Yucatec Maya Summer Institute 2018

Each year, the Yucatec Maya Summer Institute enables students from across the United States to learn Mexico’s second most widely spoken indigenous language from native speakers and local professors. This year’s program got started last week with four beginning students meeting in Chapel Hill and two advanced students in Mérida Yucatán. Throughout the next six weeks, they will work toward proficiency in spoken Yucatec Maya through daily classes, home visits, guest speakers, and excursions.

Level 2 students Molly Hilton and Felipe Acosta Muñoz explore Kabah on a Saturday excursion along the Ruta Puuc, through the grottoes of Loltun, and into the local town of Dzan.

Members of the nonprofit organization InHerit join us for a welcome dinner in Mérida.

Students and instructors begin class on Friday with a shared breakfast of boox janal (relleno negro).

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Mexico Study Tour Helps NC Public School Teachers Bring Global Dimension to Classroom

Thank you to our friends at UNC Global. To see the original article, click here

Mexico Study Tour participant Carrie McMillan of Durham Public Schools talks with students at Escuela Mátires de Chicago, a public school in Progreso, Mexico.

In the three years since a group of teachers traveled to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to learn about a different education system and broaden their perspectives, they and their K-12 students are still reaping the benefits.

Betty Brandt Rouse, an English as a second language (ESL) teacher at Creekside Elementary School in Durham, recently reflected on a Mexico Study Tour she and fellow teachers took in 2014. “We were able to [talk] with teachers in Mexico and learn a lot about how their school system differs from our school system,” she said, “and to get to actually see it and be there hands-on. It was a really powerful experience.”

Rouse was one of eight North Carolina public school teachers who participated in the Mexico Study Tour organized by the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, a collaboration between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute for the Study of the Americas and Duke University Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Participants attended a series of pre-trip workshops to prepare them for the experience. Once in Mexico, they spent nine days meeting with Mexican educators, visiting schools and historic sites, and engaging in multicultural experiences such as homestays and cooking classes.

Emily Chávez, outreach program coordinator for the consortium, designed and led the study tour with assistance from the site coordinator, Mariana Domínguez.

A teacher at Escuela Mátires de Chicago in Progreso, Mexico, works with a group of primary school students.

“I wanted the teachers to better understand their role as North Carolina teachers within a global context—and to understand that our lives and our privileges in the U.S. are inevitably intertwined with the people of Latin America and Mexico in particular,” explained Chávez. “I wanted the teachers to have a variety of experiences that got them thinking about the role of history, the role of political power, who shapes education, and what it means and what it takes to retain Maya culture and language within and outside Maya communities.”

One aspect of the program was creating new curriculum to implement in the classroom. Nicole Emmert, teacher librarian and school testing coordinator at Oak Lane Elementary School in Hurdle Mills, incorporated aspects of Maya culture and art into library studies. She’s installed art from around the world and has created exploratory centers and clubs based on the culture and ideas of other countries.

“I have maps and globes everywhere in the library for students to study and explore,” Emmert said. “They are more interested in other countries and ways of life now. Students are less intimidated about the idea of travel.”

Rouse brought back artifacts from her time in Mexico that she incorporates into her lessons—instruments, Maya toys and games, indigenous clothing, money and children’s books written in Mayan and English.

“The big point of the unit was students being able to tell how their lives are similar and different from kids’ lives in Mexico,” Rouse said. “One part was about sports, and one was including Maya literature…we took [that] compare-and-contrast and turned that into a literacy unit.”

North Carolina K-12 educators participating in the Mexico Study Tour await instruction at Instituto Mexico, a private school in Mérida, Mexico.

By adding these multicultural components to her lessons, through pictures and other objects, and drawing on her experiences abroad, Rouse is better able to connect to students in her ESL classes. Rouse has traveled to several of the places her students are from, including Mexico, Guatemala and parts of Africa. Experiencing different cultures has helped her become more accepting of difference, particularly in the classroom.

“Being able to get out of your little bubble and being able to be in and see another place and another perspective is very beneficial for teachers,” Rouse said. “The more you understand parts of the world, the more you realize how many different ways there are to do something, and the fewer assumptions you have for each of your students…You begin to see that there is a different story behind each person.”

Emmert agrees that these life lessons were an invaluable part of the Mexico Study Tour experience.

“I’m more laid back now, and I know that teaching life and social skills is just as important—if not more so, actually—as teaching curriculum,” Emmert said. “I’ve learned to take time to listen and learn from everyone you meet.”

“The Mexico Study Tour is one way the Consortium has worked with the K-12 community to strengthen and add depth to the way North Carolinians learn and teach about Latin America and Latin American communities,” explained Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz, executive director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas. “The combination of UNC and Duke’s scholarly expertise in the region and the immersive nature of the visit makes the tour a particularly effective learning tool for educators.

The Mexico Study Tour was made possible with funding from the U.S. Department of Education Title VI program for National Resource Centers.

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2017 Yucatec Maya Institute Photo Gallery

Modern Yucatec Maya is a modern language spoken by people living in the Yucatán Peninsula and northern Belize. Sponsored by the UNC-Duke Consortium, the Yucatec Maya Summer Institute offers beginning, intermediate and advanced level instruction of modern Yucatec Maya. The courses are open to students, faculty, and the public.

The Maya Summer Institute offers an intensive language learning environment that provides a solid foundation in Yucatec Maya combined with a field-based, experiential program. From beginning to advanced classes, students participate in meaningful engagement with Yucatec Maya communities through a combination of classroom and field activities. Students visit a range of important historic and cultural locations. Trips to archeological and colonial sites as well as other contemporary Mayan villages are led by Maya scholars, who will introduce them to the cultural importance of each site. Mérida, the beautiful capital of the state of Yucatán, offers both modern and historic aspects of city life. Izamal was an important site of pre-Columbian civilization. Today, Maya is the first language in the homes of the majority of the people of Izamal. Valladolid is home to an innovative Maya culture and language program that promotes intercultural learning and trains a new generation of Maya-speaking students. Xocen, situated 12 kilometers southeast of Valladolid, is located in the milpa area of the Mexican state of Yucatán. It is an ancient town that played a key role in the Caste War, a 50-yeat revolt of native Maya people against the political and economic forces controlling the region.

We hope you will enjoy photos from the 25th Yucatec Maya Institute below. Many thanks to Director Hannah Palmer for sharing!


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Yucatec Maya students make connections

The Level 2 students of the Yucatec Maya  Institute deepened their knowledge of the continuity between ancient and contemporary Maya culture last week through an excursion to the archeological sites of Uxmal and Mayapán.  They were joined by a group of students studying Education and Migration under Dr. Patricia Baquedano-López of the University of California at Berkeley. The trip was enriched by the contributions of archeologist Felipe Chan Chi, whose family has lived alongside the Uxmal site for generations and who offered privileged insight into the purpose, function, and symbolism of the historic structures, and by Dr. Juan Castillo Cocom, who made a surprise appearance at Mayapan to explain how oral accounts of ancient events serve competing power interests today. The day’s activities fostered unique conversations about the conditions under which the Yucatec Maya language has developed and continues to flourish.

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LTAM Major Spotlight: Raina Enrique

The Latin American Studies Undergraduate major (LTAM) provides students with the opportunity to master multiple methodological skills and acquire the language competence through which to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the Latin American and Caribbean experience. In preparing students for public and private sector careers, LTAM alumni have gotten jobs in the U.S. State Department in a number of different Latin American countries, transnational companies that operate in the US and Latin America, and in non-profit organizations that work with migrants in the United States.


Raina Enrique, class of 2017

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Raina Enrique, class of 2017 LTAM and Psychology double major, who departs for Peru August 2017 to serve in the Peace Corps.

Originally from Orlando, Florida, Enrique entered UNC Chapel Hill as an undergraduate student in 2013 and took LTAM 101. She was quickly inspired to pursue the major.

“It was like a match lit within me,” Enrique said. “I learned things I had never been exposed to before.”

With personal ties and interests in Latin America, Enrique identified with the subject and wanted to pursue learning more about LTAM history, politics, and perspectives, which included not only how the United States saw Latin America, but also how Latin America saw the United States. She quickly developed a passion for the region, and sought out an international experience to study Yucatec Maya abroad.

“Going to Mexico was my first time leaving the country,” Enrique said. ” Once I was there, it clicked with me and the experience really tweaked my passion.”


Enrique received a FLAS award to study a second summer in the Yucatan.

Enrique liked the Yucatec Maya program so much, she went again as a FLAS recipient. Having had such a transformative experience learning an indigenous language and culture, Enrique applied to the Peace Corps with the intent on working with indigenous populations in Latin America.

“I loved the culture, the story, and the history,” Enrique said. “I still use my Maya today when I talk to my friends.”

In applying for the Peace Corps, Enrique requested to work with indigenous populations in Latin America. She will officially get that chance as she accepted an opportunity to serve in Peru as a Peace Corp youth development facilitator. In this position, Enrique will also add a fifth language of Quechua to her already existing skills in Portuguese, Spanish, Maya, and English.

Although she has not yet graduated, Enrique is looking ahead. She hopes to eventually earn a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology after taking this spring’s APPLES Global Course Guanajuato. Enrique said the LTAM major gave her the flexibility to tailor her interests in the Maya region and Mexico, and pull from many departments for a well-rounded perspective. Overall, Enrique said the LTAM major is enriching to learning.

“Not only is LTAM one of the majors that will change your perspective, it will also subsequently change your heart,” Enrique said.

Thank you for speaking with us, Raina! We look forward to the great things you will do!

FLAS fellowships fund the study of less commonly taught languages and area studies coursework. This program provides academic year and summer fellowships to assist graduate students and advanced undergraduates in foreign language and area studies. The goals of the fellowship program include: (1) to assist in the development of knowledge, resources and trained personnel for modern foreign language and area/international studies; (2) to stimulate the attainment of foreign language acquisition and fluency; and (3) to develop a pool of international experts to meet national needs.

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Yucatec Maya Academic Program Director honored


“”We must change the linguistic landscape of Merida, and the way we understand what it is to Maya.” -Fidencio Briceño Chel

Fidencio Briceño Chel, Academic Director of Yucatec Maya Program, was honored in Mexico for 30 years of work in the preservation and revitalization of Yucatec Maya language by the Merida’s City Hall. In his acceptance speech, Briceño Chel calls upon local government authorities to transform the linguistic landscape of the city to include the Mayan language.

“We must change the linguistic landscape of Merida, and the way we understand what it is to Maya,” Briceño Chel said.

We are so pleased for our colleague. Congratulations, Briceño Chel!

Thank you to our friends at La Jornada Maya, check out the original post here and below.

La Jornada Maya
Sábado 16 de julio, 2016
Foto: Rodrigo Díaz Guzmán
Mérida, Yucatán

Rindió el Ayuntamiento de Mérida un homenaje al escritor maya Fidencio Briceño Chel quien propuso a las autoridades declarar la lengua maya como patrimonio lingüístico y cultural de los meridanos.

En una emotiva ceremonia llevada a cabo la noche del viernes, el lingüista primero improvisó, para dar paso a un extraordinario discurso en los dos idiomas, donde propuso a las autoridades generar nuevos paisajes lingüísticos para que la maya conviva y coincida con otras lenguas, pues ésta “es compleja y completa como cualquier otra”.

“Sería bueno tener en nuestras comunidades y ciudades, la señalética en maya y en español. Hay que cambiar el rostro lingüístico de Mérida y la manera de mirar, entender el ser maya”, afirmó.

El discurso completo de Fidencio Briceño, así como la presentación que realizó el investigador Enrique Martín, las fotos y el video de la ceremonia, serán publicados en la edición del próximo lunes en nuestra edición impresa y digital.

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Yucatec Maya Program featured on SIPSE.com | Instituto de Verano Maya Yucateco se mencionado en SIPSE.com

Sponsored by the UNC-Duke Consortium, the Yucatec Maya Summer Institute offers beginning, intermediate and advanced level instruction of modern Yucatec Maya. The courses are open to students, faculty, and the public.


See the original post here | Haz clic por el artíulo aquí.

El Palacio Cantón, sede de clases internacionales de lengua maya
El Museo albergará por segundo año consecutivo actividades de ‘The Yucatecan Maya Summer Institute’

yucatec maya

La directora del Palacio Cantón, Giovana Jaspersen García (i) con personal que estará involucrado en la realización de un curso internacional de lengua maya en ese recinto. (Foto Milenio Novedades)

Hoy Miércoles, 15 Jun, 2016 07:0

MÉRIDA, Yuc.- Por segundo año consecutivo, el Museo Regional de Antropología Palacio Cantón será la sede del Instituto de Verano Maya Yucateco, para impartir cursos de maya yucateco moderno a jóvenes americanos.

El Consorcio de Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte en Chapel Hill, la Universidad de Duke y el Programa de Estudios en el Extranjero de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte apoyan el Instituto de Verano Maya Yucateco (The Yucatecan Maya Summer Institute, Kan Báalam Naj) desde hace 24 años, ofreciendo cursos de maya yucateco moderno en los niveles principiante, intermedio y avanzado.

Estos cursos se ofrecen a estudiantes, profesores y especialistas en estudios del área maya, por lo que participan antropólogos, arqueólogos, historiadores, historiadores del arte, lingüistas, literatos, sociólogos, politólogos, psicólogos, biólogos, etc., que estén interesados en estudios en comunidades mayas de la Península de Yucatán, el Norte de Belice y la Bahía de San Francisco, California, en EU, con migrantes mayas yucatecos.

Este verano 2016, las clases dieron inicio este 13 de junio en Chapel Hill, donde por dos semanas los estudiantes del nivel principiante tendrán las bases de la sonoridad y estructura del lenguaje y del pensamiento maya bajo la instrucción del profesor Gerónimo Can Tec y el lingüista David Mora Marín.

Los estudiantes del Nivel intermedio, son aquellos que ya teniendo un nivel más alto de comprensión y habla, viajan a Yucatán, teniendo dos semanas de clases del maya yucateco coloquial. Estas serán impartidas, por segundo año consecutivo, en el Museo Regional de Antropología Palacio Cantón de Mérida, Yucatán, bajo la coordinación del Lingüista Maya Fidencio Briceño Chel, Investigador Adscrito al Centro INAH Yucatán y el Profesor Felipe Castillo Tzec.

Cursos con maya hablantes nativos
Posteriormente los cursos se trasladan a Valladolid y Xocén, Yucatán, donde durante cuatro semanas, los estudiantes serán instruidos totalmente en lengua maya por profesores nativos hablantes, todos ellos capacitados y con experiencia en la docencia y la lingüística maya.

Las clases son complementadas con intercambios con profesionistas maya hablantes, conferencias en maya, visitas guiadas a comunidades y zonas de importancia para la lengua y la cultura mayas.

Este exitoso programa ha permanecido por 24 años capacitando a las últimas generaciones de profesionistas norteamericanos interesados en el área maya con apoyo de instituciones mexicanas como la Uady, la UNAM y el INAH.

Desde el año 2000 la titularidad de los cursos ha estado bajo las órdenes del lingüista, antropólogo e investigador maya Fidencio Briceño Chel, quien desde hace 14 años se ha convertido en el líder y coordinador académico de un grupo de jóvenes mayas que han destacado en la enseñanza de la lengua maya y que ahora son nuestros instructores de base.

La directora del Palacio Cantón, Giovana Jaspersen García, recibió y dio la bienvenida a las jóvenes estudiantes. Comentó que en los últimos años el Museo Palacio Cantón se ha convertido en un excelente marco para recibir al Instituto de Verano Maya Yucateco, incrementando los intercambios académicos de calidad que nos encaminan a nuestro primer cuarto de siglo investigando, enseñando y difundiendo la importancia de la Lengua Maya.

Para el Museo, es de suma importancia el acercamiento con estas actividades, y en este contexto, brinda un espacio de socialización de patrimonio hacia las nuevas generaciones.

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Photos: Museo Palacio Canton

11148360_990347604322990_169019890978711390_oWe are delighted to share photos from our Yucatec Maya Institute friends and participants. We hope you have a wonderful experience!

Courtesy of the Museo Palacio Canton Facebook page:

En el Museo Palacio Cantón, nos llena de alegría recibir al grupo de intercambio de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte para sus estudios de lengua maya yucateco (Yucatec Maya Institute Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University) coordinados por el Mtro. Fidencio Briceño.




























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Faculty Projects in the Yucatan

We are pleased to share a spotlight on faculty projects in the Yucatan. In partnership with InHerit and the Universidad del Oriente in Valladolid, archaeologists from UNC work collaboratively with community members in the investigation of the prehispanic to colonial transition in their communities in a program called PACOY (Proyecto Arqueológico Colaborativo del Oriente de Yucatán; Collaborative Archaeology Project of Eastern Yucatan). We hope you will enjoy!
Many thanks to Sarah Rowe from InHerit for sharing! Read more in the InHerit Newsletter August 2014

Members of the PACOY team

The project co-directors are Dr. Patricia McAnany (UNC, InHerit) and Dr. Ivan Batun (UNO, AGEY). This summer’s team also included InHerit’s Program Director Dr. Sarah Rowe, Alf Berry (Surveyor for the Town of Wayland, MA), UNC graduate student Maia Dedrick, UNO Maya Studies students Lourdes Chan Caamal and Alex Tuz, and Ivan Batun Cante and Miriam Batun Meza. Alf coordinated the summer’s mapping efforts and was assisted by Alex and Ivan Jr. Maia hopes to base her dissertation research at Tahcabo, and was very involved in both the archaeology project and the community collaboration. Lourdes was a powerhouse of community coordination. Sarah continued her role with community collaboration and Miriam returned to the project to assist with mapping and community activities as we closed out the season.

  • Collected a total of 768 artifacts, mostly from the disused residential areas on the outskirts of town. These areas are of particular interest as potential locations for colonial period residences, which allows us to learn more about conditions of life in Tahcabo.
  • Created a topographic map of Tahcabo and continued surface collections in the town. Included are natural features, including five rejolladas, or sinkholes located above the water line that accumulate soil and can be used as orchards, and a large cenote, or sinkhole that has year-round water.

    Creating a topographic map

  • Found artifacts dating from Preclassic to the present day and nearly everything in between. It was exciting to learn that, as at nearby Ek Balam, Tahcabo is a place where people have lived for thousands of years.
  • UNC Graduate Maia Dedrick led the creation of a photo-voice project for secondary students, which utilized photography and discussion to identify good things about living in Tahcabo and the challenges that the community faces. The PACOY team also worked with community members to develop a Heritage Committee, which will be the primary point of contact for the archaeology project.
  • Coordinated a tour of local archaeological site – Ek Balam – for secondary students. Though the site is located only a short distance from Tahcabo and welcomes thousands of visitors every year, most people in Tahcabo had never been there.
  • Increased awareness about local archaeology. Lourdes was instrumental in getting permissions for the archaeological team to investigation parcels of land.
  • Designed a Heritage Day for the local primary school and with the help of Lourdes led 50 children through games and discussion about Maya archaeology and their community’s heritage. We distributed the Yucatan version of the InHerit Soy Maya coloring book which contains information about local archaeological resources presented in both Spanish and Yucatec Maya.
  • PACOY co-director Dr. Ivan Batun was appointed Director of the State Archives of the

    Dr. Batun and Dr. McAnay sign an agreement between AGEY and the Alliance for Heritage Conservation

    Yucatán (AGEY), which is located in Merida. AGEY is home to the secular archives of the peninsula and houses a host of information about local communities over the past several centuries. On the closing day of the summer season we signed an agreement between AGEY and our nonprofit arm, The Alliance for Heritage Conservation, to work together to tell the stories of some of the earliest towns in this region. This agreement will open a number of opportunities for PACOY as the project moves forward and we continue our work in Tahcabo and the region.We congratulate the PACOY team on a successful community collaboration in Tahcabo and are excited to see what they will do next!

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Gallery: 2014 Yucatec Maya Institute

Sponsored by the UNC-Duke Consortium, the Yucatec Maya Summer Institute is open to students, faculty and the public. We followed along as students learned beginning, intermediate and advanced level the instruction of modern Yucatec Maya, and now, we are pleased to share photos from the 2014 Yucatec Maya Institute. We hope you will enjoy!

The Consortium on Latin American & Caribbean Studies founded the Yucatec Maya Institute in 1992. The Institute has trained over 100 scholars from the US, Canada Europe, and Latin America.


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