Merida, Centre study abroad location, named a U.N. City of Peace
Merida, Mexico, one of three cities where Centre College conducts full-term study abroad programs, has recently been named a “City of Peace” by the United Nations.
In a statement issued by the City of Merida, the news was announced that the city was chosen as one of 100 “cities of peace” worldwide. “With the premise of helping to keep the peace and security that identifies Merida in the country and in the world,” the statement begins, “Mayor Angelica Lara Araujo received the distinction given to the capital of Yucatan as ‘City of Peace’ with the raising of the flag that was awarded by the United Nations.”
It goes on to report that “in this event, which gathered together hundreds of Meridians, the Mayor said the city could not have received a better gift at the 469th anniversary of its founding, than the recognition of its hospitality, security, peace and culture that distinguishes it from other parts of the country and the world.”
The chairman of the Committee of the Banner of Peace also spoke, telling the audience, “The people of Merida should be proud to live in ideal place for their families where there are no negative situations that risk their integrity or lower the quality of life.”
Since the Centre-in-the-Yucatan (formally called Centre-in-Mexico) program began, students have had outstanding experiences in the city of Merida, where they live with local families and attend classes led by Centre professors.
Zach Ford ’12, who recently studied abroad through Centre-in-the-Yucatan, says that “the most unique aspect of the program is that you shed the tourist cloak. You have the opportunity to live in a home with a family for three months. You don’t just go to class during the week and travel on the weekend; you become a truly engaged member of society.”
Like Ford, junior Ethan Epping says that immersing himself in the culture was extremely rewarding. “I think what I most enjoyed was the ability to really dive into the culture throughout the Yucatan,” he says. “As cliché as it may sound, I really felt like I was able to immerse myself and walk away with a far deeper understanding of Mexican and Yucatecan society, culture and identity than I ever would have with a shorter time abroad.”
Spending three months in the Mexican city allows students to clearly understand how Merida is a place of “hospitality, security, peace and culture.” And by studying the city’s history and experiencing the culture first-hand, students quickly came to regard the city as exceptional.
“In my ‘Spanish conversation’ class,” he says, “we were required to read the Sunday edition of the Diario de Yucatan, which is one of the local newspapers, so that we were aware of current events. In my anthropology course we were taught the rich history of the Maya civilization, which is still extremely relevant, as they hold a strong presence in Yucatan and throughout Mexico. We weren’t just learning facts and memorizing them: we were learning about a fascinating culture and how to be functioning members within it.”