International Civic Engagement in Mexico

Social Justice and Engaged Scholarship at UPAEP

  • An innovative civic engagement/service learning project that gives you the opportunity to become an integral contributing member of a unique rural Mexican community, La Preciosita.

  • A six-week hands-on learning experience offering an interdisciplinary curriculum that combines an intensive Spanish language component with an introduction to Mexican society, history, culture and economics.

  • Based at the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), where students will participate in lectures and seminars prior to the service learning component.

  • A series of exclusive workshops that focus on the environment and local and native industries will take place in the community, along with a reflective seminar.


Spend six weeks and earn 6 credits while learning about Mexican culture and society! The Arcadia Civic Engagement Summer Program at UPAEP is an extraordinary opportunity that combines dynamic classroom instruction and fieldwork and homestay experience.

This program is designed to allow participants to truly become part of a community, living with a local family. Students will have the opportunity to learn about culture, tradition, family life, education and self-sustaining agricultural and artistic production in a variety of community-based initiatives.

Contact A Past Participant The program consists of two courses. Students spend the first two weeks at UPAEP, learning about culture and society in Mexico and the structure of the community where they will spend the remainder of the program. Lectures will be given in English and Spanish (with English translation) for a total of thirty hours. Lectures cover a range of topics relating to contemporary Mexico, including history, economics, society, indigenousness, religion, education, poverty and migration. Students also study Spanish language (45 hours) to build language facility for the civic engagement component.

Both courses begin at UPAEP and continue through the service learning component in La Preciosita. Group reflection sessions throughout the program assist students in preparing for and engaging in the service learning experience in the rural community of La Preciosita.

About the Service Learning Component

La Preciosita is a rural community of just 700 inhabitants situated in 740 acres of forest (part of which is a nature reserve owned by the people). Like many other communities in Mexico, it has been particularly affected by citizens’ migration to the United States. Students will be engaged in service learning activities in agriculture, forestry and education. Living with local families will allow students to participate in family activities, from assisting with buying and preparing food to daily tasks.

Group workshops taught by members of the community will underscore the service learning component. The opportunity to live and learn in a community of this type will bring students a new understanding of the nation of Mexico and its traditions, as well as its social and economic challenges and opportunities. Group activities will include community service projects, as well as social interactions within the community.

Service Learning Activities

Learning Activities are diverse in nature and take place in addition to daily activities that students observe while residing with host families. Service Learning Activities are based upon student experience and interests, and may include: English as a Second Language instruction for children and youth; agricultural tasks alongside host families; ecological preservation at the river or in the reserve; botanical survey completion; or community theater productions with young people.

Cultural Excursions

There are several cultural excursions planned on the weekends in and around Puebla. Learn more.


Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) is one of the top universities in Puebla, a city known for its high number of universities. It was established in 1973 to provide educational opportunities to the people of Puebla and the wider world. The University serves over 10,000 students in both undergraduate and graduate programs on a number of campuses. The University is fully engaged in the community, in the City of Puebla, and in many nearby communities, including La Preciosita. The connection with La Preciosita involves UPAEP students, staff and faculty in service learning all year round.

Housing and Meals

While in Puebla, students will reside in university housing, where they will be responsible for their own meals. During the service learning component, students will reside with local host families, taking part in family routines, and assisting with day-to-day activities. The service learning component includes some meals. Housing and some meals are included on the field-study excursions to Mexico City, Oaxaca and Veracruz. Learn more about housing.

Credits and Grades

You will earn six semester hours of credit for the summer program.

Admission Requirements

GPA Requirements: 2.8 on a 4.0 scale.

You must be in good academic standing and not on disciplinary probation. You need to submit a complete application including a transcript, letter of recommendation and an advisor's form before your application will be considered.

Application Deadline

  • March 31

Space is limited for this program. Apply today to reserve your place!