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Guatemala Field Station

The Maryland Language Science Center has established a research field station near the beautiful Lake Atitlán in the western highlands of Guatemala. This is the first of several planned field stations outside the US, which will support multi-disciplinary research involving local communities, languages and environments. 

The field station officially opened in 2016 and activities so far include our first annual summer field school, the groundwork for several major research projects, and developing relationships with local organizations and researchers. (Find out more about the 2016 summer field school from the students' blog.)

Although the concept of a field station is not new and there are a number of them across the globe, the Guatemala field station has several distinguishing characteristics which are central to its mission:

  • It is founded on close connections with the local community. Incoming researchers and students are based in the community, living in local families and interacting with them on a daily basis. Based on a careful assessment of local needs and priorities, the field station is developing research in several areas relevant to the community, and combines local expertise with that of incoming researchers.

  • It is genuinely interdisciplinary, connecting expertise in fields as diverse as linguistics, nutrition, and business to address complex questions which are locally relevant.

  • Research in language is at the heart of the field station; access to local languages is crucial for developing cultural and communal trust, and language serves as the core connecting different research areas.  Researchers working on different projects are all trained in at least one local indigenous language. For the 2016 summer field school, the language chosen was Kaqchikel, one of the more widely-spoken Mayan languages of the area.

2017 Field School

This summer we will be going to Guatemala for our second annual trip from May 27 - June 25, 2017. In collaboration with the NGO Wuqu' Kawoq, we will be offering beginner and continuing two-week immersion classes in Kaqchikel. Both classes are taught by experienced Kaqchikel teachers who plan the lessons, provide one-one-one help, and provide language learning materials. Following the two-week classes, University of Maryland linguistics faculty will provide mentoring for collecting language data from native Kaqchikel speakers. During the trip, students will stay with local families to gain a better insight into everyday Guatemalan life. Additionally, on the weekends, students and faculty may take field trips to sites where Wuqu' Kawoq is working and assist with their projects. 

The cost for the four-week program is $2250. There may be an option for students to participate only in the two-week Kaqchikel language school, and the standard cost for the two-week program is $1300. There are a limited number of places for the two-week-only option, and priority will be given to NGO workers and interns with Wuqu' Kawoq. We hope to offer reduced program fees to certain groups of participants, including NGO workers/volunteers, Guatemalan residents, and participants who are entirely self-funded. These fees include housing, tranportation, classes and excursions.

Applications are due March 1, 2017. The application can be found here: Guatemala Field School 2017 Application. If you have any questions or are interested in finding out more, please contact Tess Wood or Pedro Mateo Pedro

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