Centre In Mexico
Internationalizing College Faculty Through Study Abroad
Milton Reigelman, Director of International Programs
In the last decade, virtually every college and university in the country has added “global citizenship” or “cross-cultural learning” or “international focus” to its mission and strategic plan. To support this new emphasis, faculties and administrators across the country have worked furiously to “internationalize” their curricula in various ways: by setting up programs in Islamic studies or world ecology, by sponsoring faculty travel seminars to foreign places, by requiring students to achieve “competence” in a foreign language and select one course from a list of courses that might include “Japanese Film,” “The European Union Today,” “The Latin American Novel,” etc.
Study In the Yucatan
There are two options for studying abroad in Merida, Mexico, a vibrant, historic, and beautiful city on the Yucatan Peninsula, cradled between Mayan ruins and the Caribbean coast. The first is through Centre-in-the-Yucatan, and the second is through a small Spanish-immersion program at Marista University.
What makes this program unique?
1. Each student, as part of the required course, works at a site relevant to the student’s personal and professional interests, such as museums, schools, medical facilities, social organizations, the city government, or a business, etc. This means that the students’ learning and development are achieved through a personally determined experience and involvement in sites where they are immersed in local culture and where their language skills can improve dramatically.
2. All students are placed in homestays with families who have hosted Centre students for many years. Each homestay is handpicked by our on-site coordinator and matches the needs and preferences of students selected for the program. Students have access to modern bathroom and kitchen facilities and generally have their own bedroom. Mérida students universally regard this comfortable living arrangement as one of the things that make this program uniquely attractive. Their spoken language improves dramatically, and they come to regard their homestay family as a second family. Out of respect for the homestay families, students have a 2:00 a.m. curfew.
3. The Centre-planned and paid-for excursions around the Yucatan peninsula and to another area of Latin America are highlights of the program.
4. The American dollar goes much further in Mérida than it does in the U.S. Because the airfare to Mérida is much less than it is to other Centre sites, and because Centre spends about $1200 per student on Centre excursions, students have found this program to be a great value.
The Fall 2018 program begins Saturday, September 8, and concludes thirteen weeks later on Saturday, December 8. The director will meet you at the Mérida airport (or at the hotel, if you come by bus from Cancun) when you arrive on September 8 and will arrange for your transportation back to the airport to make your return flight. The best time for visitors will be determined by the director. If you arrive early or stay late, you are responsible for finding and paying for a place to stay. The director or coordinator will be happy to provide advice on where to stay. You should not ask your homestay families to stay with them after the program officially ends.
The Spring 2019 program begins on Saturday, February 9, and concludes thirteen weeks later on Saturday, May 11. The director will meet you at the Mérida airport when you arrive on February 9 and will arrange for your transportation back to the airport to make your return flight. The best time for visitors will be determined by the director. If you arrive early or stay late, you are responsible for finding and paying for a place to stay. The director or coordinator will be happy to provide advice on where to stay. You should not ask your homestay families to stay with them after the program officially ends.
The comprehensive fee (for tuition & fees, room, and board) is the same as for study in Danville, except that (1) there is a $375 non-refundable study abroad surcharge due by March 9, and (2) students pay for their own airfare to and from Mérida, which currently costs $350-$700. Fifteen dollars of the deposit/surcharge will go into the Centre carbon mitigation fund; there will also be a $20 fee for the travel medicine presentation, which all students studying abroad must attend. All financial aid arrangements in Danville continue in Mexico.
In Mérida, students live with carefully selected Mexican families who have a longstanding relationship with Centre. Each homestay is handpicked by our on-site coordinator and is matched according to the needs and preferences of students selected for the program. Students have access to modern bathroom and kitchen facilities and generally have their own bedroom. This arrangement has proven to be a highlight for Centre students in Mérida during the past few years. You will come to regard your homestay family as a second family.
Faculty Directors and Courses
The fall 2018 program will be directed by Professor Satty Flaherty-Echeverría, assistant professor of Spanish, Latin American Studies, and African and African American Studies. Prof. Flaherty-Echeverría was born and raised in Mérida. Her research and teaching interests include Afro-descendants’ literature and cultural production in the Caribbean and Latin America, African literatures written in Spanish and Portuguese, Colonial/Postcolonial literatures, Race and Black intellectualism in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds. She is a native Spanish-speaker and was immersed in the Mayan language as a child. Prof. Flaherty-Echeverría has also co-directed a 2018 CentreTerm course to Brazil. She will be accompanied by her partner, Sean, who is a native-like speaker of Spanish and has more than fourteen years of experience traveling to Yucatán and other regions of Latin America.
The spring 2019 program will be directed by Mary Daniels, professor of Spanish. She will be accompanied by her nine-year-old twins. Prof. Daniels has been a frequent traveler to Mérida since 1991 and was part of the original team who founded the Centre-in-the-Yucatán program in 1998. She has led Centre abroad programs to Nicaragua and Ecuador and has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Latin America, and Spain.
All fall 2018 students will take Cultural Diversity in Mexico, a 300–level Latin American Studies course. This course examines the cultural experiences documented in Mexican history and specifically the influences of Afro-descendants in Mexican society from 1500s to the present day. It explores the homogenization of cultures as well as the unique contributions of Africans and people of African descent to the development of Mexico as a nation. Just as the first Africans in Mexico arrived on the Yucatan Peninsula, so will students visit the ports and other sites of encounter of diverse groups. Students will also analyze primary sources from the state archives that document the lives and experiences of Africans arriving to Yucatan during the colonial period. Taught by Prof. Flaherty-Echeverría in English with no prerequisites.
All spring 2019 students will take Mexicanidad: Culture and Identity in Modern Mexico, a 300-level Latin American Studies course. This course will focus on the intersections of many cultures that have come to make up modern Mexico. Each academic unit engages with history, art, music and literature, and the course will include site visits and excursions. The class will also incorporate community-based learning.
This course will be broken down into four academic units:
1) Religion and National Identify: Students will explore the history and importance of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the ways she is both appropriated and reimagined.
2) Violence and the Mexican Body: Discusses the intersection of race and gender in Mexico and how the legacy of the conquest still inhabits modern Mexico.
3) Afro-Mexicans and the Middle: The roots of the slave trade in Mexico are found in the Yucatán peninsula. This section of the course will explore the contributions of Africans and those of African descent to nation building.
4) Visualizing a Nation: Visual art has historically been both directly and indirectly engaged in the collective formation of national identities in Mexico. We will consider “official” visual narratives of citizenship and national identity, as well as counter narratives posed by artists along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and belonging.
• All students also take a Spanish course at the appropriate level. Spanish majors may take a course in both language and literature. Below are the tentative options
Fundamentals (SPA 110)
Intermediate Spanish (SPA 210/220)
Advanced Spanish Conversation (SPA 240)
Spanish American Culture (SPA 271)
• In addition, students take two of the following courses:
1. Ancient Maya Culture (ANT 451)
Students will learn the principles and processes behind the development of universal high culture, using the example of the ancient Maya. The course traces the cultural development of the Maya prior to the conquest by Europeans in the 16th century. Taught by Prof. Fernanda Suarez.
2. Human Ecology in the Yucatan (ENS 251)
What do humans need to live in a sustainable manner for generations to come? How do the actions of the human species limit this potential? This course will focus on the sustained needs for human population: food and fiber, shelter, water, and waste disposal. Students will consider how technology and the services of natural ecosystems collaborate to provide these services in the Yucatan and compare them to strategies used elsewhere. Taught by Prof. Eduardo Galicia.
3. Merida’s Economy: Past, Present and Future (ECO 253/323). Merida is the cultural and financial capital of the Yucatan state. In this course, students will be introduced to Merida’s political, cultural, and economic history in order to understand the present state of Merida’s economy. Students will compare and contrast the economies of Merida and Mexico and analyze their economic and development challenges. Prerequisite: None for 253; ECO 110 for 323.
4. Contemporary Literature of the Yucatan: 1900 to Present (SPA 300-level). Offered fall only. This course will introduce students to foundational Yucatecan literature from the 1910s to present. Students will develop a broader understanding of national and regional elements of literature and culture in the Yucatecan context. The class will be accentuated with excursions to a variety of literary performances in local theaters and cultural centers as well as guest visits from contemporary Yucatecan writers. The course will allow students to analyze the complexities of life in the Yucatan while engaging critically with Yucatecan cultural production. Taught in Spanish by Prof. Flaherty-Echeverría.
5. 5. Latin American Icons (SPA 300-level). Offered spring only. What do a ghost, a nun, a soldier, a painter, and a revolutionary leader all have in common? They are archetypal figures that have helped form national identity. In this course, we will study Latin American icons of the colonial years, the Mexican Revolution, and the Cuban Revolution. Although we will learn about the socio-political history of these figures, the focus of the course will be how and why these figures have been re-written or (re)presented in literature, painting, music, film, and popular culture. How have these individuals become important figures of resistance and transformation in contemporary Latin America and U.S. Latin@ literature and popular culture? This course will include site visits and excursions. Taught in Spanish by Prof. Mary Daniels.
Application, Deadlines, & Requirements
• Students who have studied Spanish are given moderate preference, although students who have not studied Spanish are eligible as well.
• The application process will be discussed during the three campus-wide informational meetings on November 13, November 28, and January 9.
• Applications for 2018-2019 due no later than noon, February 6, 2018.
• Apply online at https://aegis.centre.edu/fmi/webd/#StudyAbroadApp.
• Selected students must pay the non-refundable study abroad surcharge of $375 by March 9 to reserve their spot.
Special Immersion Program at Marista
The Universidad Marista de Merida, with a student population of about 2,225, was founded in 1996 and is part of the Marist brotherhood congregation, a Catholic order founded in 1817 in France.
Students who want to improve their Spanish language skills should first seriously consider applying to the Centre-in-the-Yucatan program that runs fall/CentreTerm/spring in Merida, Mexico. In that long-standing and popular Centre program, all students do a homestay with a Spanish-speaking family and do a mini-internship in the community as part of their required course.
If you wish to apply to the Marista program, you must be independent and have very advanced Spanish speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing skills since all courses are taught in Spanish. Student applying to the immersion programs will also be vetted by our Spanish faculty.
Because the number of slots in the immersion programs are limited, you may apply at the same time to the Centre-in-the-Yucatan program in case you are not selected for an immersion program.
The fall 2018 program dates will be announced soon but will most likely begin in early August and conclude in mid-December.
The comprehensive fee (for tuition & fees, room, and board) is the same as for study in Danville, except that (1) there is a $375 non-refundable deposit/surcharge due by March 9 and (2) students pay for their own airfare to and from Mérida, which currently costs $350-$700. Fifteen dollars of the deposit/surcharge will go into the Centre carbon mitigation fund; there will also be a $20 fee for the Travel Clinic, which all students studying abroad must attend. All financial aid arrangements in Danville continue in Mexico.
As part of the Marista program, students live in a house with other international students.
Application, Deadlines, & Requirements
• Students must be independent and have very advanced Spanish speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing skills since all courses are taught in Spanish. Students applying to the immersion program will also be vetted by our Spanish faculty.
• The application process will be discussed during the three campus-wide informational meetings on November 13, November 28, and January 9. Students will apply online at https://aegis.centre.edu/fmi/webd/#StudyAbroadApp.
• Applications for 2018 are due no later than noon, February 6, 2018.
• Students must pay the non-refundable study abroad surcharge of $375 by March 9 to reserve their spot.
Spend a semester in one of nine countries: