The University of Texas at Austin
School of Undergraduate Studies
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Ashley Rivera

Ashley Rivera
Major: 
Sociology
BDP Certificate: 
Media, Culture & Identities
Graduation: 
Fall 2015

Ashley Rivera, who completed her BDP certificate in Media, Culture & Identities in fall 2015, spent the summer of 2015 on the coast of Nicaragua where she conducted ethnographic research on the Garifuna people. Her research explored the unique culture and identity of a black indigenous population within the broader Mestizo population of Nicaragua.

“Through this Connecting Experience I learned about these peoples’ histories, lives, and experiences as well as how to conduct research.”

Please describe your project and how you came up with the idea.

My ethnographic text explores the discourses and contexts utilized by Garifuna peoples on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, situating and constructing their identities within this space today. I was particularly interested in understanding how shared identities are formulated and how the theme of diaspora, both black and Garifuna, play into these conversations. Through this Connecting Experience I learned about these peoples’ histories, lives, and experiences as well as how to conduct research.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?

Having a people share their culture, spaces, and lives with me. I got to meet some of the most amazing people and begin the process of relationship building with their communities, many of whom I remain in contact with today and have re-visited since finishing my project. Those relationships and being able to share their stories with others has been the most rewarding.

In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?

For several years I have been hoping to live out of the country post-graduation for a few years before returning to the U.S. to continue graduate schoolwork. Now I have a whole new location and community of people that I could return to if I am wanted/needed. This experience has also solidified my desire to continue to do ethnographic research in my future works.