Charles Stansifer 1930 – 2016
Charles Stansifer and Mary Miller
Charlie Stansifer was a native Kansan with an international perspective and a love for Paraguay. Charlie was born in western Kansas and obtained a bachelors degree from Wichita State University before becoming an expert in the history of Central America. He spent most of this academic career in multiple positions at the University of Kansas.
It is difficult to describe Charlie’s immense impact on Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP). One measure that Charlie might use is that he is mentioned 55 times in the index of Merrill and Boots Raber’s 40-Year History of Kansas-Paraguay Partners.
One of Charlie’s signature achievements was obtaining Kansas Board of Regents and legislative agreement that a limited number of Paraguayan students could attend Kansas universities as in-state students. As a result more than 1,000 Paraguayans have studied in Kansas. Many obtaining degrees and returning to Paraguay to enhance the development of their country.
Charlie started working on the university exchange in 1976 and the agreement was signed shortly thereafter. The Raber history reports that in 1985 there were only 15 Paraguayan students studying in Kansas. Their was a dramatic increase in the 1990s to over 100 students per year. Today the program has expanded to Washburn University and Johnson County Community College and several universities have increased the number of Paraguayan students that they would accept.
Charlie always say Kansas Paraguay Partners as a two way exchange and he worked tirelessly to encourage Kansas students to study in Paraguay. This was a difficult task that bore little fruit. In 2005 he pledged $5000 to support a scholarship fund to support Kansas students to study in Paraguay as well as Paraguayans to study in Kansas. KPP undertook to endow a fund to support Charlie’s vision. Just 10 years later the fund was sufficient to support two $1,500 scholarships each year. One for a Kansas student and one for a Paraguayan.
Charlie did not limit his KPP involvement to educational exchanges. In 1977 our counterpart Comitè Paraguay Kansas was concerned that while several Paraguayan artist had visited Kansas, no Kansas artists had visited Paraguay. Charlie met with staff of the Centro Cultural Paraguayo-Americano in Asuncion to promote and co-sponsor Kansas artists to visit Paraguay. Since then artistic exchanges have been a nearly annual part of the Kansas-Paraguay partnership.
Similarly in 1985 Charlie accompanied Phil Humphrey who was an ornithologist and director of the University of Kansas Natural History Museum to the Paraguayan Chaco. They identified 80 species of birds.
Since history was Charlie’s life he also turned this passion to the stories of KPP and Paraguay. Since KPP is an all volunteer organization with no physical office, it would be easy to loose track of its many accomplishments. Charlie arranged for the Kansas State Historical Society to be the depository for the KPP archives. The archives are available to anyone interested in the history of this great partnership.
Similarly in 1990 visited Paraguay and evaluated the history curriculum at the two major universities as well as the resources of the Paraguay Archives. He found the resources available for historical research to be lacking. Charlie had several important documents regarding Paraguayan history in his extensive personal library. He donated these to the University of Kansas Library to be available to all scholars. They were also copied and provided to Paraguayan scholars.
Finally, Charlie along with Merrill Raber and Alberto Granada of Paraguay arranged a tour of Paraguay and tour of Peru, Paraguay and Chili. Charlie’s history lectures were an essential part of participants understanding of the places visited.
Kansas Connection to Oscar Candidate Featured in Tallgrass Film Festival
The story of Landfill Harmonic has built viral anticipation for this documentary that will be featured at Tallgrass Film Festival. Music inspires hope and accomplishment amid poverty and disaster in a story that continues to unfold.
Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura. This Paraguayan musical group is composed of kids living next to one of South America’s largest landfills. The unlikely orchestra plays music with instruments made entirely out of trash. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. With the guidance of their music director, they must navigate this new world of arenas and sold out concerts. However, when a natural disaster devastates their community, the orchestra provides a source of hope for the town. The film is a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.
Proposed by Paraguay as its candidate for an Oscar nomination, this heart-warming story has connections to Kansas. The Recycled Orchestra sprung from a project supported by Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP). KPP members carried donated instruments to Sounds of the Earth, founded in 2002 by Luis Szarán, Paraguayan orchestra director, composer and musical researcher. Both Sounds of the Earth and Recycled Orchestra serve to build educational and social success in children who have very limited resources.
Landfill Harmonic will be shown on Fri, Oct 16, 3:15 PM at the Orpheum Theatre and on Sun, Oct 18, 1:45 PM at the Garvey Theater 1.
The Kansas Paraguay chapter of Partners of the Americas (Partners) has been active since 1968. Partners connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting friendships. KPP project areas include education, health, cultural arts, emergency preparedness and natural resources.
More details may be found at the following links and contacts.
Landfill Harmonic at the Tallgrass Film Festival
https://kansasparaguaypartners.wordpress.com/ Kansas Paraguay Partners
Tallgrass Film Association
13th annual Tallgrass Film Festival
October 14-18, 2015 in Wichita, Kansas
On August 7, 2015 Paraguayan President Horatio Cartes signed legislation that establishes September 23 as Afro-Paraguayan Cultural Day.
As an advocate Silvia Diaz de Moore is largely responsible for this legislation and is the International Representative of the Saint Baltazar Traditional Group of Kamba Cua that is one of the Afro-Paraguayan communities.
Silvia Diaz de Moore said that for the Afro-descendant community this achievement puts on the calendar a day that commemorates Afro-descendants. She explained that September 23 was chosen as the day to commemorate Afro-Paraguayan culture because of the death of Gervasio Artigas.
General José Gervasio Artigas, also known as father of Uruguayan independence, included free slave soldiers (known as los lancercos de Artigas or the lancers of Artigas) in Uruguay’s war of independence from Spain. Silvia and the Kamba Cua community’s descendants were los lanceros de Artigas, who fought in the war of Uruguayan independence in the early 1800s. Artigas and his soldiers, including los lanceros de Artigas, received political asylum in Paraguay around 1820, but the Paraguayan dictator at that time, José Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, would not allow them to mix with the “white” population.” Francia provided Silvia’s ancestors land and livestock outside of Paraguay’s capital city of Asunción to survive. Silvia’s Kamba Cua community has lived in that area ever since. Kamba Cua, is Guarani, the native indigenous language of Paraguay, and means “area of the black.” Silvia’s descendants maintained their African heritage by performing African dance and musical traditions called Candombe. Silvia and residents of Kamba Cua still practice Candombe and organize a festival every year in their community to celebrate their heritage and culture. Other Afro-Paraguayan communities are in Paraguari, Emboscada, and Laurelty.
Silva is married to Kansas native Shante Moore who graduated from Kansas State University. Shante participated in a Kansas State community service project in Piribebuy, Paraguay in 1994. Silvia and Shante met in 2000 when he was working as a fellow in the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion. During his fellowship, he worked with Kamba Cua to set up a Kansas State Community Service Project with four students in 2001. They later married. Shane is currently working in the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States (OAS).
Filed under: Civil Society, Cultural Arts, History, News from Paraguay | Tagged: Afro-Paraguayan Culture Day, Gerrasio Artigas, Jose Gaspar Rodriguez Francia, Kamba Cua, kansas state university, Paraguayan President Horatio Cartes, Saint Baltazar Traditional Group, Sante Moore, Silva Diaz de Moore | Leave a comment »
Paraguay has a long history of economic activity attributed to corruption and contraband. Ciudad Del Este is a well known center of such activity. Now we finally have some good news about progress in this amazing city. If you have ever been there, you know what I mean. Ciudad del Este has it all.
Kansas Paraguay Partners and Comité Paraguay Kansas have had both visual and performing artist exchanges for most of its existence. Recently there is a special visual arts project between KPP, CPK and the Paraguayan Binational Center (CCPA). Amber Hansen and Eric Conrad have traveled to Paraguay to judge art contests and we await the visit of Sergio Jara the Paraguayan winner of the sculpture contest. Paraguayan photographer Teresita Gonzalez has also visited Kansas recently. All of this is to say that Paraguay has a vibrant visual art tradition. KPP supporter Arla Jones sent this link to Paraguay’s participation in the Venice Biennale. Take a look at some great work.
Filed under: Cultural Arts, News from Paraguay | Tagged: Amber Hansen, CCPA, Comité Paraguay Kansas, cultual exchange, Eric Conrad, kansas paraguay partners, Paraguayan Art, Teresita Gonzalez | Leave a comment »