Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work


Migration-Focused Chicago and Study Abroad Options

Loyola University School of Social Work is creating ways to better prepare our students for practice with immigrant communities. Some of the programmatic options offered to students are the Migration Studies sub-specialization, first and second year summer block field placements in Chiapas, Mexico; border immersion course during Spring break, and 2-week long summer immersion course in Mexico City in collaboration with the Universidad Iberoamericana and Jesuit Migrant Services of Mexico.  In addition, the School of Social Work has partners with the Univerisdad Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), in Chicago to offer Spanish language classes for social workers.

The study abroad program in Mexico and language classes with UNAM complement this sub-specialization, but are not required. All students studying abroad must complete a general application. For information and application forms click the following link: Mexico Field Application - 2015

Those who wish to complete the field placement must submit a supplemental application and participate in an interview. The Mexico internship can be used as a 1st or 2nd year placement (except for students pursuing a schools specialization; this internship must be taken in the U.S.) Interested students will need to complete the application materials and be interviewed by Dr. Maria Vidal de Haymes. Information and application materials can be retrieved from: Mexico Field Application - 2015. In order to be accepted for a field placement, students must have at least a conversational level of Spanish. Spanish is not necessary for the border immersion or Mexico study abroad classes. Please see below for more program details.

*Information and options are subject to change based on enrollment and availability.

Border Immersion and Mexico Study Abroad Course Options

The School of Social Work offers an intensive border immersion course over Spring Break in Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona. The School also offers two courses in Mexico City: SOWK 733 and SOWK 612. Students are required to enroll in both courses. The courses are offered in May immediately following the May graduation. The Mexico City courses are offered concurrently and include several pre-departure sessions and two weeks of intensive study in Mexico. Many students desiring to complete a summer-block field placement in Mexico also enroll in the Mexico City courses that immediately precede the field placement. While this option provides an excellent introduction to Mexico, it is not necessary for the field placement, which can be completed independently form the course option.

Application for the sub-specialization program is required. This sub-specialization is compatible with all specializations. Migration courses are taken in conjunction with specialization requirements. Students interested in this sub-specialization must complete the application and submit it to Professor Maria Vidal de Haymes (mvidal@luc.edu). Three courses are required and can be taken during any year of study: SOWK 731, SOWK 772 and SOWK 730 or SOWK 733.

This sub-specialization can be taken with any one of 5 specializations in the MSW program

  • Students must apply and submit an application for this sub-specialization to Program Director, Dr. Maria Vidal de Haymes at mvidal@luc.edu
  • Applications can be submitted at any time to the Program Director, but admission is at the Program Director’s discretion

Mexico internship is optional

  • SOWK 730—Migration Dynamics and U.S. Social Policy (spring only)
  • SOWK 731—Social Work Practice with Refugees and Immigrants (spring only)
  • SOWK 732—Migration, Social Justice, and Human Rights (fall only)
  • SOWK 733—North American Migration Dynamics & Policy (summer in Mexico only; course is taught in English by a SSW professor; class = SOWK 730)
  • Above migration courses are taken in conjunction with specialization requirements students must complete the requirements of a main specialization i.e. Health, Schools, LDSS, Child and family, or Mental Health
  • Students must complete the requirements of a main specialization i.e. Health, Schools, LDSS, Children and Family, or Mental Health
  • Students pursuing mental health or child and family specializations do not have to take 610F or 610H. SOWK 730 or SOWK 733 substitute for the required policy courses for these tracks. However, students must complete all 3 courses for the sub-specialization in order to receive credit for the course sub-specialization; students who do drop the sub-specialization are required to take 610F or 610H if they are child and family or mental health. Students pursuing health, schools, or LDSS have to take all required specialization courses and sub-specialization courses.
  • SOWK 733 is a pre-approved course substitute for SOWK 730
  • The Study abroad program in Mexico compliments this sub-specialization but is not required. The Mexico internship can be used as a 1st or 2nd year placement (except for students pursuing a schools specialization; this internship must be taken in the U.S.) Students will need to work with Dr. Maria Vidal de Haymes to assess for fluency in Spanish, as some skill in this area is required
  • Hilary Gilway manages all 2nd level fieldwork placements therefore those field work applications should be directed to her (hgilway@luc.edu) and first level applications to Sylvia Corcoran at scorcoran@luc.edu; however, in addition to this, students who want to pursue a field placement in Mexico will also meet for an in-person interview with Dr. Vidal de Haymes and complete the Mexico-field placement application forms as well.



*If you have already taken SOWK 612 you can sign up for an independent study (SOWK 690). Please e-mail mmonahan2@luc.edu and mlundy@luc.edu

SOWK 612: Family Assessment and Intervention, focus on the Mexican Family: taught by Dr. Marta Lundy. This is a 3-credit social work elective.

Description: This course examines different theoretical approaches to assessment and intervention with families, with an exclusive focus on Mexican immigrant families and transnational families with extended family in Mexico. The focus will be on interpersonal interaction patterns, intergenerational interactions and expectations, and systems rather than on individual feelings and behaviors, although those aspects of working with family members are not excluded. Different models of family therapy will be described, applied to case problems, compared with other models and/or theories, and evaluated for their utility and effectiveness.

SOWK 733: North American Migration Dynamics: Challenges, Opportunities, and Alternatives: taught by Dr. Maria Vidal de Haymes. This is a 3-credit migration elective.

Description: This course will incorporate site visits and multiple interdisciplinary guest lectures from Iberoamericana University faculty and social workers from the Mexican public and private human services sector. The class will provide an opportunity for both Iberoamericana and Loyola students to come together to study migration-related issues affecting our respective countries and shared continent. Specifically, the course will focus on central themes concerning opportunities as well as challenges for fundamental social institutions presented by the contemporary migration dynamics and polices of North America. The course will be organized around several major migration themes of concern to North America.

PRE-REQUISITES: If you are an undergraduate student or non-social work graduate student please e-mail the professors at: mlundy@luc.edu and mvidal@luc.edu

DATES OF TRIP: Sunday, May 15 - Saturday, May 28, 2016

LOCATION: Mexico City, Mexico

SCHEDULE: Student must arrive before May 15 and must stay until or stay after the 28. However, housing arrangement may be made for those to arrive earlier or stay longer. If you would like to do this please e-mail mmonahan2@luc.edu.


The immersion course includes field visits to government and non-governmental agencies.

In addition to many educational site visits, students will have one day of site-seeing on the hop on and off tour bus to visit important historical and cultural sites around Mexico City, and one additional free day to see the city. Students will also have several evenings free to explore the city.

The course-related site visits vary by year. A brief description of the sites and organizations frequently visited follow.

Las Patronas: The village of Las Patronas lies in the center of the Eastern Mexican state of Veracruz. Las Patronas, a charitable organization of local Mexican woman coordinated by Norma Romero and her family has helped tens of thousands of Central American migrants in transit through Mexico over the past two decades. They were awarded Mexico's most prestigious human rights prize for their tireless work to provide life saving food rations to the migrants riding freight train. Students have an opportunity to help prepare the rations and distribute them to migrants.

Casa Tochan: This NGO, located in Mexico City, offers shelter to migrants and asylum seekers. Students have an opportunity to visit with residents of the shelter and the human rights workers that coordinate the program.

Jesuit Migrant Services of Mexico (SJM-MX): Students will have opportunities to visit various programs supported by SJM-MX, which can include support groups for migrant women, shelters, soup kitchen’s, and human rights violation documentation programs. They will also have an opportunity to visit with the staff and volunteers of JMS-MX.

Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF): The students may have an opportunity to visit some of the programs of DIF, the public human service agency of the Mexican government. DIF programs attend to issues of poverty, abuse, neglect, child labor, domestic violence, health, education, and nutrition.



Includes housing at Casa Emaus Retreat Center, breakfast, lunch, local transportation, field trips, site seeing trips, and group reception during the stay in Mexico City.


$250 (nonrefundable), which goes toward your program fee.


Airline ticket, dinners (students have dinner on their own most evenings), health insurance, and tuition.

For the past eight years, Loyola University Chicago students have been involved in intensive summer block-field placements with the people and communities of Chiapas. These field-work placements have challenged students to apply classroom knowledge to real-life situations that transcend borders. These transnational opportunities also facilitate comparative and complementary understanding of social issues, social work interventions, and the role of NGOs and the public sector can play in addressing social problems and promoting human capabilities. The Mexico internship can be used as a 1st or 2nd year placement (except for students pursuing a schools specialization; this internship must be taken in the U.S.) Interested students will need to complete the application materials and be interviewed by Dr. Maria Vidal de Haymes. A minimum of conversational Spanish is required. Information and application materials can be retrieved from: Mexico Field Application—2015.

Placements are offered in San Cristobal de las Casas and surrounding communities that are known for the Zapatista movement's influence, as a hub of progressive NGO human rights activism, and inter-culturality. San Cristobal, a city near the Mexico/Guatemala border with colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, museums, markets, and plazas is nestled in mountains and is surrounded by several indigenous Tzotzil Mayan communities, such as San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán. San Cristobal and the neighboring communities have a rich and vibrant culture and history, and is home to a number of indigenous organizations, collectives, and artisanal markets. There are nearby pre-Colombian cities, such as Palenque, national parks.

Students must have a conversational level of Spanish to participate in the Mexico fieldwork option. Student are placed in field placements that match their interests and Spanish fluency. A description of a sample of field placement organizations can be accessed at the following link: Mexico Field Site Descriptions Summer 2014.


There will be 2–3 day orientation in Mexico City, followed by a two-month placement in San Cristobal, Chiapas.

At a minimum, students should have a conversational level of Spanish. Students can take Spanish classes at UNAM in Chicago during the spring semester in order to prepare for summer. Loyola students may work and/or live with students from the Universidad Iberoamericana –Mexico City who are completing their social service requirement. Placement options will be arranged by Loyola faculty in collaboration with professional staff from the Univeridad Iberoamericana to place students based on their level of Spanish fluency and population and practice area interests.

Housing: Students will be assisted by Loyola University and Universidad Iberoamericana to secure housing. Cost is approximately $200–250/per month for a bedroom in a furnished apartment or house. Housing cannot be finalized until the group size is finalized. Price may or may not include utilities.

Meals: Are not covered. Students can buy food and cook at apartment or eat at local restaurants.

Supervision: A Loyola faculty member will be at the orientation. A Loyola staff member will check in on students during the first month of their placements in Chiapas. Students will also remain in contact with Loyola and complete reflections through email, phone, and Skype. Students will also have a local supervisor at their placement site. In addition, students will have several in-person supervision and check-in sessions with professional staff for the Unviersidad Iberoamericana during their stay in Chiapas.




$250 (nonrefundable)

Note: Students signing up for both Mexico City course and field options only pay one deposit of $250


Airline ticket to Mexico City, orientation in Mexico City, transportation from orientation to Chiapas, housing including utilities, local transportation, food, leisure, health insurance. All fees (other than program fee) paid directly by student to local providers, not to Loyola.


Monday, May 30 - Friday, August 5, 2016



January 31: Last day to submit applications for field (this includes the general abroad app and the field specific app)

February 1–15: Interviews for students who want to do the fieldplacement in Mexico (see more info below). Students will be notified if they have been accepted in the field internship program.

February 15: Deposits due for courses and field AND general abroad app due for students signing up for coursework.

Feb 28: Final payments due for courses and fieldStudents must be enrolled in LOCUS for courses and field by this date.


Once the participant group is established, two pre-departure sessions will be held in April. The dates and times are to be determined.

*Students will be required to attend a meeting on international travel during the spring of 2015, the date is TBD.


Students will participate in several pre-departure sessions to prepare for the internship experience. Once the group is finalized the dates will be set.

Arizona-Mexico border

The Race, Culture & Gender on the Border class allows students a visit to the Arizona-Mexico border to take an immersive course that looks at race, culture, gender, and ethnicity as it relates to migration. The class is composed of three days in the Spring Semester in Chicago and then the immersion period in Tucson, Arizona and both Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora Mexico during Spring Break. A valid passport is required since part of the immersion takes place outside of The United States.

This class can be taken by both undergraduate and graduate students as either SOWK 370-010(BSW)/SOWK 502-010(MSW)* Race, Culture, Gender, and Ethnicity: Diversity in Human Experience taught by Dr. Marta Lundy and Dr. Maria Vidal de Haymes. Students also have the option of taking the course as an independent study.

DATES OF TRIP: Sunday, March 6 - Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sites of Interest

KINO BORDER INITIATIVE—Kino has a functioning comedor, or soup kitchen. They provide daily breakfast and lunch for migrants, as well as multiple other services, e.g., minor health care, financial services, shelter for women severely traumatized by their border experiences, clothing, backpacks, personal supplies, etc. Kino will provide you with the personal experience of accompaniment as the Jesuits fulfill their mission to migrants.

DESERT WALK—Kino Border Initiative Jesuit priests will take us on a walk in the desert. Although completely different from the arduous travel of the migrant, you will experience some of the discomfort and the vastness of the desert through this experience.

SAN JUAN BOSCO Shelter—Albergue Juan Bosco is a shelter located in Nogales, Sonora, and it's open 24 hours, seven days a week. Migrants receive two warm meals and a bed, as well as have access to warm showers. They can stay up to three nights. The shelter was founded in 1982 in response to a woman trembling and telling founders, Juan Francisco and Gilda Loureiro, that there were many more like her in a local plaza. The San Juan Bosco shelter for immigrants is named for a Catholic Italian priest who committed his life to help those less fortunate, including orphans. Thirty-one years later, nearly 1 million people have passed through the San Juan Bosco immigrant shelter the couple opened in Nogales, Sonora. Monthly costs run about $8,000. During the last several years the couple has received some funding through government programs, but most of it comes from donations and their savings.

BORDER PATROL—“The United States Border Patrol (USBP) is an American federal law enforcement agency. Its mission is to detect and unauthorized immigrants, terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, and prevent illegal trafficking of people and contraband”

OPERATION STREAMLINE—“Operation Streamline is an initiative of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice begun in 2005 with the intention of establishing “zero-tolerance” immigration enforcement zones along the U.S.-Mexico border. Under Operation Streamline, unauthorized migrants face criminal prosecution and potential prison sentences in addition to formal deportation and removal from the United States. Operation Streamline has drastically increased immigration prosecutions, making ‘Illegal Re-entry’ the most-commonly filed federal charge. In Arizona, Operation Streamline annually costs some $120 million in court proceedings and over $50 million for detention and incarceration.”



Includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, local transportation, field trips, site seeing trips, and group reception.


$250 (non-refundable), which goes toward your program fee


Airline ticket, health insurance (special international health insurance through Loyola), and tuition.

Students can arrive before February 28 or stay after March 5. If you would like to do this please e-mail mmonahan2@luc.edu