My name is Maria Alejandra Escalante. I went to the Yucatan program last year, 2012-2013. And, I am Columbian which means that Spanish is my first language. I went to Yucatan, not to study Spanish but to study Mayan because I was interested in the culture of Yucatan but precisely in how indigenous people nowadays live, how they use their language as a tool of existence.
And, when I got to Yucatan, I had lots of presumptions and lots of, yeah, stereotypes that came from my background as Colombian, as Latino American. But actually understanding that Yucatan was a bit different and that the people there I was gonna live with were very different from me and from what I’ve seen before, took me some time. And that for me was the immersion program, to take time to forget a little bit of who I was in order to let new things come in to me.
So as I acquired the language and began studying continually in Merida, there came a time when I went to a pueblo to speak in Mayan most of the time. And then I realized that the people that I was living with were so different from me that language was not the only barrier to understand them. But also, it was more about concepts and more about ways of living and more about choices in life. And again realizing that it went beyond language, it went beyond Spanish or Mayan. That, actually, created a huge impact in my life and it took me time to digest, it took me time to, to accept the way it was, but I think the experience, even though it was hard, even though it was challenging gave me a new sense of life, a new sense of the world and it has been an experience that has been with me since a year ago.
So, even though it was hard, I would say, for being a Latino American it was more worthwhile to go to the Yucatan than perhaps any other place that I could have gone. So, “ma’alo’ob kin, tulakal maako’ob.”