Fall 2013 and Spring 2014
At church in a small town near the village of Teotitlan del Valle,
Oaxaca, streamers were put up for Dia de los Muertos. Photo by
Students taking part in the Centre-in-the-Yucatan program often
snorkel in the region's many cenotes.
A bullfight in Merida, captured by Paige Farris
Location. The Centre-in-the-Yucatan program is based in Mérida, Mexico, a vibrant, historic, and beautiful city of one million people on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Its location near both Mayan ruins and the Caribbean coast has for many years made it the ideal spot for Centre’s residential program in a Spanish-speaking environment. Merida was named a "City of Peace" by the United Nations in January 2011.
Housing in Mérida. In Mérida, students live with carefully selected Mexican families in middle class or upper middle class neighborhoods. 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. (To see what a past Centre-in-the-Yucatan student says about the homestay experience, click here.)
Program Excursions. Centre spends about $1,500 per student on special opportunities for students in the Yucatan and in Mexico, including two short excursions. The first excursion typically occurs near the beginning of the program and introduces students to the Yucatan peninsula and its coastal regions. The second excursion typically occurs later in the program and introduces students to another area. Centre-in-the-Yucatan students often travel on their own in small groups after letting the director know where they will be and who they will be traveling with. Centre requires any student who wishes to travel overnight alone—without at least one other student—to have a parent e-mail the director giving permission.
Eligibility. Although this is not a program designed primarily for Spanish majors (or even students who have taken Spanish), the selection committee often gives some preference to students who have studied Spanish. Students without any Spanish who are accepted for the fall program take Spanish 110 in Mérida; those without any Spanish who are accepted for the spring program must take Spanish 110 in Danville for a grade during the fall term; failure to do so will result in being dropped from the spring program. All students find that their spoken Spanish improves dramatically during the time in Mérida because of the homestay arrangement.
Program Dates for Fall 2013. The Fall 2013 program begins Saturday, September 7, and concludes on Monday, December 2. The director will meet you at the Mérida airport when you arrive on September 7 and will arrange for your transportation back to the airport to make your December 2 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.
Program Dates for Spring 2014. The Spring 2014 program begins on Saturday, February 8, and concludes on Monday, May 5. Before classes begin, the group will travel to Isla Mujeres, Chichen Itza, and Ek Balam. Spring Break will be March 22-30, and the group will travel to Cuba from April 14-22. The director will meet you at the Mérida airport when you arrive on February 8 and will arrange for your transportation back to the airport to make your May 5 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.
Director and Courses:
Both fall and spring semesters will be directed by Dr. Genny Ballard, Associate Professor of Spanish, who has led student groups to Latin America and twice directed the Centre-in-the-Yucatan program. Prof. Ballard was instrumental in setting up the service-based learning Mérida class, in which students work in the community in schools, museums, hospitals, galleries, and government offices, and also in setting up the CentreTerm Mérida internship program. She has an impressive knowledge of Latin America, having first worked there in the Peace Corps and having returned many times in various capacities.
The course all students will take, taught by Dr. Ballard, will be Humanities 258, Life in Merida and Beyond. Students will work four hours a week at a worksite aligned with their academic, professional, and personal interests. The museums, churches, art galleries, and nearby ancient Maya sites of the Mérida area will be important resources for the course. In addition, Centre will sponsor an excursion around the Yucatan peninsula and to another area of the country as part of this course.
All students also take a Spanish course at the appropriate level. Spanish majors may take a course in both language and literature:
Spanish 110 (Fundamentals) (offered in fall only; spring students who have not had Spanish must take Spanish 110 for a grade in the fall at Centre)
Spanish 210/220 (Intermediate)
Spanish 240 (Advanced Spanish Conversation)
Spanish 270 (Spanish American Culture)
Spanish 360 (20th-Century Latin American Literature)
In addition, students select two of the following courses:
1. Anthro 451: Ancient Maya Culture. 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. ENS 251: Human Ecology in the Yucatan. 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. A second Spanish course.
Pre-Departure Training. Selected students will attend three required pre-departure meetings this spring and/or next fall. These meetings will prepare you for living and studying in another culture and give you a head start on your common course. Students selected will continue to prepare through individual reading over the summer.
Caveat: Lack of Counseling Support Abroad. The kind of counseling and support services available on campus are not available abroad. Because any significant life transition can exacerbate and complicate already existing mental health issues, students who are currently on psychotropic medication and/or have been in mental health counseling are encouraged to consider participating in the three-week Early Summer Strasbourg program or one of the CentreTerm programs abroad. In addition, those students are urged to meet with a Centre Student Assistance Program counselor prior to their leaving, to develop a support plan for their time abroad.
Cost. The comprehensive fee (for tuition & fees, room, and board) is the same as for study in Danville, except that 1) there is a $350 surcharge to help defray the $1,500 costs of the excursions that Centre pays for, and 2) students pay for their own airfare to and from Mérida, which currently costs $400-$500. All financial aid arrangements in Danville continue in Mexico. Students with remaining loan eligibility are eligible to borrow additional money for educational expenses. Also, remember that you may be able to save some money by canceling your automobile insurance while away.
Spending money. Past Centre-in-Yucatan students have suggested bringing about $1,000-$1,500 to spend on some lunches, souvenirs, phone cards, photocopied readings for classes, Internet cafes, occasional restaurant meals, and personal travel. You will receive a small allowance sufficient for bus fares during school days. Your home-stay families will provide you with at least two meals each day. On group excursions, two meals a day are also generally covered by Centre.
Medical Insurance. Students studying abroad through any Centre program receive travel and accident insurance at no additional cost. Centre’s Study Abroad Insurance, while provided through EIIA (Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators), is administered through AIG Assist. Every student studying abroad with Centre College receives an AIG Assist contact and information card as well as a passport sticker. Each has the Centre insurance policy number, which is the only information needed to receive services. The categories of coverage provided are: accident and sickness ($100,000 limit with a $250 deductible); emergency medical evacuation and emergency family travel ($100,000 limit); accidental death and disability ($200,000 limit); and repatriation of remains ($100,000 limit). For specific questions, please contact the International Programs office at 859.238.5285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book Air Tickets Early to Save Money. Students in the past have generally been able to find economical round-trip air tickets. Some have found studentuniverse.com, statravel.com, cheapflights.com, or hipmunk.com helpful sites. Book early for the lowest prices.
Internet, Laptops, and Cyber Cafes. Computers and internet connections are less available in Centre’s study-abroad programs than they are in Danville. Indeed, if you expect to spend huge amounts of time Facebooking and Skyping, you should reconsider applying, since the point of this program is to immerse yourself in a different culture. Students in Mérida do have access to computers with internet connections in the classroom building, and may also, for a small expense, use cyber cafes throughout the city. Wireless access to the internet may also be available at the classroom facility. Although you may turn in all work hand-written, if you own a laptop, you should definitely bring it.
Grades/Independent Studies. Mid-term warning grades of D or U are issued after the sixth week of the term, just as in Danville. All Mexico courses count in the GPA, just as in Danville. The Pass-Unsatisfactory option is not available in any Centre study abroad program. Only students whose schedules require that they take a particular course not offered in Mérida in order to graduate on time have the possibility of arranging an independent study with a Centre professor in Danville.
Pre-Registration/Convocation Credits. While in Mérida, you pre-register for future courses via e-mail with your regular academic advisor. You will automatically be credited with six convocation credits during your term abroad.
Passport. If you do not currently have a passport that will remain valid for at least one month after your return, you should begin the process of obtaining one as soon as you are selected. In the recent past, some students have waited three months to receive a passport, even though the passport agency has stated that it will take 6-8 weeks. Do it now!
How to Apply. Application and faculty recommendation forms may be picked up at one of the campus-wide informational meetings on November 19, November 27, or January 3—or in the cabinet in the Davidson Room of Old Carnegie. Turn in your completed application at the study abroad office no later than noon on February 5. Students who are selected must pay the non-refundable $350 deposit/surcharge to the Cashier's Office in Boles Hall by March 5 to hold their spot in the program.
To see photos from past Centre-in-the-Yucatan experiences, click here.