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Students Explore Agriculture, Language and Traditions of Guatemala

06.19.2012

HIGH POINT, N.C., June 19, 2012 – A group of High Point University students immersed themselves into the culture and traditions of Antigua, Guatemala by living with Guatemalan families, observing wedding traditions, getting their hands into agricultural trades such as making chocolate and grinding coffee beans, and learning the language of the country through a recent Maymester course.

The international course, offered through the Office of Study Abroad, gave 11 students the opportunity to visit the country throughout the month of May under the instruction of Dr. Claudia Femenias, professor of Spanish, and Carolyn Adams, assistant professor of Spanish. About half of the students lived with Guatemalan families throughout the trip, while the rest lived together as a group.

“We learned how Mayans are serving their culture and participating in contemporary Guatemala through their work with traditional Mayan crafts and tourism,” says Femenias. “We met every day as a class, then interacted with Guatemalans to practice Spanish language skills and observe other facets of the country, such as how the Industrial Revolution has changed the way each culture makes chocolate.”

Beans from Cacao trees, also called cocoa trees, are prevalent in parts of Guatemala. Students experienced the process of chocolate making with Guatemalans who have practiced the trade all their life, as well as the grinding of coffee beans.

They also participated in a Mayan wedding ceremony, visited the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal, and learned about the importance of textiles with respect to cultural identity while visiting several women’s cooperatives, which are vital to the family and local economies of the regions.

“Students lived in a culture that was completely different from their own and unlike anything they’ve ever seen,” Femenias adds. “They absolutely loved it because it immersed them into the language and the everyday life of a typical Guatemalan family instead of having a more tourist-driven experience.”

At High Point University, every student receives an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people.℠ HPU, located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, is a liberal arts institution with over 4,200 undergraduate and graduate students at campuses in High Point and Winston-Salem. It is ranked by US News and World Report at No. 3 among Regional Colleges in the South. Parade Magazine lists HPU in the top 25 private schools in the nation. HPU was selected in the 2010-2011 list of “Colleges of Distinction,” as well as one of the top green schools in the country by the Sierra Club. The university offers 44 undergraduate majors, 40 undergraduate minors and 10 graduate degree programs. It is a member of the NCAA, Division I and the Big South Conference. Visit High Point University on the Web at highpoint.edu.

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