POWELL, Wyo. - This year, the Northwest College Spanish Field Studies Class will travel to Guatemala from Dec. 27-Jan. 10. This is a change from the usual early-summer travel schedule.
"We're offering this class as a trial during the Intersession between the fall and spring semesters," Mary Ellen Ibarra-Robinson said, "to see if it turns out to be a good travel time. Hopefully, it is seen as a good holiday time experience, especially since it takes place in a warmer climate." Ibarra-Robinson, an associate professor of Spanish at NWC, coordinates the class. She said because of the earlier travel time, participants must let her know of their interest as easy as possible and make a travel deposit by Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Unlike most other NWC field studies classes, Ibarra-Robinson said, this one emphasizes language instruction and total cultural immersion. It's open to community members regardless of Spanish language skill level.
"Even people who do not speak Spanish at all can benefit from this trip because instruction is geared to the level of each individual," she said.
Participants are immersed in the Guatemalan culture the entire trip. Each person lives, eats and interacts with a carefully chosen local family while attending classes on weekday mornings at Coined, a Spanish language institute.
Participants will home-stay in Antigua, a UNESO World Heritage Site. Antigua blends a mixture of colonial and Mayan influences in a mountain setting where Fuego Volcano is visible from most parts of the city. Its cobblestone streets and brightly colored homes contrast with the Spanish ruins they're nestled among.
Afternoon activities include a climb of nearby Pacaya Volcano, tour of a coffee plantation, visit to a rural family home cooperative, plus a tour of Santo Domingo and Capuchinas Ruins.
The two weekends are reserved for excursions to Lake Atitlan and Tikal, the Lost Kingdom of the Maya. The Tikal jungle is home to the largest excavation of ancient Mayan architecture, as well as a variety of flora and fauna, including spider and howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and more than 400 bird species.
Lake Atitlan, with its three volcanoes and nearby indigenous villages, provides opportunities on the first weekend for participants to visit a women's weaving cooperative, ride bikes from one village to another, take a canopy tour, enjoy disco night or relax near the lake.
This travel class can be audited or taken for three credits. The approximate cost of $2,600 includes tuition, travel costs, excursions and most meals. Passports are required, but visas are not.
For more information, e-mail Mary Ellen Ibarra-Robinson or call 307-754-6430.