Study Tours

The Educational Outreach Program offers study tours for teachers that provide opportunities for meaningful and substantive hands-on learning about Latin America and the Caribbean.  Participating teachers engage in pre-trip workshops to deepen their understanding of the country they will visit and examine their role as a U.S. teacher in a global context. During the study tour, teachers visit places of historical, cultural and political significance, discuss their experiences in the classroom with local teachers, and participate in a homestay.  Following the trip, teachers create and disseminate new curriculum based on their research and exploration of a relevant topic. __________________________________________________________________________________________

2014 Study Tour

Connecting the Americas: From North Carolina to Yucatán, MexicoIMG_2117

June 17-26, 2014

Click here to access the CTA teachers’  lesson plans for grades 1-5 about Yucatán and the Yucatec Maya community.

Read the blog of one of our teacher participants, Nicole Emmett, a teacher-librarian in Person County.

Teachers began the study tour with a lecture from Dr. Fidencio Briceño Chel, a renowned scholar and professor of linguistics and multilingual education, Maya language educator, curriculum developer, and advocate for the inclusion of Maya language instruction in local schools. This helped to provide a context for school visits and exchanges with local K-12 teachers.IMG_1739

IMG_2103Teachers visited four schools during the study tour, each in a distinct city or town.  They participated in presentations, classroom observations, and discussions with teachers to learn about everything from the use of Maya stories in elementary instruction, to working with parents, to policy aimed at standardizing education.

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IMG_1881In Mérida, we were all taken by the Monumento a la Patria, an intricate structure paying homage to Yucatecans’ Maya roots.

After visiting the beautiful but heavily touristic Chichén Itza, we headed east to see an archaeological site a bit more off the beaten path, Ek’ Balam.  There we climbed the tallest pyramid and reveled at the view of this once thriving metropolis. IMG_2046

Following stays in Mérida and Valladolid, we headed south to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, a town now designated the Center of Maya Culture in the state of Quintana Roo.

IMG_2171There we explored a nearby ecological reserve, Siijil Noh-Ha, which was built on an ejido, a communal land provided to local residents following institutionalization of Mexico’s land reform program.

We took a cooking class and learned to make empanadas.  Learning about local dishes, ingredients, and food-related cultural practices was a significant part of our daily activities. IMG_2252

IMG_2296On our final full day, we visited the regal ruins of Tulum, which sit alongside the Caribbean Sea.  One could imagine pre-colonial Taíno traders arriving from the islands to exchange salt and cotton for the Mayas’ copper, obsidian, and jade.

Teacher participants are creating new curriculum for their students, based on one topic or theme that they learned about during their study tour experience.  Check back with us for updates on the curriculum!


Linda McDonald, Buncombe County Schools

Claudia Walker, Guilford County Schools

Daphne Mclaurin, Guilford County Schools

Jennifer Cassidy, Guilford County Schools

Nicole Emmert, Person County Schools

Tyson Pentecost, Person County Schools

Carrie McMillan, Durham Public Schools

Betty Brandt Rouse, Durham Public Schools


CTA Journal Prompts – Daily journal prompts that helped us to reflect on our experience through writing and discussion


Past teacher study tours and partnerships include:

•    Dominican Republic Teacher Study Tour: Teachers from Shepard Middle School and Hillside High School traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2009, as part of Freedom’s Story: A Durham-Dominican Republic Teacher Study Tour.  Freedom’s Story built upon the collaborative work between the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Hillside High and Shepard Middle School. A sister school partnership was established and communication between students and teachers in both countries is underway. Furthermore, as a result of this trip, mural artist Hector Blanco was invited to paint a mural at both Shepard Middle and Hillside High schools. Additionally, both students and teachers participated in a week-long workshop, which culminated in two separate murals that were painted at Shepard Middle School.

•    Guanajuato, Mexico Teacher Study Tour: Teachers from Lakewood and Burton Elementary Schools traveled to Guanajuato, Mexico, in 2010, just as teachers from Alexander County Schools did in 2009. In addition to reading and writing about Mexico, these teachers saw it, smelled it, tasted it, and lived it during their weeklong program. They stayed with families in Guanajuato, visited schools and students from the region, and completed assignments to help them develop curriculum to use in their own classrooms. In addition to organizing the trip, the Outreach Office conducted a series of preliminary workshops, which introduced the historical, political, social and cultural aspects of Mexico and the interconnections to the U.S. These workshops included panel and group discussions with Mexican immigrant students and parents who are currently living in North Carolina. Click here to watch a brief video.

•   Visions: Action Research Projects in Durham Public SchoolsSponsored by Duke University’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs and The Consortium in Latin American & Caribbean Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, Visions is a leadership development program that engaged twelve DPS teachers (elementary, middle and high schools) in action-research projects designed to systematically investigate an issue that addresses classroom and/or school practices to increase Hispanic student achievement. Teachers participated in pre-departure workshops, language study, and a nine-day tour to Santa Elena, Mexico. Click here to follow the blog where these teachers share their experience. Upon their return, teachers participated in post-trip workshops, as well as published research in peer-reviewed journals, presented findings at local and regional seminars, and engaged school staff in implementing research recommendations.

Copyright 2015 | The Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University