Summer Opportunities in Latin America

The Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program offers a variety of engaged learning opportunities intended to allow students to interact with the issues and people that define the Americas. The experiences include internships and practical language training in Costa Rica, Education in Argentina, and Advocacy at W&L’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. See descriptions below for each program.

  • Dates: Courses typically take place during the summer but can begin as early as April if students qualify for "Spring Option." For example, if one begins the EXP class immediately after winter term finals, one could complete the eight-week, four-credit course by early June.
  • Credit: The 451-454 courses range from one to four credits depending on the length of the experience. All require a 4th semester language equivalency (e.g., 162, 164). The grid below will help you select which course best suits you.
  • Requirements: All count toward the W&L EXP course requirement and require that students participate in an assigned activity, such as internship or volunteer experience, and then present a report on their findings upon return. Grades are assigned on a "Satisfactory / Unsatisfactory" basis. Students live with host families.
  • LACS 451-454 count for the LACS Minor.
LACS 454
(4 credits)
LACS 453
(3 credits)
LACS 452
(2 credits)
LACS 451a
(Education, 1 credit)
LACS 451b
(Advocacy, 1 credit)
Pre-Requisites LACS 101;
4th semester language equivalency;
Instructor consent
LACS 101;
4th semester language equivalency;
Instructor consent
Any LACS related course;
4th semester language equivalency;
Instructor consent
Any LACS related course;
4th semester language equivalency;
Instructor consent
Any LACS related course;
4th semester language equivalency*;
Instructor consent
Location Academia de Español Nicoya, Costa Rica Academia de Español Nicoya, Costa Rica Academia de Español Nicoya, Costa Rica Holy Trinity College, Mar de Plata, Argentina Immigrants' Rights Clinic, Lexington, VA
Duration 8 weeks – Summer (can begin during Spring Option) 6 weeks – Summer (can begin during Spring Option) 4 weeks – Summer (can begin during Spring Option) 6 weeks – Summer (can begin during Spring Option) 12 weeks – Fall or Winter
Min. # of Contact hours 64 48 32 16 16
Tasks Volunteer work in public schools, retirement home, wildlife refuge, restaurant, law office, municipal bank Volunteer work in public schools, retirement home, wildlife refuge, restaurant, law office, municipal bank Volunteer work in public schools, retirement home, wildlife refuge, restaurant, law office, municipal bank Teacher's Assistant Requires fluency.
Interpret for student attorneys in the clinic; help clients with immigration applications (paralegal work)
Homestay Yes Yes Yes Usually No

The Costa Rica Program (LACS 452, 453, 454)

For many years W&L students have attended Academia de Español de Nicoya and have achieved tremendous success in terms of language improvement and cultural awareness. Fieldwork courses (LACS 454 and 453) require eight weeks and six weeks respectively. The Practicum course (LACS 452) requires four weeks.

All students spend weeks one through four in language classes for one-half of the day, usually with one instructor for every two students. The language training will give you the skills you need to carry out a successful engaged-learning experience. For the second half of the day, students carry out an assigned activity at one of the vetted volunteer experiences below.

Volunteer LocaleDescription
CACIQUE NICOA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL English teacher assistant, help students with vocabulary, pronunciation, and writing tasks.
NICOYA HIGH SCHOOL English teacher assistant, help students with vocabulary, pronunciation, and writing tasks.
HOGAR DE ANCIANOS (RETIREMENT HOME) Help senior citizens with motor skills thru games and recreational activities for activity and motivation.
OSTIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE** Turtle protection, litter patrol, help baby turtles reach the water, etc.
DANIELA or CHARI’S RESTAURANT Wait on tables, clean and set tables, help English speakers order meals in Spanish, etc.
LAW OFFICE Help legal staff in organizing and filing documents in office, help lawyers with translations from foreigners, etc., attend court when needed.
MUNICIPAL BANK Assist bank workers with daily tasks in the bank.

Students enrolled in the Fieldwork courses remain for an additional two weeks (LACS 453) or four weeks (LACS 454). For weeks five and beyond, students spend the full day in their fieldwork assignment.

Nicoya, Costa Rica is a small town on the Pacific coast, easily accessible to pristine beaches and various national parks. Students stay with host families. Beyond Nicoya, students often visit other well-known sites such as Arenal volcano, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio among others.

Students pay an all-inclusive fee for program, room, and board (except lunch). In 2018, approximate costs stand at $3,750 (8 weeks), $3,020 (6 weeks), $2,145 (4 weeks). The most suitable air arrangements are to fly to Liberia, Costa Rica. The school arranges to pick you up. Questions regarding financial Summer Opportunity Grants should be directed to the Center for International Education.

The Argentine Program—Education (LACS 451)

W&L has a long standing relationship with Holy Trinity College, a prep school (K-12), located in Mar de Plata, Argentina. Students enrolled in the one-credit LACS 451 course work as tutors and teachers’ assistants in a number of areas including Economics, Geography, Biology, and English among others, at any of the four levels, Kindergarten, Primary School, Middle School and High School. Additionally, tutors are involved in activities outside the class, such as coaching the debate club, supporting PE coaches, and other extra-curricular activities.

The six-week program runs from the last week of May until July 9th (the National Holiday). In cases of Spring Option, students may also begin during Spring Term. Tutors typically work from 7:45 am to 4:30 pm. daily.

The school covers the cost of living accommodation through family housing and a small weekly spending allowance for living expenses. (In case family housing is not available, the school will assist interns in finding affordable lodging for the duration of their stay.) The school provides lunch and snacks throughout the week.

Application: There are a number of limited slots available. Students should apply through the LACS Program in December and then make a formal application directly to Holy Trinity College in January.

Students interested in having the one-credit course count for the teacher certification should consult with the Program Head for Education.

Immigrants' RIghts Clinic (W&L Law) — The Advocacy Model (LACS 451) Fall / Winter terms

LACS 451 students can also work at the W&L Law School, at the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. Duties include interpreting for student attorneys in the clinic and/or helping clients with immigration applications (paralegal work). Students must possess a high level of linguistic proficiency in Spanish. There are four slots maximum per term.

Unlike the other summer experiences, LACS 451 may be carried out during the twelve-week term, either fall or winter. Weekly hours vary and must be arranged ahead of time.