through the selection and application process

University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2009)
Consultant—Study Abroad Program Development

  • Designed the Brazilian-Portuguese language and culture course, pre-departure orientation, and hired and trained language instructors for faculty-led Business study abroad program (undergraduate and graduate level)

SageFox (2008-2009)
Consultant—Translation & Translation Strategy

  • Managed translation team (Portuguese/English), conducted translations, advised on methods for translating qualitative research
  • Selected translated material to be included in grant application
  • Communicated translation plans to French team to ensure consistent rendering of content across languages
  • Advised on changes to original content and survey design thinking ahead to its translatability

Freelance Translation & Translation Strategy Project (2005-2006)

  • Managed translation team (Spanish/English), conducted translations, established strategies for translating what seemed like deliberately (at times) non-sensical political discourse (surprise…) into English, and transcribed nearly 200 hours of interviews on social movements in Buenos Aires, all culminating in a highly original thesis and widely cited published articles

Aspira of New York (2004-2005)

  • Worked intensively with New York City Public School students and their families in Spanish and English on the College Application and Scholarship Application process
  • Developed and implemented workshops on crafting persuasive Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement documents

Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program (2002-Present)
Study Abroad and International Education Advisor, Latin America

Special Skills

  • Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese
  • Writing, translation, content editing (English, Portuguese, Spanish)
  • Creative problem solving in area of international education design/management
  • Study Abroad program development and assessment
  • Curriculum design and academic leadership
  • Teacher hiring and training
  • Writing, teaching of writing, coaching students through college admissions process
  • Grants research and writing
  • Scholarship program design and implementation
  • Institutional relations and international partnerships management