Yucatan Winter Break Program Aligns with the GSE Urban Social Justice Teacher Education Program

August 26, 2019
For the past 7 years, Rutgers Graduate School of Education students have had the opportunity to participate in the Community-Based Language Learning Program in Yucatan, Mexico during winter session. In January, the group travels to Merida, Mexico where participants engage in collaborative activities focused on English conversation practice with pre-service teachers at the Education School at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY) and high school students at the UADY’s Unidad Académica Bachillerato con Interacción Comunitaria.
 
In 2020, the newly redesigned program aligns with the GSE Urban Social Justice Teacher Education Program, now in its third year. Participants in the program will receive 3 credits toward the required “Students, Communities and Social Justice” course, which serves as the capstone, community-based experience that all teacher certification students take in their final semester.
 
                                                                                                                                       
 
The program will run from January 3rd through January 12th, 2020. Students will engage with community leaders at several community-based education sites in Merida and local pueblos. Highlights include an immersion experience in a Spanish/Mayan bilingual after school program, an introduction to library, clinic and gardening projects organized by a women’s cooperative, and high school students’ presentations on their community-based projects.
 
Participants are prepared to draw upon ethnographic techniques that guide them to employ an asset-based perspective. Through the community engagement and program activities, participants receive an introduction to Mexican pre-Colombian, colonial and contemporary culture and history. Activities include visiting a Mayan archeological site, traditional dance programs, a renovated henequen hacienda, markets, and more. The program offers opportunities for guided reflection so that GSE students can critically examine their experience and consider its relevance for their future teaching.
 
Participants have found the program to be transformative. GSE graduate Erika Martinez (2019) participated in the program in 2018. “It was a powerful experience. I am Mexican American, and I wasn’t really sure that I would benefit from this program; however, it exposed me to a region of Mexico I wasn’t familiar with and engaged me in the community in new ways. I’m so glad I joined. It was such a great experience I’m hoping my sister can join this program in the future!”
 
The program is open to students in all degree programs and Spanish proficiency is not required. Upon their return, participants will apply their learning in local New Jersey communities.
 
For more information about the program, attend one of our information sessions on Thursday, September 5 from 7:30 – 9, or drop in on Monday, September 9th between 3 and 8 pm, or write Professor Mary Curran (mary.curran@gse.rutgers.edu) for more information.
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