UCF Students Gain Insight Through Service-Learning

July 25, 2017

In June, a group of University of Central Florida students and faculty members traveled to San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico for a service-learning program at a Tzotzil school in Corazón de María.

UCF collaborated with Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas (UNACH) on the project. The UCF group encompassed a wide range of undergraduate students with majors as diverse as creative writing, biomedical sciences, nursing and political science. Dr. Maria Santana, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program, and the Dean of the Burnett Honors College and psychology Professor Dr. Alvin Wang accompanied the students during the program.

A highlight of the trip for the UCF participants was visiting a local middle school, where they cleaned and painted classrooms, created murals on the outside walls of the school, planted 25 trees, distributed donations of clothes and dental hygiene products, and helped the young students practice English through sports and games. The service-learning students also gained valuable insight from the experience.

This trip was eye-opening in a lot of different way,” said UCF student, Hannah Greene. “I’m happy I was able to work with the Corazon and UNACH students, and learn about a way of life that is so different from mine.”

Students who are interested in participating in the program next summer should contact Dr. Santana at santana@ucf.edu.

An article about the trip was published in Unidad De Gestion Y Analisis de la Comunicacion Social Universitaria. Dr. Santana provided this translation:

UCF and UNACH do community projects at San Cristóbal de las Casas

  • Developing different activities with minors from the Corazón de María
  • With the participation of the foundation She Wins

San Cristóbal de las Casas—Chiapas, Mexico —-A group of students and faculty developed community activities with the Tzotzil school in Corazón de María, about 25 miles from San Cristóbal de las Casas, as part of the October 2016 agreement between the Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas (UNACH) and UCF.

The agreement became a reality through the efforts of UNACH rector (president) Carlos Eugenio Ruiz Hernández, the secretary of Interinstitutional Relations, Iván Camacho Morales and the foundation She Wins Mexico.

UNACH President Ruiz Hernández explained that the civic engagement effort involves the Middle School “Vicente Guerrero” two UCF faculty, 6 UCF students and 12 UNACH students from their Language B. A. program.

The groups will integrate knowledge about the US and Mexican culture while working with the middle school students in Spanish and English.

Camacho Morales emphasized that both universities will evaluate this experience since it is the first international effort with the middle school, also adding the importance of continuing the Service Learning aspect of the project.

Camacho Morales explained that efforts like this are in line with the internationalization new initiatives of UNACH that involve local authorizes as well as the student body.