By Ben Koller
Taking a term to study abroad is a rite of passage for many.
At Union, 60 percent of students take advantage of one of the many study abroad programs offered.
This year, Union will be debuting two new programs in Latin America: a full term to Uruguay in the spring, and a summer term to Costa Rica.
These programs, which are both based heavily in community service, will offer Union students the opportunity to explore areas and cultures previously unavailable through Union.
Both programs will require that students take a Spanish course during the program, but do not require previous knowledge of the language.
Director of International Programs, Lara Atkins, says that students will now be able to explore important issues in Latin America without having to worry about a language pre-requisite, opening up opportunities for students in all disciplines.
During the term to Costa Rica, students will travel to the city of San Jose where they will take several different classes, including a service learning internship. This will have them engage in various service projects in the community.
Through a variety of organizations, students will be active in the community, working on such issues as human rights protection and school drop-out prevention.
The term to Uruguay is also based on the idea of community service in a different way. It will be led by political science Professor Guillermina Seri.
Students will visit the capital city of Uruguay, Montevideo, where they will take conventional courses, but also work on the Uruguayan implementation of the “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) program.
OLPC is a U.S.-based initiative to bring affordable educational services to the developing world. It inspired Uruguay’s Plan Ceibal, a program designed to deliver a laptop to every primary school child in the country.
As in Costa Rica, students in Montevideo will go out into the community and get hands-on experience in the implementation of this program.
Because previous ability in Spanish is not required, this program gives many different students a chance to study in their relative disciplines, such as computer science or economics.
With the debut of these two new programs to Latin America, students will have unique
opportunities to engage themselves in different cultures and focus on a variety of different subjects.
Both programs offer a chance for students to immerse themselves in a new culture while studying relevant and important topics.