Xicotepec Service-learning Course

Painting of a young boy

Due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, CPH:4755 International Perspectives: Xicotepec will not be offered for the Spring 2022 semester.

About the Experience

This is a three credit-hour, interdisciplinary, service-learning course co-sponsored by the University of Iowa and District 6000 of Rotary International. The course meets weekly during the spring semester with travel to Mexico over spring break. Readings and classroom sessions will focus on service-learning, teamwork, intercultural competence, Mexican culture and history, project planning and development, as well as analyzing, reporting and presenting as a team. In collaboration with Rotarians and local community members, students will work in teams to develop and execute discipline-specific projects that address community-identified needs in Xicotepec de Juárez,Puebla, Mexico.

All international travel associated with the University of Iowa is currently suspended through at least August 1, 2021, per the Iowa Board of Regents. Future information about this course will be provided when available.

The course will meet one day a week throughout the semester. Additional sessions may be scheduled for team project development as needed. Class time is team-taught with an emphasis on critical thinking and reflection to underscore and enhance general intercultural (and discipline-specific) skills and knowledge gained through classroom study and active participation in service projects. Assignments and discussion are rigorous and intended to prepare students for an international experience and, upon return, evaluation and reflection on that experience and meaning – both personally and professionally.

At the end of the course the student will be able to:

  1. Summarize and describe historical, social, political, and religious influences on Mexican culture.
  1. Articulate a framework for culture that contextualizes ambiguities and that values and recognizes biases and the constraints of the personal perspective.
  2. Appreciate, analyze, and address the challenges of effective interdisciplinary teamwork.
  3. List key behaviors that help teams succeed.
  4. Systematically apply the concepts and goals of critical reflection [observation, context, relevance, critical thinking, self-assessment] to this service-learning experience.
  5. Explain the process (commitment, funding, needs assessment) by which an organization such as Rotary International establishes and sustains a community partnership.
  6. Demonstrate professional, culturally appropriate behavior in the Xicotepec environment.
  7. As part of a team and, upon occasion, as a team leader, perform tasks and make necessary adjustments to complete the Xicotepec projects.
  8. As a member of a team, develop and deliver a written report and public presentation that describes, documents, evaluates and reflects on achievement of course learning goals (including personal and professional growth), the team’s process and service project.

Click here for more information on service projects from past semesters.

This course counts as MPH elective credit and can fulfill the undergraduate experiential-learning requirement for public health majors upon completion of the course. Students must apply and be accepted to enroll in this course.

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About the People

This course is interdisciplinary and will be team-taught in conjunction with the Colleges of Pharmacy, Dentistry, Liberal Arts, and others. The Spring 2020 public health faculty lead will be Jeff Dawson, Biostatistics.

About the Location

Xicotepec is a city of 90,000 located 116 miles (186 km) northeast of Mexico City. The area is mountainous with abundant vegetation. The main products are coffee, flowers and plants, stainless steel, and clay for porcelain figures. The University of Iowa course visits Xicotepec in partnership with Rotary International. District 6000 (Iowa) and Xicotepec Rotary clubs have long-standing, mutually beneficial partnership. During the trip, students will travel with Rotary volunteers of all ages and there will be several service projects being implemented concurrently.

All volunteers and students will have housing provided in barracks-style dormitories at Cruz Azul – in a safe, comfortable convent, close to Xicotepec’s central square. Meals will be provided for all students, faculty, and Rotarians on-site. Transportation to project sites is provided.

Costs and Fees

The program fee for the Spring 2019 semester was $1850 for residents and non-residents. The Spring 2020 costs will be comparable, depending on the cost of flights. The fees include travel to and from Iowa City, lodging, meals (except meals while en route to and from Xicotepec). The program fees do not include tuition, personal items (souvenirs, toiletries, etc), the study abroad administrative fee (see below), passports, mandatory travel insurance (see below), or immunizations.

All University of Iowa students are required to pay a $400 fee assessed by the International programs office. Students traveling abroad will be automatically enrolled in international travel insurance through CISI at a rate of $1.31/day. This insurance is mandatory and cannot be waived. For more information regarding these mandatory fees, click the button below.

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How to Apply

Students interested in enrolling in the Public Health section of this course are required to complete the following application requirements.

All students must meet with the Global Public Health Coordinator to discuss their interest and eligibility for this course. This meeting must take place before the Oct. 10 application deadline. Appointments can be scheduled through myui.uiowa.edu.

To apply, students must complete the UI Study Abroad application. The application will open August 26th. All applications are due Oct. 10, 2019.

Students will be selected based on stated interest and experience in global health and academic and disciplinary standing. Due to capacity restrictions, seating in this course is extremely limited and not all qualified students may be selected. Students will be notified of their admission by mid-October.

Once students have been approved for admission by the College of Public Health and the Study Abroad Office, they will be asked to complete an application through the Rotary District 6000 websiteThe deadline to complete the Rotary application for the spring 2020 course will be early Nov. 3, 2019.

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All University of Iowa students are encouraged to apply. However, due to limited seats not all qualified applicants are guaranteed admission.

  • Students must have received admission approval from the College of Public Health to participate.
  • Students must have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA.
  • Undergraduate students are required to submit a reference from their primary academic advisor.
  • Students must be able to obtain a passport and the appropriate visa documentation, if needed. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens.
  • Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing.

Students are not required to have previous international experience.

Contact Us

All questions regarding course content, application, and enrollment should be directed to Sophie Switzer, Global Public Health Coordinator.

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