June 1 – 21, 2014

lake atitlan guatemala


This elective is intended for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni who are interested in learning more about Mayan Ethnographics in Guatemala.


chichicastenango tourStretching across a region of Guatemala’s alpine highlands, volcanoes and rainforests, this course explores the dynamic interactions of human societies. Using the Maya as a case study, the bio-cultural adaptations alongside historic and contemporary human influences of various cultural groups will be examined. The focus will be on the K’iche Maya in Chichastenango, where students will live with Mayan families for almost two weeks. There will be a hands-on focus on the ethnomedicine including Mayan shamanistic spiritual healing, Mayan medicinal plant use, cofradia and others. Students will have the opportunity to develop a personal research project while concurrently learning and testing the theories and practices of anthropology and indigenous issues. This course features living in a Mayan community as well as a series of visits to local communities and activities designed to introduce students to the study and conservation of indigenous culture. Through lectures and personal experiences, students will gain an understanding of the issues that endanger the Mayan culture as well as learn what can be done about it. Concurrently, through course activities, assignments, and individual projects, students will develop practical skills and experience in anthropological fieldwork. A portion of this course will be spent traveling to sites beyond the highlands to appreciate Guatemalan Mayan and Colonial history. This will include visits to ancient Mayan cities and archaeological sites. We will also visit the beautiful colonial city of Antigua to better understand Guatemala’s colonial past.


The program includes transfer to/from the airport in Guatemala City, accommodations (students will be housed in shared double rooms in hotels) during excursions. In Chichicastenango, students will be housed with local families;  most meals, excursions and international health insurance.


Open to Adelphi and non-Adelphi participants.  Students must register for a 3-credit course for summer 2014.  Interested graduate students should contact Dr. London directly at the email below. Tuition for the course is not include the $150 Study Abroad Fee (assessed with the tuition bill). 

Space is limited to 10 students


Douglas London, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Taxa Leon London, Adjunct Professor

Taxa Leon is a K’iche Maya and adjunct faculty in the Department of Anthropology. Getting a real and friendly glimpse into the somewhat closed world of the K’iche is made possible through co-director Taxa Leon’s K’iche Maya family of 13 brothers and sisters. The Leon family, who have long fought to bring international understanding for their people will be your hosts. They are a traditional Mayan family who practice Mayan shamanistic religion and live a simple existence in the rural highlands. Taxa’s mother still weaves traditional cloths for her daughters. The Leons have an art academy to help young Maya value and preserve their traditional beliefs by painting what they see around them in their own culture. If you are selected for our program you will have the opportunity to live with a Mayan family and understand the joys and challenges of daily indigenous life.

Dr. Douglas London is your other co-director and an Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology on the faculty of Adelphi University. He has spent many years working with Mayan indigenous groups directing non-profit aid organizations. While on the faculty of medicine at Harvard University he founded his own non-profit foundation and mental health clinic to help Guatemalans. Dr. London also has worked for the United Nations and other international health organizations in Africa and Latin America for 15 years.  Adelphi Anthropology Facebook Page

Jose Maria Tol – Shaman teacher for the Maya Ethnographic Field School.  Known as “Chema” he is an active and sought after Shaman in the Chichicastenango community and has his own ceremonial sites, traditional sauna and other spiritual resources close by. It takes many years of tutelage under an established Shaman to get the bara (ceremonial staff) such as Chema possesses that marks you as a Kiche’ Maya Shaman. Shamans are typically born under a certain sign in the Mayan calendar. Chema is the author of the Kiche’ Mayan calendar used by most Maya in Chichi. We will work with Chema in understanding Mayan spirituality by engaging in it through participant observation of activities such as fire ceremonies in many locations.


01 June: Transfer direct from  Guatemala Airport to Antigua and overnight at Casa Cristina

02 June: Transfer direct from Antigua to Chichicastenango

chichicastenango market03 June: Chichicastenango local day trips  

04 June: Chichicastenango local day trips

05 June: Transfer from Chichicastenango to Atitlan/Panajachel (day trip)

06 June: Chichicastenango to Santa Cruz Kumacaaj PM (day trip)

07 June:  Free day

08 June: Market day Chichi

09 June: Chichicastenango to Acul-Nebaj

Iximché10 June:  Nebaj area

11 June:  Transfer from Acul – Nebaj to Chichicastenango

12 June:  Chichicastenango local day trips

13 June: Chichicastenango local day trips Iximche ruins (day trip)

14 June: Free day

15 June: Market day Chichicastenango  

16 June: Chichicastenango local day trips

17 June: Farewell party – PM Chichi to Antigua

18 June: Antigua Climb Pacaya Volcano

19 June: Antigua Tour

20 June: Antigua

21 June: Transfer from Antigua to Guatemala Airport

Tour Portion will include:

  • Roundtrip Airport/Hotel transfers
  • 1 Night accommodations in Antigua at the Casa Cristina
  • 2 Nights accommodations in Acul Nebj at the Hacienda San Antonio
  • 4 Nights accommodations in Antigua at the Casa Cristina
  • Hotel taxes
  • Continental Breakfast in Antigua and Acul Nebj
  • 2 dinners at the hotel in Acul Nebj
  • Transportation throughout


Center for International Education
Alumnae Hall 111
Tel: (516) 877-3487 or


Chichicastenango market photo by Adalberto H. Vega