Opportunity for Students: NC State Field School in Guatemala

NC State University Announces the 20th Annual Ethnographic Field School, Summer 2013
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
May 24 - July 15, 2013

Tourism, Heritage and Globalization in Guatemalan Maya Communities

Field school website: http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/wallace or through the NCSU Study Abroad Office website: http://studyabroad.ncsu.edu/

Objectives: Learn how to design, conduct and write-up qualitative, ethnographic research while on the shores of a crystal lake framed by volcanoes! During the 7 ½ week program, live and work with an indigenous Guatemalan family in the Lake Atitlán area of the Western Highlands. This is a hands-on, experiential-driven program where students design a research program, and plan and implement an independent, individualized, project. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, training in ethnographic and qualitative research methods can prove to be beneficial for your career, whether it be in 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, qualitative research. Students also will have opportunities to pursue an applied, service-learning project in lieu of a research project. Contact the Program Directors (tim_wallace@ncsu.edu; sarahtaylor44@gmail.com) to discuss potential opportunities for your areas of interest.

If you would like to contact past participants, let us know. Some of them have written recently to offer their endorsement of the program.

"Tim Wallace's fieldschool stretched the limits of what I thought I could do. I emerged more confident as a researcher, Spanish speaker, and student, and would highly recommend it to anyone who is seeking to build character, resume, or research portfolio." – D. Carr (2012)

“Studying anthropology in Guatemala not only allowed me to try something academically outside my comfort zone but my time there also culturally enriched me in a way I wasn't expecting. Living with a host family in a foreign country and culture changed my life forever and I feel like a more well-rounded and confident individual because of it. No matter your major or your interests there is something that will speak to you in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and give you an experience that you'll never forget.” T. Wells (2012)

"Not only was the EFS program in Guatemala a phenomenally engaging and enjoyable experience, but it also provided me with the tangible skills that I will use as an anthropologist in any region of the world – absolutely irreplaceable as I apply for a Fulbright to conduct ethnographic research in China next year!" - B. Reynolds (2012)


“The Ethnographic Field School is a great way to gain practical field experience in anthropology. Students in the field school come from a variety of backgrounds and by the end of the summer I felt more confident in undertaking a research project and living/travelling independently in a foreign country. I do not speak fluent Spanish and I was still able to complete a project I could be proud of!" - J. Bunch (2010)

“The field school was one of the most rewarding learning experiences in my entire life. Not only did my Spanish improve, but I also learned a lot more about what it takes to do quality ethnographic work. I think this is a must for anyone looking to do graduate or professional work in anthropology but lacks field experience.” - M. Stern (2012)

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 16 participants who may be undergraduates, graduate students or post-baccalaureate students. Students will also learn about the contemporary Maya of the Lake Atitlán area and how they are adapting to changing demographics, globalization, economic and political insecurities, and environmental change. 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. 10,000), one of the largest towns, 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 an international 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.

Housing
In concert with each student’s research needs and personal preferences, participants will be housed with a local family, in one of thirteen Mayan 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 $3300. 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 $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.

Applications
Students 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: http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/wallace or through the NC State University Study Abroad Office website: http://studyabroad.ncsu.edu. Please feel free to contact Dr. Tim Wallace, the program director (tmwallace@mindspring.com), or Sarah Taylor (sarahtaylor44@gmail.com) for additional information or any type of inquiry about the program at 919-815-6388 (m) or 919-515-9025 (o). Fax no: 919-515-2610; E-mail: tmwallace@mindspring.com. 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 rebecca_denton@ncsu.edu, 919-515-2087. The official deadline is February 8, 2013. Applications received after that date will be considered only if there are spaces still available.