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Reactions from the Educators

“Deals with an aspect of culture not covered in academic courses, yet vitally important. I highly recommend the film for inclusion in Spanish/ Anthropology/ Dance courses. ”
- Alita Kelley, Emerita Professor of Modern Languages, Penn State
“I have been showing the documentary SOY ANDINA for the last 4 years to my spanish 2 students. I finally got to meet the filmaker, director Mitchell Teplitsky. I have been on his blog, and have sent hiim sample papers my students have written about the movie which they love. It is a great cultural experience for my students and i am lucky I found the movie by chance on PBS one night!! It is a huge part of my unit on Peru now. ”
- Shellii Binder, HS Spanish teacher (Florida)
“Another 110 students watched SOY ANDINA and loved it!”
- Shelli Binder Costa, high school Spanish teacher
“The students and faculty loved your film because it touched many of the things we discussed in class. I have received wonderful comments about the event. ”
- Elena Sabogal, professor, Womens Studies & Latin American Studies, WIlliam Paterson U.
“I loved this film and thought it was the most uniquely beautiful and most inspiring film I have ever seen. I am a dancer as well...I can connect so much with this film because of the struggles and obstacles I had to overcome to become the dancer I am today”
- Kyndall Camacho, Florida high school student
“I liked your video project very much for it is attached to a dual phenomenon that it is monitored by Latin American global discourses. One is the return of Latin American nationals to their countries of origin after a very diasporic traumatic experience. These formerly exiled individuals are returning as mature professionals who by now understand the meaning of "competition" "outside knowledge," "innovation," etc. The other one is the journey of children of exiles or any other type of travelers who were born in the first /second world who are not returning to "the mother country" but to the land of their ancestors. Some of them left their countries when they were babies or small thus they do not remember anything. At this point, Peru is seeing the "returning" of second generation of "Peruvians" born in the USA, China, Japan, Finland, Cuba who bring the education, motivation, etc. of their own countries. This sociological factor is well documented in your video. I left Peru when I was 17 years old and I have been living in USA since 1969. Funny thing is that the so-called Peruvian Theater was not systematized until I began performing research (in Peru) and publishing books on Peruvian theater (in the USA). Nelida and Cynthia's journey were not only useful to them but to Peruvian folklore studies as they had a chance to be exposed to the outside world.”
- Luis A. Ramos-Garcia, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, U. of Minnesota
“I really enjoyed this! Particularly the juxtaposing of New York and Lima, and then the countryside. When the young woman returns to New York I found myself experiencing a sense of culture shock with her. This is a film that I will use in my class on Latin American cultures to show how pre-Columbian culture (and particularly music and dance) has persisted for hundred years despite myriad attempts to disparage and even destroy it. I also think that students who view it will have a robust discussion about this persistence vs. the huge changes to the culture, a point which they can debate. One other aspect I appreciate is that it is organically bilingual because students will notice how these women shift from one language to the other, and we can discuss why that is. They will also no doubt have a lively discussion about the young woman feeling like a "gringa" in Lima. Keep me in the loop about Kennesaw if you can, and I will certainly be in touch if I can work something out here at Georgia College. Warm regards, and my best to your wife, Rebecca ”
- Rebecca Carte, Ph.D., Dept. of Modern Languages and Cultures, Georgia College & State U.,
“THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU so much for the wonderful film, discussion and dance presentation. Wow - what a hit! The Association of Latino Alumni events don’t regularly generate such large crowds so the board was beaming. You both brought something truly special to this campus and we couldn’t be happier.”
- Cecilia D. Ramirez, Assistant Director, Multicultural Outreach, U. of Penn. Alumni Relations
“A useful addition to any classroom discussion of globalization, gender, and extremely useful tool in teaching students about the lives of Latin American migrants to the United States and the importance of people’s search for identity and the fluidity of its construction in human action. ”
- William P. Mitchell, Professor of Anthropology, Monmouth University
“We love Soy Andina -- our instructors now use it in our introduction to Latin American Studies. ”
- Angelina Cotler, Associate Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaige
“Phenomenal, great job! It really is a remarkable story-- Cynthia and Nelida's personalities shined through beautifully. And from a cinematic perspective, the voice was so thoughtful, authentic, strategic yet effortless -- the thematic layers are enriching and so relatable to any viewer. I am impressed and even more excited now to be doing this screening with you.”
- Cecilia Ramirez, Assistant Director, Multicultural Outreach, U. of Pennsylvania Alumni Relations
“Great film -- very inspiring! ”
- Mitchell Kossak, Director, Division of Expressive Therapies, Lesley University
“An excellent introduction for students and scholars to see the cultural challenges migrants face while living in diaspora, and upon returning to their places of origin....a valuable source for learning about Peruvian tradition expressed particularly through dance... also useful for courses dealing with ethnographic film production. ”
- Gabriela Martínez (Visual Anthropology Review, May 2010)
“Soy Andina is an extraordinary program that promotes mutual understanding and dialogue, and touched people profoundly ”
- Steven Ramirez, Cultural Affairs, U.S. Embassy-Lima (sponsor of tour of Peru)
“In Cynthia and Nélida we see two women, New Yorkers both, following a path of discovery through dance – a path that leads each one both back to her Peruvian roots, and optimistically forward. Soy Andina celebrates multi-ethnic lives in an intergenerational story of individual and community, art and empowerment that is highly instructive and delightful all at once. ”
- Kathleen M. McIntosh, Professor of Spanish and Women's Studies Chair, Dept. of World Language Studies, Westfield State University
“Just a short note to say how OUTSTANDING the program about Peru and two modern immigrant women was at the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts. A prestigious venue for the film maker to interact with a responsive, diverse audience. A win-win. Kudos to all who helped make this event possible.”
- Leanna Brown NJ State Senator (ret.) State Senator
“Thank you for everything. I have gotten nothing but wonderful feedback from the staff and trustees in attendance. Everyone really enjoyed the program. It was just wonderful.”
- April Lyzak, programming, Museum of Early Trade and Crafts (Madison, NJ)
“This film is important for so many reasons. It promotes Peruvian (and Andean) culture in the best, informative, graphic way... It shows the world what a complex and magical world peruvian dance is, and how hidden has been....It promotes Latino culture beyond the established images and stereotypes”
- Luis Valverde, Valverde Dance Co.
“I saw your film over the weekend and really enjoyed it. I think it's especially a great film for youth audiences. Even if we weren't to arrange a public screening of this film, is this a film we could order to keep in our library and show to the high school kids that we bring to DC every summer? ”
- Ranald Woodaman, Public Programs Director, Smithsonian Latino Center
“The film came at the end of our Folklore conference and made a terrific wrap-up; the response was very warm...a great enrichment to the event. ”
- Dorothy Noyes, Center for Folklore Studies, Ohio State U.
“A great first film.”
- Cecilia Salvatierra, Ph.D. Anthropology, CUNY
“Soy Andina is a monumental of the first documentaries about Andean identity, music, dance and migration ”
- Julio Noriega, Professor of Spanish, Denison University
“Soy Andina is a wonderful film that highlights the universal motives underlying the experience of immigration, uprooting and re-definition of identity -- a top-notch contribution to the Hispanic heritage of the United States. ”
- Claudio Ivan Remeseira, Director, The Hispanic New York Project, Columbia U.
“I love this film! It particularly speaks to the dance anthropologist in me. So much richness, joy, discovery, culture. I'm looking forward to watching it again and sharing it with friends. A must see!”
- Hope Jinishian, dance anthropologist
“Loved it, a wonderful film. Hard to stop smiling and moving my body! Filled with joy and music, the film provides a wonderful portrait of rural and urban Peru, Peruvian migrants to the United States, and people’s search for identity and meaning in their lives.”
- William P. Mitchell, Professor of Anthropology, Monmouth University
“"this project will be of great interest to scholars and researchers." ”
- Roselly Torres, Latin American Video Archives
“Even as they come to their shared Andean culture from distinctly different starting points, "Soy Andina" lovingly captures two women's embrace of their culture and the empowering friendship which emerges between them as a result. Nelida, the older, was raised in Perú and carries the passion of preserving the traditions and folkloric expressions of the village which she has known since her childhood. Cynthia comes initially to her parents' Peruvian culture through her innate love of dance, and this stimulates her interest to learn Peruvian dances as a participant. As a result of a scholarship allowing her to study in Perú, Cynthia's "genetic cultural memory" is awakened and she blossoms into the Andean woman previously lying dormant within her. For me, the film powerfully demonstrates the tension inherent within cultural preservation. If we approach "culture" as a static reality, that is, expressions which are fixed and therefore should not be invaded upon, adjusted, or changed in any way, we are far more likely to resist any force with seems to be changing it, either intentionally or not. However, if we view culture in a more dynamic manner, seeing expressions as flexible interpretations of core values held, we are more likely to not be threatened by the changes we observe in the expressions. The defining moment of the film occurs when Nelida objects to the folklore band playing cumbia instead of folklore music in the village's annual celebration. For her, the modern has invaded upon the traditional, and this is tantamount to treason. At the core, she fears the loss of her culture and is fighting to preserve it. Soy Andina, while showing Peruvian culture, actually demonstrates the power which culture and its expressions hold in our lives. Without denying its Peruvian basis, Soy Andina is a mirror into our deeper beliefs of what it is to be human and a member of something larger than ourselves, our families, and our clans.”
- Walt Gangwere, Social Studies teacher; editor, Historymania
“A great film, with a great message... I must share this with my spanish class ”
- Ninosca Perez
“I am convinced that Soy Andina will contribute to a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural roots of many immigrants in the USA, who often lose their face and just become a 'Latino.'”
- Mariska van Walsen, executive director, Warmayllu (Peruvian arts education NGO)
“Soy Andina provided a valuable educational experience! This film is truly inspirational and speaks to the calling of heritage connection and preservation, and the way in which culturally specific traditions survive. ”
- Tyese Wortham, World Arts West | SF Ethnic Dance Fest
“Hi Mitch and Cynthia - thanks for such a great event and performance, you were fantastic! ”
- Rock Wheeler, National Geographic Live!
“The film, Q& A and workshops all were excellent! I was moved the entire time. You captured the essence of Peru and its many cultural manifestations. I am certain that our teachers would benefit immensely from watching Soy Andina. ”
- Mariella Arredondo, Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Indiana University
“I showed the film to my Spanish class today. They LOVED it!! A Great documentary for students. AND I used your great lesson plan. Thank you so much for enriching my students more than I could do alone!!!”
- High school Spanish teacher in Florida
“A joyous film that seeks the essence of diasporic Andean identity through the linked lives of Fulbright scholar and professional dancer Cynthia Paniagua and folklore dancer Nélida viewers insight into the expression of hybrid constructions of identity ”
- Gabriela Torres, Visual Studies Journal
“A probing and insightful film on the "immigrant" experience”
- Pegi Vail, professor of media and culture, Anthropology Dept, Colombia U.
“Congratulations on such a wonderful film! This film contributes to our understanding of the experience of migration, cultural identity, and their impact on traditional and contemporary arts. It should become an important resource to college-level teaching in Latino and Latin American Studies”
- Dr. Carlos Fernandez, Director, Center for Latino Arts and Culture, Rutgers U,
“A lovely story that touches at the heart of contemporary America: a story of exile and quest for one's origins and identity ”
- Abigail Doukhan, Professor of Philosophy, Queens College
“A wonderful film, done in such an honest and exciting way, with great insight into Peruvian society and its outstanding art ”
- Inge Bolin, anthropologist and author: "Growing Up in a Culture of Respect"
“A beautiful film, both as visual art and as personal story”
- Dr. Sally Atkins, Expressive Arts Therapy Program, Appalachian State U.
“You captured the essence of the dance, the reality of the people. ”
- Sara Perez, Bronx Dance Academy
“A powerful film of interest to anyone wishing to explore cultures, traditions and roots, and for anyone who's ever asked: 'who am I, and where do I belong?'”
- Daria Hajioannou, ethnomusicologist & musician
“As an academic with years of experience using documentaries on Latin America, I can honestly say that none I've seen show the intimacy between the camera and the culture that Soy Andina does; it looks at the culture and people from within. ”
- Edmundo Morales, Anthropology Chair, Westchester University
“Wonderful. The film had passion that was unescapable. It felt very much connected to the dance culture. Thank you. I would like to show it to my folk dance class for obvious reasons. You captured the flavor of the culture. The two stories of the women and the way they intertwined was interesting, easy to follow, and touching.”
- Jana Feinman, Director of Dance, Hunter College
“Thank you for coming to Rutgers yesterday. Even after seeing the film so many times, it still continues to move and humble me. ”
- Ulla Berg, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies, Rutgers University

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