Guatemala and Cuba Spring 2018

Guatemala & Cuba: Spring 2018


Program Description

During this cross-cultural semester, we will experience three very different Spanish-speaking countries – Guatemala, Cuba and the Mexico/US borderlands. Through homestays, intensive language study, field trips and regular reflection, we will have the opportunity to build relationships and learn in three locations with diverse populations, religions, economies and histories. The geographic proximity of Mexico, Central America, and the U.S. are small obstacles to the flow of capital, culture, goods, commodities, and of course, people – who sometimes become migrants. With very recent changes in US policy towards Cuba, we will explore the complex historic past, and future opportunities for intercambio between Cuba and the U.S. Students will think critically about the interrelatedness of migration, poverty, oppression and the role of religion. We will be challenged and inspired by individuals and groups working at education, community development and cross-cultural understanding in each location.

EMU students will begin with 10 days at the border, then 8 weeks with CASAS (Central American Study and Service), a cross-cultural language program in Guatemala. Following intensive Spanish study, students will have a week of independent travel in small groups in the region before their 2-week experience in Cuba, hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in La Habana.


Estimated Cost: on campus tuition, room and board plus $2,200 travel fee (cost may be adjusted due to changes in currency exchange rates and air fares)
Semester Leaders: Byron Peachey and Lisa King
Enrollment: 22 students
Credits: 15 semester hours

Explore Guatemala & Cuba: photos and journals

Course Descriptions

CCSSC 201 Cross-Cultural Social Science 3 SH
In both countries, 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 native and host cultures.

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

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 the Shenandoah Valley, this is experienced as rapid social change as people from diverse backgrounds are brought into contact with one another. 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 Religion, Culture and Economics in Guatemala, Cuba & the Border(CIW) 3 SH
This interdisciplinary course emphasizes the interaction between Catholic, Protestant (including Mennonite), and Indigenous faith expressions; current political and economic climate; peacebuilding initiatives; and local music, literature, and art. Students will also explore the role of faith in gang and immigration issues.


Health Risks

  • Zika virus is a risk in Guatemala.

Pregnant women should not travel to Guatemala because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.
Partners of pregnant women and couples planning pregnancy should know possible risks to pregnancy and take preventive steps. Before travel, those planning pregnancy should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider.
All travelers should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during and after their trip. Travelers should also use condoms during and after their trip to prevent sexual transmission of Zika. This will protect against getting Zika while traveling and stop its spread to others back home.

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.

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