Guatemalan/Mayan Migrations

2004-2005
Faculty Mentor(s): 
Beatriz Manz (Geography, Ethnic Studies)
Student Apprentice(s): 
Rebecca Lindsay

Tens of thousands of undocumented Central Americans live in the San Francisco Bay Area. The most invisible of these groups are the Guatemalans, especially the Mayan migrants. Undergraduate Rebecca Lindsay worked with the faculty in documenting the working and living conditions among this population. Lindsay accompanied the faculty to meetings and data collection through the key institutions in the Bay Area that provide support to these particular migrants: churches, legal NGOs, Medical clinics, support groups, cultural venues, appropriate state government offices. In the process the project assessed the effectiveness and success of these organizations and provided some suggestions for improvements. Rebecca Lindsay, the student apprentice, gained invaluable experience: meeting poor Guatemalans and gaining insights into the monumental hardships—the economic difficulties, the cultural shock and adjustment, as well as the psychological burden, endured by these new arrivals. Lindsay was exposed to faculty research and learned about field methods. The data collected contributed to the ongoing research by faculty Beatriz Manz and provided a solid documentation and guidance for a very focused internship placement for students enrolled in the fall semester course, “Violence, Genocide, and Social Suffering: Perspectives from Medicine and the Humanities.”