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A new faculty-led program offers an experiential learning program with Mexican student partners in Oaxaca, Mexico, a multilingual city where more than 15 indigenous languages are alive along with Spanish.  Oaxaca was named a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO for its unique cultural and historical value. 

Program Overview

Maymester in Mexico is a 4-credit program with one 2-credit course in the Spring semester and one 2-credit course during May/June in Oaxaca, Mexico. The study abroad experience at the Universidad Autonoma in Oaxaca, Mexico is designed for Penn State undergraduates from all campuses, schools, and fields of study. The program offers hands-on learning experience to build linguistic and cultural competencies. Classroom and community-based interactions will explore equity-minded and social justice dispositions and instill leadership skills. Students will receive language instruction in Spanish or Zapotec, and indigenous language widely spoken in the state of Oaxaca and will have the opportunity to build language skills in daily life with a Mexican host family and friends. A unique opportunity in this abroad experience will be to participate in class sessions, collaborative projects, and language exchange with Mexican university student partners. The program also features travel in the local region for experiential learning and ethnographic inquiry in indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities, archeological sites and exploration of the natural world.

The program is offered through a partnership with the premier public university in the state of Oaxaca, la Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UABJO).  

Your participation in this Program will offer experiences and knowledge to: 

  • Increase your cultural awareness and intercultural competency
  • Explore global issues along with Mexican students 
  • Increase on-line communication skills and instructional techniques 
  • Engage in project-based research to deepen understanding of local community health, education, sustainability efforts
  • Develop friendships with Mexican students partners in a virtual and in-person cultural immersion
  • Learn some Spanish (or Zapotec!)
  • Increase your critical thinking and analytical skills 

Learn more about the Maymester in Mexico Program

All students will enroll in CI 497A: Maymester in Mexico: Language, Culture and Community-Based Learning (2 credits) in the Spring semester and CI 497B: Maymester in Mexico: Language, Culture and Community-Based Learning (2 credits) for the summer course in Mexico. 

Spring course - CI 497A: (2 credits) 

March 14 - April 29, 2022 (7 weeks)   An outdoor scenery of the school hallways in Oaxaca.

This course will be offered in a blended format (online and in-person) with two weekend sessions at University Park campus. The course will explore foundational concepts related to second language learning and intercultural interactions as well as establish a social justice orientation. We will begin working with our Mexican student partners online.

Summer course - CI 497B: (2 credits) 

May 14- June 5, 2022 (3 weeks)

This interdisciplinary course offered onsite in Oaxaca will touch on many areas of study, including second language learning, bilingual and English language education, indigenous knowledges, anthropology, women’s studies, immigration and sociology.  It will also make connections to sustainability among languages, cultures and the natural world.  The focus will be hands-on experiential learning that takes place collaborating with Mexican people and communities for greater awareness and self-knowledge of cultural, linguistic, gendered identities, sustainability and border/migration issues.

  • Classroom language instruction will be an integral part of the program, but there is no prerequisite or minimum level of Spanish or Zapotec language Penn State student learning from a Mexican native how to cook a local dish.proficiency. Participants will be taught according to their level and linguistic needs. 
  • Students will engage directly with their Mexican university student counterparts online and in Mexico in translingual interactions (use of multiple languages). 

  • Day-long and weekend excursions to archeological sites, sustainability projects and indigenous communities are built into the program

  • Collaborative research and community advocacy projects will broaden experience with multilingual communication.

  • A homestay with a Mexican family will allow cultural exploration of one’s own cultural framework.

The Maymester in Mexico A outdoor scenery of people walking and a historic architectural building in Mexico in the background. program is open to students from all campuses, schools, and fields of study. The program is interdisciplinary in design to meet a range of student interests. There is no expectation of previous international experience nor Spanish speaking proficiency. We are working to increase access to study abroad to students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. These students may identify as LGBTQ+, students of color, from first-generation families at the university or other categories of difference. The basic criteria for application:

  • GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Will have completed two semesters of university study by summer of international experience
  • No behavioral notations or incidents

(There is no expectation of Spanish language proficiency to be accepted to the program)

This program is supported by Penn State Global. Penn State Global offers partial scholarship to any student applying to study abroad. Please visit this site for more information. Additionally, many Colleges at Penn State offer financial support for students who seek out summer engagement. Talk with your advisor or professors.

This program will have grant support from the Equal Opportunity Planning Committee (EOPC) at Penn State which has the mission of promoting greater equity for historically underrepresented/underserved groups within the University and/or those groups that have been historical targets of discrimination. Students from underrepresented backgrounds including (but not limited to) students of color, LGBT-identifying, dis/abilities, and/or first-generation groups can apply for financial support to participate in this program. This scholarship can be applied to living costs and airfare as well as tuition. There is a supplemental form to complete to apply for this scholarship on the application link below.

Applications are accepted on a rolling admission basis. As students complete their applications, they will be contacted by a faculty lead for a conversation and chance to ask questions. (The first two-credit course of the program begins in mid-Spring semester) Please visit Penn State Global on the link below for the online application form.

Application Period: October 1- February 1, 2022

Priority Deadline: December 10

You must apply to this program by the final deadline, February 1.

If a student applies before the final deadline of Feb. 1 they will be notified of preliminary acceptance early. We strongly encourage you to apply prior to the priority deadline.

Apply Here!

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