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University of Colorado Denver

Study Abroad/Global Education

Nobel Cause: Peace & Justice in Guatemala

Maymester 2015

Learn the real story about the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 and experience the sacred Mayan fire ritual with Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum as your guide. The University of Colorado Denver Communication Department and the PeaceJam Foundation have joined forces to offer UCD students the opportunity to participate in a service learning project in Guatemala working with the grass roots RMT Foundation created by the Nobel Peace Laureate. Students will perform at least 25 hours of service per week with the Foundation and its Education Center located on Lago Atitlán by working on projects that assess human rights,  inclusiveness, meeting indigenous peoples' needs and effectiveness of current political communication strategies. In addition, climb a volcano, visit Mayan ruins, spend time in beautiful colonial Antigua and immerse yourself in the beauty of Guatemala and richness of its people.

The Nobel Cause Program was featured in the September 2014 issue of The Advocate! Read more about how the program inspired students to create a book drive to continue the relationship between UCD and the Pavarotti Education Center in Guatemala! Trip to Guatemala inspires fundraiser.​

Learn more about the projects students worked on during Maymester 2012 in UCD's Spotlight Story:

A "Nobel" Cause in Guatemala​


 Faculty Spotlight: EJ Yoder


 Did you study abroad as a student?

Yes, in Salamanca, Spain during my undergrad. After I graduated I went back to Spain for nine months.​


 Why should Communication students go abroad?

Not just Communication students should go abroad – every student should. It looks great on a resume because it shows maturity.  Studying abroad profoundly changes lives. It expands your knowledge base, helps you make different life choices about your career and goals, and helps you understand more about own your identity. Any study abroad experience is fabulous. ​ 


 What inspires you about Guatemala?

Guatemala falls at the bottom position for GDP in Central America, has some of the highest poverty, is 6th in world for malnutrition, has one of the most corrupt governments, and people are some of the nicest I've ever met. They wake up every day, and show the world they have a smile on their face. Students learn how privileged they really are.​


 What excites you about the subject matter of Peace and Justice in Guatemala?

The subject matter - Genocide – is happening in so many places in world. It is important to see what it means. I can hold students' hands and show them. I don’t know why, but I can. And that is very important.​ 


 What do you expect students will learn from your course?

They never learn what you want them to! The goal is to understand what happened in the country and how the United States was involved. It is a part of U.S. history they may have never learned. But what students really gain is a profound sense of what it means to be an American, or a Guatemalan, and how vastly different it is.​ 


 What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you Guatemala?

We watch the film "Granito" a documentary on the genocide in the 80s. After, we visit with anthropologists and students are allowed into the laboratory where they actually examine bones. This experience has a profound effect. Students are asked to be respectful, and asked to share their knowledge of the genocide, which many people don’t even know happened. They become representatives.​ 


 What is your favorite aspect of Guatemalan culture?

The food! We have Carmen, a Guatemalan woman who cooks for us, and she loves to share the food with students. It’s something we experience together. It's a community event.​ 


 What is one thing Americans should know about Guatemala?

There’s only about 100! Guatemalans are probably one of the most respectful people I’ve ever met – which is an amazing in light of the poverty.​ 


Quick Facts

  • Faculty E.J. Yoder​
  • Dates May 18 - June 4, 2015
  • Cost $3,450
  • Deadline March 31, 2015 (Extended)
  • Credits 3
  • Course COMM 4995/5995
  • Program Advisor    Jessica Tharp​

Costs and dates tentative and subject to change.​

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