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Global Immersion Program in Puerto Rico

Issues such as race and identity, colonization and immigration will be explored by students.

The USC School of Social Work has added Puerto Rico to its growing list of global immersion programs in an effort to expand its international outreach and give students another opportunity to explore regional social problems and problem-solving in a different culture.

Diversity in a Caribbean Context: Implications for Social Work is a global immersion program in Puerto Rico that will examine how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity.

Associate professor Marie Aranda, who will lead the group, said students will be immersed in social and cultural interactions with students, faculty and alumni from the Beatriz Lassalle School of Social Work at the University of Puerto Rico. They also will work closely with individuals who work at various human service organizations on the island.

Aranda said the University of Puerto Rico has the largest and oldest social work school in Latin America.

“We are very fortunate to collaborate with such a distinguished school and leading provider of graduate education,” she said.

The three-week program begins in May with a weeklong orientation in Los Angeles, where students will receive an overview of Puerto Rico and begin some coursework. Students will then travel to Puerto Rico and participate in two weeks of daily instruction that combines lectures with guest speakers, discussion panels, in-class exercises, small group field work and site visits to community organizations in San Juan, Ponce, Arecibo, Camuy and other communities.

Aranda said some of the practice sites will include community organizing settings and ecological preservation sites. Students may also have the opportunity to shadow health education advocates who work in the field helping persons recover from addictions and other at-risk behaviors.

The students will increase their knowledge of diversity and social work practice by looking at issues such as race and identity, colonization and oppression, immigration/migration, environmental racism and other influences on health and well-being, Aranda added.

“Students will come back with an appreciation and sensitivity for another side of Latino/Hispanic culture that they may not have been aware of,” Aranda said. “I want them to come back with the tools to utilize their ethnic and cultural selves as practitioners and to be able to integrate that in their work, wherever they choose to practice in the world.”

After successfully completing the program, students will receive four credit hours.

For more information, contact Aranda at or the Office of Global and Community Initiatives at (213) 740-3939.

Global Immersion Program in Puerto Rico

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