Mérida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, has a rich Mayan and colonial heritage.


Centre-in-Mexico is located in Mérida, Mexico, a vibrant, historic, and beautiful city on the Yucatan Peninsula, cradled between Mayan ruins and the Caribbean coast. Students have two study pathways to choose from. The first is Centre-in-the-Yucatan, and the second is through a small Spanish-immersion program at Marista University.


female student near a pyramid in the Yucatan


  • 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.
  • All students are placed in homestays in upper-middle class families that 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.
  • The Centre-planned and paid-for excursions around the Yucatan peninsula are highlights of the program. Recent programs have also spent a week in Cuba, an unforgettable experience in this time of transition for our Caribbean neighbor.
Merida city Town hall of Yucatan in Mexico

Marista University

  • The Universidad Marista de Mérida, 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.
  • The Marista program is a great option for independent very advanced Spanish speaking students. Spanish comprehension, reading, and writing skills are a must since all courses are taught in Spanish.

More Program Details


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.

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)
  • Spanish 120
  • 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. 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.

Marista University

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.