Guatemala & Mexico: Spring 2015
The geographic proximity of Mexico, Central America, and the U.S. are small obstacles to the flow of capital, culture, goods, commodities (such as coffee), and of course, people – who sometimes become migrants. Heated debate surrounding policy reform, new legislation, and attitudes towards immigrants and the crossing of national borders is current not only in the U.S. but in many other regions of the world. We will begin at the U.S./Mexico border in partnership with Frontera de Cristo, exploring realities of the borderlands and the many policy, human rights, and economic complexities found there. We then will travel to Guatemala for a significant portion of the semester to study Spanish with CASAS in Guatemala City, along with family home stays. Spending eight weeks in Guatemala gives opportunity to focus on Mayan history and culture, the fascinating, multiple cross-currents of religious beliefs and practices within Guatemalan society, as well as facing the dramatic divide between the wealthy elite and widespread poverty, both rural and urban.
The final portion of the semester is yet to be determined. After the intensive urban experience, we hope to explore a region of Central America which is protected in its natural state of tropical forest and coastland. In addition to further Spanish study, we may study dynamics surrounding “eco-tourism” and its impact on local cultures and communities.
Estimated Cost: on campus tuition, room and board plus $1,650 travel fee (cost may be adjusted due to changes in currency exchange rates and air fares)
Semester Leaders: Byron Peachey
Enrollment: 22 students
Credits: 15 semester hours
CCSSC 201 Cross-Cultural Social Science 3SH
Individuals of any culture are shaped and socialized into a particular worldview – or sometimes conflicting worldviews. People of the U.S. frequently assume their worldview is more true, even superior, to others. A primary goal is to open oneself to experiencing reality from various worldviews – Harrisonburg, the border, and within Central America. We will observe, interact with, study, and listen to people whose values, communication patterns, ways of knowing and worldview have been shaped by a different culture and personal experiences – though one influenced by U.S. culture.
CCHIS 302 Immigration, Globalization, Human Mobility 3 SH
Global changes in technology and political economies have led to an acceleration of human mobility worldwide. On the local level in Virginia, this is experienced as rapid social change as people from diverse backgrounds are brought into contact with one another. This course will explore tensions and challenges in the Shenandoah Valley, as well as on the U.S.-Mexico border. Students will examine historical immigration patterns, and experience of “both sides” of the immigration debate. The goal of the course is both to unsettle conventional ideas about immigration and immigrants, and to see how human mobility and globalization touch all of our lives.
SPANISH LANGUAGE: Six semester hours at one of the following levels (placement based on previous knowledge):
CCSPA 110, 120 Elementary Spanish I & II 6 SH
CCSPA 210, 220 Intermediate Spanish I & II 6 SH
CCSPA 310, 320 Adv. Conversational Spanish I & II 6 SH
CCREL 304 Religious Faith, Culture & Economics in Central America 3SH (CIW)
Directed fieldwork, reading, personal interaction and participant observation will enable students to examine the interaction of religion, culture and economics in Central America. Studies will focus on the influence of wealth and poverty on distinct theologies which have developed, and on current church practices especially the Anabaptist/Mennonite churches in Central America. Students will also explore the role of faith in understandings of border/immigration issues. Cross-cultural experience will help students discern their own religious assumptions, how those assumptions have been shaped by culture and privilege, and challenge students to view the Judeo-Christian tradition through the lens of poverty and suffering.
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