Cultural Connections

literacy-gtLeah McCurdy, archaeologist and senior lecturer at The University of Texas at Arlington, used funds from a 2017 Literacy Grant to organize a community outreach project and scholarship program in San Antonio, Belize.

Between June and July 2017, Leah and a team of archaeologists partnered with San Antonio Pentecostal School to recruit students who could read the Yucatec Maya version of the trilingual, archaeologically-inspired storybook To the Mountain! The storybook was first printed and distributed in 2016 with the help of a Literacy Grant from Phi Kappa Phi.

Eight selected students lent their voices to the project to bring the story and language to life in the form of an audiobook.

“Our goal for this audiobook is to encourage more young people to learn and speak their ancestral language of Yucatec Maya and connect to the ancient Maya heritage of their village,” said Leah.

to-the-mountain

As reward for their participation, each student received a tuition and textbook scholarship for the 2017-2018 school year as well as a new backpack full of school supplies.

The audiobook was completed during the summer of 2018 and is now available for listening and download here

The next project on the list for Leah is the release of a Yucatec Maya card game. The card game is being created as a way to encourage people of all ages to continue speaking the language.

"We hope to expand the game and use it in other multilingual literacy projects in the future," said Leah.

 

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi