Service Learning in Puerto Rico

Spartans are leaving their mark all around the world this summer, including those participating in the Language, Culture, and Service in Puerto Rico study away program. The three-week program includes classes, excursions, but most importantly – service learning activities. Students are immersed in the Puerto Rican culture and help local organizations in a way that has a positive effect on the community.

children playing with students on study away in Puerto RicoMost recently, students in the program completed 12 hours of service to raise money for the Ricky Martin Foundation in San Juan. The mission of this foundation is to “denounce human trafficking and education about its existence through research and community initiatives, anchored in the defense of children and youth rights.”

Students helped at the Tau Beach Soccer Jam, a fundraising event for the organization. They assisted with the games, directed traffic, sold souvenirs, and worked on other tasks as assigned by the organization. Program advisor, Walter P. Hopkins, told students – “service is not about us, rather about meeting the needs of others.”  

The students also were able to use their Spanish speaking skills to interact with participants and spectators on a variety of subjects, and even had the opportunity to delve into deeper conversations including the status of Puerto Rico, which is an issue covered in the course.

Service is not about us, rather about meeting the needs of others.

Walter P. Hopkins

By the end of the study away experience, students will have experienced working with a handful of other community organizations as well as a local preschool where they will help build a playground. 

In addition to service learning experiences, students also are taking two classes: IAH 231C (Roles of Language in Society) with the focus on Language Policy in Puerto Rico, Past, and Present and a three-credit Spanish class at the Institute for Spanish Language Acquisition in San Juan. 

To learn more about study away programs visit the College of Arts & Letters Study Away web page