Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Local Students Exposed to Maya Culture

January 23rd, 2015

The Latin American Resource Center (LARC) organized visits to local schools by Ixnal Cuma Chávez and Baldomero Cuma Chávez, teachers and scholars of Kaqchikel Maya. Ixnal and Baldomero, visiting New Orleans from Guatemala for a workshop on Tunica languages, visited four area schools, reaching over 180 students.

Ixnal and Baldomero introduced students to the Kaqchikel language while discussing the importance of language and cultural continuity for Kaqchikel Maya in Guatemala. Students learned about Maya textiles and weavings, heard some Kaqchikel music and songs, and interacted with Ixnal and Baldomero in Spanish and Kaqchikel.

Ixnal and Baldomero visited Spanish classes at three area high schools and one middle school: LW Higgins High School in Marrero, LA, organized by Maria Schneider; Metairie Park Country Day School in Metairie, LA, organized by Ellen Cohen and Elizabeth Herman; West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, LA, organized by Nicole Means and Andrea Bergeron; and the Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, organized by Cynthia Garza. To view photos of the visit, go to the Stone Center flickr site.

These visits provided a unique opportunity for students to practice their Spanish with native Spanish speakers, while learning about the Maya, and experience the importance of Maya culture and tradition.

Although Ixnal and Baldomero are returning to Guatemala, other opportunities are available to introduce the Maya into classrooms throughout New Orleans. The 2015 Tulane Maya Symposium is quickly approaching, and the LARC Teacher Workshop, focusing on the Maya and early explorations of the Maya area, is March 20th at the Mexican Consulate of New Orleans. Register now for the workshop or the entire weekend!

For teachers interested in bringing speakers to the classroom, check out the Visitor Speakers Bureau which brings experts to schools to talk to students. LARC also has several curricula on the Maya, for all grade levels, so be sure to check out the Signs of Change and Beyond the Book curricula!

Photo courtesy of Roger Hibbert.