Loyola University Chicago

Center for Immigrant & Refugee Accompaniment (CIRA)

School of Social Work

International Fieldwork and Service Learning Internship Program


Social Work field placements and service learning internship opportunities in migrant source, transit, destination, and return communities are offered for undergraduate and graduate students from Loyola and partner Mexican Jesuit institutions of higher education. A two-way student internship exchange program is offered in  collaboration with the Universidad Iberoamericana-Mexico City and Puebla, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Jesuit Migrant Services of Mexico.   Catholic Charities provides social service placements for Iberoamericana students in fall, spring, and summer sessions.  The CIRA offers monthly workshops for the Iberoamericana students regarding U.S. social welfare and immigrant policies and programs in the United States paired with reflection sessions with the School’s Chaplain,   Jerry Overbeck.  In turn, the Universidad Iberoamericana and Jesuit Migrant Services of Mexico host Loyola Social Work students in  summer block field placements in Mexico.  Through the exchange program, Loyola students have participated in block-field placements in the Mexican states of México, Puebla, Hidalgo, Chiapas, and Veracruz.  The Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, ITESO, the Jesuit University of Guadalajara, has recently joined in the partnership to extend two-way immersion service learning and fieldwork options for our respective students to study and work alongside one another in Chicago, Mexico City, and the state of Jalisco.

These internships challenge 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 NGOs, faith-based organizations, and the public sector can play in addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by migration in our region. Participants also have an opportunity to learn directly from migrant community leaders that have developed mutual aid projects, as well as local community allies that join in their efforts. The internships also facilitate intercultural and foreign language learning. For some participants they provide an introduction to new communities and contexts and for first and second generation immigrant students the internships present an opportunity connect and to give back to their communities of origin and ancestry.

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