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Program Description

Participants in the Central American semester will experience two windows into another world - the world of Guatemala and Nicaragua; a world with a diversity of people, religion, economic status and a history of revolutions.

EMU students will spend significant time with CASAS (Central American Study and Service), a cross-cultural study program in Guatemala. The first two months, participants will live with families in Guatemala City while studying Spanish and learning about the culture, history and issues facing the people of Guatemala. In addition, there will be a special focus on peace-building efforts by Catholic, Protestant and Mayan groups. Special attention will be given to relating to and understanding the Guatemalan Anabaptist churches.

In the final three weeks of the CASAS program, students will be placed with organizations throughout Guatemala for a learning/service assignment. Options include working in a health clinic, women's cooperative, appropriate technology center, orphanage, or in the construction of homes. The work setting is selected with students once they are in Guatemala.

Following this time of intensive Spanish study, students will travel independently for one week within Guatemala or neighboring Mexico, Honduras, Belize or El Salvador.

At the beginning of April, the group will meet in Managua for two weeks in Nicaragua, south of Guatemala. Students will be paired with students from the Polytechnic University in Managua to work in common academic and service projects. Nicaragua has a unique history closely intertwined with that of the U.S. This experience will serve as a means of comparing contrasting Central American countries. The EMU group will return to Guatemala in time for Holy Week activities in Antigua and a final retreat at Lake Atitlán to reflect on the new relationships and understandings from the semester and discern individual/group responses.

Semester Leaders: Jim and Ann Hershberger

Enrollment: maximum 25 students

Course Credits: 15 Semester Hours

Course Descriptions:

CCus 202 Cross-Cultural Understanding 3 SH

In Guatemala, 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.

Spanish Language - Six semester hours at one of the following levels (placement based on previous knowledge):

  • CCSPA 102, 112 Elementary Spanish I & II 6 SH
  • CCSPA 202, 212 Intermediate Spanish I & II 6 SH
  • CCSPA 302, 312 Advanced Conversational Spanish I & II 6 SH

CCHUM History of Central America 3 SH

Students will study the highlights of Pre-Columbus, colonial, independence and contemporary periods. This will be the foundation for our understanding of current events and problems.

CCPSC Contemporary Issues 3 SH

This interdisciplinary course will emphasize the interaction between Catholic, Protestant (including Mennonite), and Mayan faith expressions; the current political and economic climate; and how music, literature, and art reflect current issues.