Every winter, a group of COA students journeys to México for a term-long immersion, led by Program Director Karla Peña and the staff of her organization, PICY (Programas de Inmersión Cultural en Yucatán). While in Yucatán, students spend two months taking language and cultural immersion classes in the city of Mérida, and then develop their own independent, interdisciplinary research projects on the culture of the peninsula.

September-November: preparation

During the fall term at COA, students participate in Spanish classes and program orientations to prepare for their time in Yucatán. Classes are taught exclusively in Spanish, emphasizing listening and communication skills.

December-January: immersion and acculturation

Students travel to Yucatán, where they tour the region, meet their host families in Mérida, and begin classes. In addition to regular academic coursework, students can participate in workshops on everything from salsa dancing and traditional music to Mayan archaeo-astronomy. Over the course of two months in Mérida students will begin developing plans for their final independent project. The last part of January is spent on a group trip to a small community where students are oriented to rural life.

February: independent project

During their final month in the program, students design and conduct a three-week independent project, which takes many of them to live with families in rural, often Mayan-speaking villages. Returning back to Mérida at the end of the program, students prepare detailed presentations on their final projects.

Student testimonials

Stories from the Yucatán program

  • NEWS
    “Box of Stories” set for Yucatán Journey
    Marina Lika Uehara ’20 will spend two months spreading hope, knowledge, and stories to children in Yucatán, Mexico via a homemade mobile library following the award of a $10,000 grant from Projects for Peace.
  • NEWS
    Immersion Program Surrounds With New Sites and Sounds
    A group of COA students living and studying in the Mexican state of Yucatán struggle with local accents, meet a few locals, and pet a crocodile.
  • NEWS
    A Summer With Project for Peace

    An education in human ecology led Becca Haydu ’16 to the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, where she worked with Project for Peace to promote indigenous culture.