1. Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you go to college and what did you study? Did you study abroad and if so where?
My name is Juan Carlos L. Albarrán. I was born in Havana, Cuba and moved to Tucson, AZ as part of a family reunification process. In Arizona I completed my B.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Management from NAU. My professional goals coming to the U.S. were to continue in the tourism industry as I had previously done in Havana. Those goals changed drastically after a couple of years when I met my colleague and now wife Elena. She showed me that there was a path that could be done in the field of Latin American Studies that was interdisciplinary enough to continue growing personally and professionally that could include tourism. She was supposed to do research in some of the archives in my parts of Mexico City, Oaxaca, Taxco among many. I decided to take a chance and joined her in Mexico. To do that I did an exchange program between the University of Arizona and the Tec de Monterrey (Mexico City campus in Xochimilco) for a semester. The experience was amazing, living in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Latin America, one of the busiest, most populated, and one that has a very eclectic cuisine. Mexico City is today my favorite city in the world rivaling my birth place Havana.
2. How did you end up working for Miami and how did you decide to come to MUDEC?
I joined the Miami family in 2008. It was for me a very magical year. We were hired after Elena finished her PhD in a big cluster of faculty in the program of Latin American Studies and the History department. There were unique historical national elections that year in the U.S. and we got news that Elena and I will be becoming parents. At the end of that same academic year I joined my chair into a LAS summer workshop trip to Brazil with students. The goal was for me to become familiar with workshops in case I would like to lead some faculty-led workshops abroad to Latin America in the future. My boss left the following year to MUDEC for a year and that is how I became aware of the MUDEC program. Throughout the years I have heard from many more of my colleagues and friends that have spent time in MUDEC. I decided to apply to MUDEC and see if my proposal would be accepted. Not an easy thing because Elena and I work in the same department and that presents its own challenges. Also, as a Senior Lecturer my teaching load needed to be met, so it has been a long process for me to be here at MUDEC. We were able to be selected among great candidates to represent MUDEC this year.
3. What are you looking forward to the most while teaching at MUDEC?
Well, this is a very interesting year to say the least (pandemic, national elections) so I am looking forward to a change in pace in my daily routine. I am also in a unique position of being able to teach my students face to face. After being interrupted suddenly by the pandemic in March it feels really great to be in that space again with them. As I also integrate into life at the Chateau and in Lux in general I am more interested in peace and quiet than usual. I am looking to do many hikes, visit small cities and towns when possible. I want my children to be exposed to diversity in a way that in the U.S. is not necessarily available in rural Ohio. The fact that you can listen to three or four languages just walking the streets makes Luxembourg unique and I came looking for experiences like that. There are also other elements we do not necessarily have in Oxford like a very dynamic and free public transportation. I enjoy going into other areas of Luxembourg on the train even when it is a long trip and you have to keep your mask on.
4. What inspires you?
I am inspired by my family, friends. It is a little cliché to say these things but in times like this it makes you reflect what really matters. It is a great comfort to talk to my relatives and friends in the U.S., Havana, and some parts of Europe.
5. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
The funniest thing that has happened to me recently is the fact that we took the Covid test within the 10 days of arriving into the country of Luxembourg and because we have U.S. phones with a limited plan we forgot that and when we gave the phone number to the person gathering our information we were never able to collect the results of the test (very invasive one in the nose). So today we still do not know what the results were.
6. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a musician. Maybe in my next life.