Guatemala & Mexico: Spring 2014

  • Honey Suckle
  • Prayer Candles
  • Guatemala Weavings

Program Description

On a hillside near Cholula, Mexico, sits a beautiful church called Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. Underneath that hill, archeologists discovered religious pyramids of four preceding civilizations. This hillside is a symbol of humankind’s need to dominate but also the depth of human history which inhabits this region. Both Guatemala and Mexico were the sites of giant empires; the Mayan empire stretched across southern Mexico and Guatemala, the Aztec empire stretched across central Mexico and traced its mythological past and future to the Southwest of the United States. These empires were superseded by the Spanish conquest which imposed its language, culture and religion on the region. Currently, the forces of the United States’ economic empire – and its cultural influence – reach to every corner of the region.

In spite of national borders, the geographic proximity of Mexico, Central America, & the U.S. are small obstacles to the flow of capital, goods, commodities (such as coffee) and people. Heated debate – along with misinformation – surrounding policies and attitudes towards immigrants, undocumented workers, and the crossing of borders continues in the U.S. We will begin at the Mexico/U.S. border in partnership with Frontera de Cristo, witnessing this movement of persons and the many policy, human rights and economic implications that result, before continuing on to Guatemala. A significant amount of the semester will include Spanish study at CASAS in Guatemala City, with home family stays. Additional Spanish study and home stays will take place in Puebla, Mexico, where we will continue the exploration of religion, culture, history and economic forces at work.

Estimated Cost: on campus tuition, room and board plus $900 travel fee (cost may be adjusted due to changes in currency exchange rates and air fares)
Semester Leaders: Byron Peachey, Campus Ministries, Kiersten Rossetto and Rachel Hershey
Enrollment: 20 students
Credits: 15 semester hours


CCSSC 201 Cross-Cultural Social Science 3SH
Students will live with families and study culture in context to learn skills of adaptation and empathy, as well as ability to critique one’s host and native culture.

CCHIS 302 History of Mesoamerica 3 SH
Students will study the highlights of Pre-Columbian, colonial, independence and contemporary periods with an emphasis on the religion and empire as dominant themes in each of these periods.

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 312, 322 Adv. Conversational Spanish I & II 6 SH

CCREL 301 Religion and Culture of Mesoamerica 3 SH (CIW)
This interdisciplinary course will emphasize the interaction between various faith expressions, psychological make-up of each culture, and current social and economic realities.


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 EMU Health Services by appointment.
Immunizations may also be obtained from your local health department or primary care provider.