Guatemala & U.S./Mexico Border: Spring 2011

Students will explore two contemporary global issues: increasing human mobility across national borders, and the urgency for learning intercultural skills in a global context.

One of the most heated issues in the U.S. – and the Shenandoah Valley – is the debate surrounding policies and attitudes towards immigrants, undocumented workers, and the crossing of national borders. Many of these immigrants come from Mexico and Central America. We will begin with an introduction to some of the tensions and realities of immigrants here in the Harrisonburg area, then spend several days at the Mexico/U.S. border witnessing this movement of persons and the many policy, human rights and economic implications that result, before continuing on to Central America.

In Guatemala, students will spend significant time with CASAS, a Spanish & cross-cultural study program. The first two months participants will live with families in Guatemala City while studying Spanish, along with culture, history and religious faith of Guatemalan society. In the final three weeks of the CASAS program, students will be placed with organizations throughout Guatemala for a service learning assignment. Options include working in settings that are tied directly to human migration issues as well as health clinics, women’s cooperatives, exporting businesses, appropriate technology centers, orphanages, or home construction.

In the final weeks the group will explore once again the issues of crossing borders, human mobility and will be asked to examine the changes in one’s worldview about immigration, human rights and economic implications of immigration after experiencing the realities of Central America.

Estimated Cost: on campus tuition, room and board plus $2,500 travel fee (cost may be adjusted due to changes in currency exchange rates and air fares)
Semester Leaders: Deanna Durham and Byron Peachey
Enrollment: 22 students
Credits: 15 semester hours

Course Descriptions

CCSSC 201 Cross-cultural Social Science 3SH
Human beings 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 the more true, even superior, than 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. Language acquisition, home stays, and a relationship with a host family greatly facilitate the development of cross-cultural understanding, along with deeper understanding of one’s own worldview.

CCSOC 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 those of immigrants who have come to the Valley. Travel will include time on the southwest U.S.-Mexico border with intensive 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.

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.

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 & II 6 SH

Recommended Immunizations

Malaria risk in Guatemala: risk in rural areas only at altitudes below 1,500 m (<4,921 ft). No risk in Guatemala City, Antigua or Lake Atitlán.

Malaria risk in Mexico: risk is limited to areas infrequently visited by travelers including small foci along the Guatemala and Belize borders in the states of Chiapas, Quintana Roo, and Tabasco; rural areas in the states of Nayarit, Oaxaca, Sinaloa; and in an area between 24°N and 28°N latitude, and 106°W and 110°W longitude, which lies in parts of Sonora, Chihuahua, and Durango. No malaria risk exists along the United States-Mexico border. No malaria risk exists in the major resorts along the Pacific and Gulf coasts. Risk is very limited; therefore, prophylaxis is not recommended for most travelers to Mexico.

Immunizations and prescriptions may be obtained at the EMU Health Center by appointment.
Immunizations may also be obtained from your local health department or primary care provider.