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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 features a four-week study abroad experience in Oaxaca, Mexico for Penn State undergraduates from all campuses, schools, and fields of study.  The program offers learning experiences in multilingual and multicultural communities. Classroom and community-based interactions will build equity-minded and social justice dispositions, leadership, and advocacy skills. Students will learn and use another language in daily activities residing and sharing meals in Mexican homes as well as classroom language instruction in Spanish or Zapotec, an indigenous language widely spoken in the state of Oaxaca.   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 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 397A: Maymester in Mexico: Language, Culture and Community-Based Learning (2 credits) in the Spring semester and CI 397B: Maymester in Mexico: Language, Culture and Community-Based Learning (2 credits) for the summer course in Mexico. 

Spring course - CI 397A: Maymester in Mexico: Language, Culture and Community-Based Learning (2 credits) 

March 15 - April 30, 2021 (6 weeks)   An outdoor scenery of the school hallways in Oaxaca.

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

Summer course - CI 397B: Maymester in Mexico: Language, Culture and Community-Based Learning (2 credits) 

May - June (Dates to be announced)

This interdisciplinary course offered onsite in Oaxaca will touch on many areas of study, including second language learning, bilingual eduation, indigenous knowledges, anthropology, women’s studies, immigration, 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 directly in and collaborating with indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities for social justice, leadership, advocacy, interculturality, and deeper knowledge of race/racism 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 betaught 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). 
  • 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 basic criteria for application:

  • GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Has completed two semesters of university study
  • No behavioral notations or incidents

(There is no expectation of Spanish language proficiency)

This program has the support of the Equal Opportunity Planning Committee (EOPC) at Penn State University 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). 

Additionally, Global Programs offers scholarship support for study abroad as do many of the College through their general scholarship programs. 

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 course begins in mid Spring semester). Please visit the Global Programs site for further application information and the online application form.

Application Deadline:   November 1, 2020 - February 1, 2021. 

You must apply to this program by the final deadline, February 1, 2021.

If students apply by the priority deadline, 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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