Monday, October 18, 2010

Ethnographic Field School

NC State University Announces the Eighteenth Annual

Ethnographic Field School, Summer 2011
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
May 27 - July 17, 2011

Environment, Heritage, Identity, and Globalization in Mayan Communities

Field school website: or through the NCSU Study Abroad Office website: Learn how to design, conduct and write-up qualitative, ethnographic research while on the shores of a crystal lake framed by volcanoes! During the seven and a half week program, live and work with an indigenous Guatemalan family in the Lake Atitlán area of the Western Highlands. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, training as an ethnographic fieldworker can prove to be beneficial for a variety of majors, including anthropology, sociology, international affairs, history, education, textiles, natural resource management business and management, political science, psychology, bio-medical engineering and public health. All students are encouraged to apply, especially students interested in topics concerning the environment, globalization, social justice, tourism, conservation, language, development, poverty and health. Not sure how your interests may fit into the topics listed? Contact us. The program is tailored individually to maximize the participant's potential for understanding and developing the skills needed for ethnographic research.  Students also will have opportunities to pursue an applied, service-learning project in lieu of a research project.  Contact the Program Directors (; to discuss potential opportunities for your areas of interest.
The program and eligibility: Within the supportive framework of the NC State Guatemala Program students learn the fundamentals of ethnographic fieldwork, including project design and management, data collection and report writing. Students also quickly improve their Spanish language skills through intensive, daily interaction with their home stay families and other community members. Guatemalans are friendly and outgoing with an ancient and rich, Mayan cultural heritage. The program is designed for about 15 participants who may be undergraduates, graduate students or post-baccalaureate students.  Students will learn how the contemporary Maya of the Lake Atitlán area are adapting to changing demographics, the effects of the global economic slowdown on traditional exports such as coffee and traditional textiles, as well as on the continuing presence of more and more tourists and foreign residents.  The program is not limited to students of NC State University and many previous participants have come from all over the US, Canada, Chile, the UK, and Guatemala.  Some Spanish language skills and some course work or familiarity with anthropology are desirable.
The Fieldwork Site
Lake Atitlán
is one of the most majestic and scenic spots in all of Latin America. Ringed by active and extinct volcanoes and about a mile in elevation, the 55 sq. mi. lake was formed out of an ancient volcanic basin (crater). Dotting the shores of the lake are about a dozen small villages inhabited by the contemporary descendants of the ancient Maya. Panajachel (pop. 9000) is the largest town and will be the headquarters for the program. Students will be located in home stays in one of the ten other towns surrounding the lake shores. The view of the lake from Panajachel and the other towns is magnificent, and the attractive sunsets and views daily lure many tourists over the years. Yet, the region has retained much of their traditional Maya heritage. Guatemala has the largest indigenous population in Mexico and Central America. There are approximately 23 different languages spoken in Guatemala and three of them are spoken around Lake Atitlán (Kaqchikel, Tz’utujil and K’iche’). Despite conquests and civil wars, the Maya have survived for nearly two millennia. Lake Atitlán is one of the best places in Central America to learn about this amazingly durable and vibrant culture.

Six Course Credits (graduate or undergraduate):
Students receive six credits for completing the program. The program emphasizes practical training in ethnographic fieldwork and ethics as it relates to Guatemala. In addition to learning research design, systematic observation, interviewing, fieldnote-taking, coding, ethics, data analysis, report writing, etc., students also learn about contemporary Guatemalan society and culture, particular the key issues of environment, heritage, identity, politics, and globalization in Mayan Communities, especially around Lake Atitlán.  Students learn through seminar discussions and field work the problems associated with first fieldwork in a traditional research anthropological setting.  Note: English is the language of instruction, but Spanish is an invaluable tool for a full experience. The focus of all course work is the design, implementation and write- up of an independent research project with an applied focus.
HousingIn concert with each student’s research needs and personal preferences, participants will be housed with a local Mayan family in one of twelve communities around Lake Atitlan. Each student will receive room, breakfast, lunch and dinner and laundry services. Families also help students learn Spanish and establish networks in the community.

Program Costs
The cost of the seven-week program is only $3150. The single fee covers all expenses (except airfare) including:
•room, board (three meals/day), laundry
•tuition for six credits
•full coverage health insurance during stay abroad
•program fees and instruction
•local transportation costs and transfer fees
•national park entrance fees
•research supplies
•free rental of a cellphone (works both in-country and for inexpensive, international calls), and
•in-country excursions (Colonial Antigua, Indigenous markets at Chichicastenango, rituals in Patzún, the Nature Reserve of Atitlán, and the Mayan ruins of Iximché among others)

Airfare from most US cities is approximately $550-600. Students will need to bring a laptop with them to them field. Each town around the lake has Internet access. Other than a valid passport, US and Canadian citizens need no other documents to enter Guatemala for a stay of up to 90 days.
ApplicationsStudents from any university or country, regardless of major - graduate, undergraduate, post-baccalaureate or post-graduate - may apply.  Applications may be accessed through the field school website: or through the NC State University Study Abroad Office website: .  Please feel free to contact Dr. Tim Wallace, the program director (, or Carla Pezzia, the assistant director ( for additional information or any type of inquiry about the program at 919-815-6388 (m) or 919-515-9025 (o). Fax no: 919-513-0866; E-mail: .  The applications are submitted online, but if you have any problems, please contact Ms. Rebecca Denton at the NCSU Study Abroad Office, Box 7344, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7344, 919-515-2087. The official deadline is February 11, 2011. Applications received after that date will be considered only if there are spaces still available.

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