Summary Description of Maya Immersion Programs (dates, costs, credits, homestays)
Course Details & Resources: Funding, Course Materials, Teaching Staff
Learn the Correct and Incorrect Uses of names Maya and Mayan
Learn about OSEA Maya Pedagogy and
Past Participants: Experience, Comments, Achievements
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OSEA was the pivotal experience of my PhD studies. I have participated in different capacities with OSEA. Academically, my dissertation would not have been possible without the linguistic and cultural knowledge and professional/community networks that I gained through OSEA. These studies informed many presentations, translations, and conversations. Personally, Quetzil became an important mentor for me, and I made close relationships that I continue to value with my extended host family and other members of the Pisté community. Professionally, the example of Maya people working to revalorize their language and culture in a Spanish-dominant society directly leads to the importance I place on my students’ heritage languages and cultures in my Spanish classroom in the U.S., an English-dominant country. For the same reason, I work hard to cultivate a sense of pride and confidence in my childrens’ heritage language (Spanish). As a teacher, I expose students to contemporary Maya ways of living, being, and speaking in our world, which opens students eyes when many believe the Maya are a people of the past. My final capacity with OSEA gave me the opportunity to co-create and implement an English as a Foreign Language summer program for children in the community in a culturally appropriate way and also support undergraduate students in a study abroad experience. Each of these experiences with OSEA influenced my values, world perspectives, and the experiences that I share with my students and loved ones today. I am very grateful for these opportunities.
The Open School for Ethnography and Anthropology (OSEA) in Pisté, México; has had a profound “impact” on my career. It was through the Maya language program at OSEA that I learned to speak Maya, improving upon the basic language skills I had acquired at Indiana University with Quetzil Castañeda during the previous year. The experience of speaking Maya speaking with community members and my host family made my conversation skills much stronger. Were it not for this experience, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my research on Maya language theatre in the Yucatán peninsula. It is not hyperbole to say that OSEA made my research possible – I made connections with theatre artists and community members that helped to determine the direction of my research. I am grateful for the experience that I had as an OSEA participant.
Contributions of participation in OSEA programs to personal and professional development
I participated in the OSEA-CITE Maya Language Program during the summer of 2017. Quetzil Castañeda and language instructor Edber Dzib provided daily opportunities for learning Maya in classroom, field, and self-study settings. They provided me with the knowledge and tools to pursue Maya beyond my limited time spent living in Pisté (roughly 6 weeks). The director and language instructor provided me with physical materials from sources they compiled or authored during years of research. I still have the materials at my disposal and rely on them to further my knowledge of the Maya language. Learning sessions were appropriately varied in format: we practiced skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension both in the classroom and through interacting with community members in Pisté and nearby communities.
OSEA programs provide both students and staff with knowledge, skills, and access otherwise unavailable to independent students or researchers in the peninsula. Through relationships with members of Pisté and surrounding communities that have been fostered over the course of several decades, OSEA provides opportunities for substantive, ethical engagement with populations of the region.
During my time as a student of Maya at OSEA, I lived with a homestay family. The members of my homestay family were kind and accommodating. They supported my learning by helping me to practice the language skills I was acquiring. I have stayed in contact with my homestay family and have visited them on several occasions since 2017. The homestay experience was perhaps the most rewarding dimension of my time at OSEA.
Maya language instructor Edber Dzib led students of Maya language and students of the fieldwork program on excursions to the nearby communities of Yaxunah, Valladolid, and Tihosuco. These short trips were invaluable experiences for those of us who attended. We were able to apply the skills we honed in the classroom through social interactions in varied settings: during small family gatherings, bustling city plazas and markets, community cultural centers, and in special events such as the Caste War Memorial Celebration in Tihosuco’s main square. Instructor Edber Dzib crafted challenging assignments for us to complete during these excursions. For example, my learning partner Alessio Fasullo and I initiated conversations in Maya with passersby in Tihosuco to inquire regarding their places of birth, families, and professions. Since we were both interested in local lore, we also spoke with Maya speakers about their beliefs and experiences regarding aluxes, mischievous guardian spirits who are called upon to protect milpas and sacred sites and objects.
I returned to OSEA in 2019 and in 2020 as a Spanish instructor. These experiences were valuable to my professional development because they allowed me to develop my own teaching materials which I tailored to the needs of students according to the particularities of the social environment. These experiences allowed me to further develop my relationships with members of the community. As an instructor in a challenging study-abroad environment, I assisted in mitigating issues that arose with students of the program who were adapting to the climate and culture of the region through conversations with homestay families and OSEA staff.
Check here to read ACTFL proficiency criteria for Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking
Check here for FLAS criteria of Minority Language Proficiency Objectives
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Download Remote Intensive Maya Program Syllabus (2021)