Immersion and Home-Stays
The concept of Immersion in study abroad or international exchange programs is typically conceived in terms of home-stays with families that are native speakers of the language being learned. This understanding is primarily created by overseas programs that are located in developed European countries and cities. Host families are mostly middle class families that have a life-style and a household infrastructure that is comparable to the living conditions that westerners and in particular, US students, are familiar. In under-developed societies, such as rural Yucatan, parallel middle class conditions for homestays that also use Maya as the primary language cannot often be meet.
Homestays in primarily Maya speaking households that have a modicum of privacy, a minimum standard of comfort, and amenities (ranging from bathrooms, showers, and fans to modern kitchens and toilet seats) are at a premium in Yucatán. It is difficult enough to live in a different and unfamiliar culture and language for nearly seven weeks. But to have in addition, a physically uncomfortable living situation could impinge on versus augment effective learning of Maya. It would certainly disrupt concentrated and disciplined focus. We at OSEA do not believe therefore that a homestay is necessary for you to attain your immersion learning objectives.
Total cultural and linguistic immersion without home-stays. By living full time in the Maya community of Pisté students are completely immersed in Maya language and culture. In addition to the classroom hours, each student is individually situated with a Maya speaking family in order to share and experience the everyday routines of that family, including the main meal of the day. Students also have structured time with trained native Maya speaking assistants with whom individual language instruction based in conversation exercises and drills are conducted. Students have the the opportunity to develop friendships and relationships with members of the community. Students therefore become immersed in everyday life and engage Maya language in everyday activities.
Overnight Stays. OSEA is the leader in developing a unique pedagogy with the the concept and practice of the Overnight Stay. The short-term, homestay with a Maya family in a rural setting is an ideal means to have the experience of total linguistic immersion in a self-contained, managable, and structured format. It allows students to have a deep cultural immersion experience without disruptive culture shock. Students in Level I Begnning can opt for a brief two-night/three day homestay experience with a primarily monolingual Maya speaking family, typically of lesser socioeconomic means, in one of the rancherias or smaller villages in greater Pisté microregion. The brief homestay or structured overnight allows students to gain a profound, hands-on, experiential knowledge of Maya culture, increase their language learning and experience a dramatically different way of life. Student participants in Levels II, III and IV, that is, Intermediate, Advanced and Superior have two or more of these built into the program.
Students in higher levels of Maya often have specific research interests that require special attention. The overnight can be a means for participants to develop contacts and relationships with persons and families that would greatly advance the participants research process.
Overview of OSEA Homestays
Home-stays with Maya families are carefully selected based on the Program Director’s 24 years of experience in the community of Pisté and in the neighboring communities. OSEA has carefully developed a list of Maya families where home stays are possible. The overall size of the population of Pisté greatly restricts the number of families that can be potential host families. OSEA works with families whose household economy provides for a basic minimum of "creature-comfort" infrastructure -- which includes a variety of factors from bathrooms, showers, fans, space for study areas, privacy, and other criteria. OSEA also works with families of lower socioeconomic position in the greater Pisté region who thereby lack many of these amenities to which US students are accustomed. These mostly monolingual Maya speaking families are ideal for the Overnight Stay during the Summer Intensive Maya Language Immersion Program. Participants are required to purchase a hammock for sleeping in homestays or for overnight stays. OSEA organizes a hammock shopping trip in the first days of the program.
Summer Intensive Maya Language Immersion Program
OSEA does not locate participants for the duration of the summer program in Homestays except under special circumstances. Under no conditions are students of Level I Beginning granted homestays. Students in higher levels of Maya can make special request for a full program homestay. These are only granted at the discretion of the OSEA after an evaluation process that entails a written statement of purpose and a video-conference interview with the OSEA Staff. This process ensures that an appropriate fit between student needs of match available situations for Homestays. In any and all cases, however, OSEA does not guarantee that a homestay match can be made and reserves the right to not provide homestays for an applicant.
SELT Teaching English Service Learning Program
Participants in SELT Service Learning are not eligible for individual homestays. SELT Participants are provided room and board in the Posada Olalde, with options for single or shared double. OSEA reserves the right to provide lodging at another location of comparable quality. This may include the shared occupancy of all participants in an OSEA house rented for the SELT participants. In either case, all meals are included in the program fees.
Click Here to read about non-Home-Stay Lodging in Pisté