TEFL Certificate

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  • As for the TEFL certification, AND
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An overlooked jewel…… Chiapa d e Corzo is a small attractive colonial town with an easy going, provincial air. Chiapa d e Corzo is a small attractive colonial town with an easy going, provincial air.


– Lonely planet, Mexico Edition 2009

This just about sums up our little town, with an emphasis on overlooked; which is what probably makes Chiapa de Corzo so special.  There really is so much to do in town and in the surrounding area, and hardly anyone knows about it. We have quite a bit of day tourism during the high seasons, as many tour-bus companies have us on their route, but our teachers and volunteers are quickly recognized as part of the community after having been seen more than 2 days in a row! 

Situated on the banks of the Grijalva River, and at the mouth of the Sumidero Canyon, Chiapa has plenty to offer for short term, as well as longer term stays.  Weekends can be easily taken up exploring the surrounding country side and other towns close-by.  Just an hour and a half up the mountain you can get a break from the heat in the picturesque, colonial town of San Cristóbal.  Not far fom San Cristobal is Comitán, with ruins and lakes that can be easiy seen in a weekend. A longer trip, about 7 hours from Chiapa, are the world renowned Mayan ruins of Palenque, an unforgettable experience.  Day trips to waterfalls like El Chorreadero and El Chiflón, are well worth it, as well. 

Weeknights, and night life in general , in Chiapa tend to be fairly laid-back.  There are some cafes and bars in town that let you enjoy a nice relaxed atmosphere after a long day of teaching! But, if you are into the occasional trip to malls, discos, big screen movie theaters, etc. that is all within a 20 minute hassle-free bus ride to Tuxtla Gutierrez.   

Realistically, night life isn't Chiapa's strong point, but culture is. Every single Chiapacorceño will sit down with you for hours and proudly talk about the traditional Feria de Enero. Not to mention all the other days commemorating saints, battles, the dead, etc. scattered throughout the year!  You can partake in many of the traditions and traditional handicrafts by enrolling in the free workshops that the Cultural Center,Casa Escuela de Tradiciones, has to offer.  

Dunham Institute, as well as all the homestays, are all located within a 4 block radius of the central park (the heart of Chiapa).  Around the park is where most of the day to day action takes place; cafes, restaurants, markets, shops, internet cafés, etc.  Having everything so close and within walking distance really creates a close-knit feeling, which you´ll experience if you come to stay with us!


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  • History and Traditions
  • Geography and Climate
  • Benefits/Challenges

ParachicosChiapa de Corzo is the oldest town in the state of Chiapas. It was colonized in the early 1500's by the Spanish conquerors, which didn't stay very long because of the heat. From here they made their way up the mountains and founded San Cristóbal de Las Casas. The people are very proud of their history, as seen by the preservation work done on the Cathedral, the ex - monastery, the other churches and the original fountain still standing in the central park. 

We can also see this same pride in the almost 400-year-old traditions that are still celebrated today. Like most of Mexico, Chiapa de Corzo is catholic and their patron saint is Saint Sebastian. To pay homage to their saint, 3 weeks in January are set-aside to party, party, and party. This is when the town fills up with tourists, parachicos, chuntaes, etc. 

The fair in January originally was not religious. It was originally a celebration in the memory of a Spanish woman named Maria de Angulo. She came to Latin America in search of a cure for her ailing son (the ailment is not quite know anymore), and was told of the healers in Chiapa de Corzo. She arrived in Chiapa de Corzo at a time of famine and drought, and promised food and drink for the whole town (being extremely rich) if they could cure her son. Now, there are 2 versions from here on. Some say the little boy was ill from sadness (his heart was sad), and to make him happy again his mother asked the town to dress up in costumes and dance and laugh and make merry. And when the merry makers were asked why they were dancing they answered, "bailamos para el chico," (we dance for the boy.). So they became the parachicos. The other version is that a healer cured the boy and the ever-grateful mother gave the mother of all parties!!!! When again asked why they were dancing all dressed up they answered "para el chico," so they became the parachicos. 

January in Chiapa de Corzo is also probably the only place and time in Mexico where it is considered an honor for a man to dress up as a woman and go dancing and singing through the streets. These men dress up as traditional peasant women represent the servants of Maria de Angulo, who helped to give out food to the town. It is also said that they represent the men that fled to the hills during the Revolution that had to disguise themselves when entering the town for food. At any rate either version is quite a sight to see! 

Many years after the tradition began the church realized the popularity of this party and began to change the purpose slightly. So now the fair has its religious air and Saint Sebastian is honored to no end!!!!!!

Cañon del SumideroChiapa de Corzo, about 70,000 inhabitants, is a colonial town located on the shores of the Grijalva River and at the mouth of the Sumidero Canyon. The town is 17 kilometers/11miles (20 minutes by public transport) away from Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas, which is a sprawling city with most of all modern conveniences. It is also 80 kilometers away from San Cristóbal de Las Casas. 

If hiking is your thing, this area is famous for gigantic sinkholes, waterfalls, and of course the canyon. For the most part this area is totally undeveloped for the tourist, so getting to these places is and adventure in itself. 

There are basically 2 seasons, hot and not so hot! From March- August is the rainy season, so it is very hot 80 F- 95 F (28 C-34 C). The rain helps to cool things off a little and there is always a strong breeze, which also helps. The hottest months are March-May; the rain usually begins at the end of May. It's not unusual to shower 2 or 3 times a day. 

From October-February the weather is really agreeable. The evenings cool down sometimes to 70 F- 75 F (21 C-24 C), and the mornings as well. Definite jeans and long sleeve weather. Mid-day is still warm, but dry.

Yunta de bueyesThe most obvious challenge about Chiapa de Corzo is the heat from March to August. It's not comfortable to be outside between 11 am and 4 pm. But there are solutions. One is to stay inside!! Dunham Institute has ceiling fans in all the classrooms, which also provides some relief. Another challenge for some may be the total immersion in a very intense culture. Dunham Institute houses the only foreigners living here on a permanent basis, so there is very little interaction with people from cultures or countries other than Mexico. There are tourists, but they are day-tourists that come to take the boat trip through the Sumidero canyon or buy souvenirs. We do all we can to help with culture shock; help to explain the local mentality, help integrate into local society, and allow a lot of time for complaints, questions, etc. 

Just as the total immersion could be a challenge, it is most certainly one of the greatest benefits about living in Chiapa de Corzo. What better place to learn the language, the culture, and traditions of one of the oldest Mexican towns. There is little influence here from tourism, no beggars, no made-for-tourist cafes or shops. Everything is so authentic. Of course, there are cafes and restaurants, but they are for everyone, not exclusively for foreigners. 

Part of the authenticity of this place is the people. They are lovely, humble and ever so curious.