Before regular classes begin, you will spend two weeks in BCA's cultural orientation and intensive language program in Cuernavaca. This pre-semester program is the equivalent of a full summer or Jan-term language session and comes at no extra cost when you enroll with BCA Mexico for a semester. During the pre-semester program, you will visit important historic cities and sites, with BCA as your guide.
Depending on your Spanish language proficiency, you may take either regular university courses or courses designed for foreign students. In general, you should have the equivalent of four semesters of college-level Spanish to consider taking regular university courses; classes at the University of Veracruz are challenging and encourage students to engage in the subject material on a daily basis.
BCA Signature Course:
SOC375: Street Children and Popular Education: A Participative Approach
Download syllabus here.
Course Language: This course is taught entirely in Spanish, though readings are in both Spanish and English. A high-intermediate level of Spanish will be required to participate in this course.
Of special interest to students of the following disciplines:
- Social Work
This course is designed to expose students to the realities of some of the major social problems involving Mexico (and by extension, much of the developing world) today, and gain direct experience in strategies toward working with these issues. Using a combined strategy of theoretical and empirical study coordinated with in-the-field practical experiences with local vulnerable populations, BCA Mexico students have the unique opportunity to immediately and directly apply concepts learned in class. At the same time students actively contribute to the programs of the NGO MATRACA, Asociación Civil (civil association), whose fundamental goal is the protection of the human rights of street children in the city of Xalapa and the state of Veracruz. In 2010 Matraca was awarded first place by the UNICEF in the category of Best Practices in working for the human rights of children and adolescents in Mexico. Matraca’s webpage can be viewed at www.matracaac.org.mx
GOALS: Students will gain a general theoretical and practical understanding of basic social concepts such as poverty, street children, human rights, social action in Latin America, and Popular Education. Through the reading of important texts and carefully designed exercises on the central themes of the course, students will become familiar with the basic conditions of poverty in Latin America and Mexico, as well as gain a working knowledge of the core issues of individual and children’s human rights, and the Latin American social development strategy of Popular Education. By actively participating within Matraca’s already established programs as well as developing their own individual projects within these programs, students will gain first-hand experience working with vulnerable populations as well as be able to directly apply the concepts learned in the theoretical part of the course.
COURSE STRUCTURE: This course consists of a balance of both theoretical (classroom) and practical (field) components.
Classroom: In the classroom students meet with the instructors and Matraca personnel to discuss the four central theoretical themes or pillars for this course, which are:
- Street children
- The human rights of children
- Popular Education
Field experience: Concurrent and complimentary to the theoretical component of this course, students participate in one of the several programs operated by Matraca in favor of the street children of Xalapa and their families. These main programs that BCA students participate in are:
- Street work, making contact and building confidence with children living and/or working on the street, introducing them to Matraca’s program and doing research on their conditions.
- Community work, visiting the neighborhoods and families of the street children in an effort to stem the cycle of behaviors and conditions that result in the expulsion of children to the streets.
- Educational work, participating in the free primary and secondary school operated by Matraca.
- Students with interests in other aspects of Matraca’s activities may also participate in these as well.
EDUCATIONAL GOALS AND ASSESSMENT OUTCOMES:
Students who successfully complete this course should advance in the following ways (and demonstrate these advances in their coursework):
- Students will understand and be able to discuss and evaluate the central concepts of Poverty, Marginalized Populations (including but not limited to street children), the importance and Human Rights in both general terms and as they apply to Mexico and more broadly to Latin America and other parts of the developing world.
- Students will be able to apply the above concepts in directly relating to marginalized populations.
- Students will control the general ideas behind Popular Education and be able to apply techniques of Popular Education in their work.
- Students will be able to apply the concept and process of the praxis (as defined within the Popular Education movement) in designing and executing projects.
- Students will gain real-life experience in working with marginalized populations, and understand the challenges that such activities and relationships entail.
- Students will also gain the specialized Spanish language skills necessary to participate actively and constructively in these environments.