Xavier's Solidarity Semester is based in Nicaragua's capital city, Managua. Managua is the country's largest city, full of culture and history, and sits on the edge of breathtaking natural landmarks. Students live with host families in Barrio la Luz, a neighborhood located in the heart of the city and close to public transportation and the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), or Central American University, where some courses are held.
The semester experience combines at least 15 credit hours of academic study with work in the community.
- A Xavier University faculty member teaches several of the courses and guides and supervises the students, along with the help of a trip assistant.
- Students volunteer 10-12 hours per week at community-based agencies in the city.
- The courses offered meet core requirements.
- All programs begin with a one- to two-week orientation in Cincinnati and end with a two-week debriefing period.
- The program occurs every Spring semester.
A primary goal of the entire semester is integration of the academic study with the experience of service and accompaniment. The academic component provides students with knowledge of the culture, religion, history, government, and economics of the area in which the semester takes place, with an emphasis on issues of social justice. The service component functions as the medium through which learning occurs by placing all study in the context of living and working with the economically poor.
Reflection is a major component of the program and is integrated in many ways. In addition to the academic focus, the course of study helps participants relate sensitively to people across ethnic and class boundaries. There are also opportunities to interact with community-based organizations and leaders.
"It is a learning experience that breaks down boundaries between people of different backgrounds and reduces stereotypes. It gave me insight into who people are and how all our experiences in life are intertwined." Nicaraguan program alum
"It was the best experience of my life; I grew in every way possible." Nicaraguan program alum