New perspectives on culture and intercultural communication grounded in two thousand years of cultural continuities and challenges.

The Mérida Seminar 2019

JANUARY 12 – 16, 2019

Mérida, Yucatán: heartland of ancient Mayan and modern Mayan culture -- five million people spanning five nations — including a million in the U.S. today. A place apart from Mexico: three times Mérida claimed its independence, and in the Gilded Age its workers waged a civil war against the caste system of privilege and power that briefly made Mérida the richest city in the Americas. Today Mérida is regarded as the gentlest, safest, best educated city in Mexico — a magnet for many Mexicans and expats alike. And so . . . today's intercultural challenges of gentrification and tourism: think nearby Cancún whose hotels create a new culture and a new colonial mentality. Equidistant from Mexico City, Miami, and Havana— and influenced by each, Mérida is a place to take stock of two thousand years of cultural continuity and intercultural engagements of every kind including today’s subtler conflicts that in many ways echo those of the past.

This is a personal invitation: a chance to meet everyday people in a beautiful place, and learn from scholars and specialists who appreciate and will inform our concerns. We’ll be with friends in Mérida and Valladolid who may change how we think about culture and intercultural relations. We’ll also visit two of the most significant pre-Columbian sites -- Uxmal, on the UN World Heritage register, and Ek Balam, among the oldest but newest uncovered, least touristed and most impressive sites. And we’ll have frank conversations with local people about the complexities of intercultural communication today. We’ll meet with a local women’s cooperative fighting for social justice, and an artist who raps in Mayan. We'll quickly appreciate the cultural continuity of foods with a visit with vendors at the city’s bustling market, and we’ll meet scholar-activists who work toward language preservation and cultural maintenance and renewal. Stimulating, revealing and, we believe, inspiring. The seminar is limited to ten participants.

Yucatán is at its best in mid-January, right after the holiday tourists have gone, and with temperatures around 75 F (24 C). You can choose your hotel in Mérida that best suits your style and budget -- lovely inns from less than $50 a night to pricier five star hotels. Because our group will be small we can't negotiate a discounted price, but you’ll get a list of suggestions of places not far from our meeting place just off the Plaza Grande in the heart of the city and you can check the Internet for descriptions and rates. When we travel to Valladolid and Ek Balam we'll all be at the same hotel on the plaza for our final night. Consider arriving early -- or stay longer -- to enjoy a day or two by the beach on the Caribbean or the Gulf. Don't be shy about such temptations: we have suggestions.

To register or for additional information contact Claudia at Or Jack at:



Early bird discount (before Oct. 1) discount: $50.
SIIC alums/ SIETAR members’ discount: $100.
To assure your registration a deposit of $200 is required, and refundable before Nov. 1, 2018.

HOTEL INFORMATION: Lodging is not included, so you can choose the kind and price of lodging you prefer. We will send suggestions, especially for places near the Plaza Grande at the center of the city where we will meet each day. We will make reservations for you in Valladolid at a hotel on the plaza which is where we all will stay Tuesday night and from where we will travel to Ek Balam.

MEALS: Included in the tuition are lunches at Uxmal and for our concluding session in Valladolid. For all other meals you are encouraged to enjoy some of the many excellent restaurants in Mérida. You will receive a list of recommendations.

TRANSPORTATION: All transportation for visits within Mérida, and r.t. to Uxmal, and to Valladolid and to the Ek Balam site is included. For those returning from Valladolid to Mérida on Thursday afternoon, transportation is included. Those who wish to travel at the end of the seminar from Valladolid to Cancún or elsewhere will make their own arrangements. (We will do our best to advise and assist.)

Your hosts:


Claudia Chapa Cortés

Born and raised in Mexico, has her home in Mérida, Yucatán, where she is Director of the International Education Agency, Tsikbal, which in the Maya language means “to have a conversation.” Claudia has welcomed and challenged hundreds of people— including international students and their Yucatecan host families — in their intercultural communication experience. A former exchange student herself, in the US and Finland, and with professional experience in Canada and France, Claudia is fluent in three languages. In the Yucatán, Claudia is deeply engaged in the local communities, their challenges and hopes. With a graduate degree in international communication Claudia is completing her Ph.D. in communication and invites us into the real world that grounds her work.


John (Jack) Condon

Regarded as one of the founders of the field of Intercultural Communication, was one of the founding faculty at Stanford University that later became the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication (SIIC) where he has taught for over 40 years. An award-winning educator and author of 20 books, Jack began college as a 17 year old freshman in Mexico City and later returned for his doctoral research on U.S.-Mexican communication. Now emeritus professor at the University of New Mexico, Jack also taught at the University of Guadalajara, and was on the faculty at Northwestern University and in Japan at International Christian University and later at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. For many years he has offered peripatetic seminars and workshops in northern New Mexico.

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