Return to the search form Return to your search results

International Perspectives: Xicotepec

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Spring Break


Xicotepec, Mexico


Resident, 1 credit hour

Program Features

UI Faculty-Led


Good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:


This service-learning course is designed to introduce multidisciplinary students to community service projects in a less developed country. In collaboration with Rotary International, students develop discipline-specific projects aimed at improving community life in Xicotepec, Mexico and gain cultural and professional team work experience in an international environment.

Academic Program

Photo of student with local children

This course includes travel to Xicotepec, Mexico over Spring Break (1 s.h.). There are additional course commitments on campus throughout the Spring Semester (2 s.h.). The on-campus course meets on Tuesdays from 6:00-8:15pm. Permission of the course instructor in your College is required.

Work & Partnership

The Xicotepec Project is a humanitarian, community-development project sponsored by the Rotary Club of Xicotepec and Rotary District 6000 of Iowa. The project began in 2002 and has involved not only Rotarians and their families, but also many high-school and university students. Project team members have a commitment to humanitarian service and participate enthusiastically throughout their week in Xicotepec.

The main purpose of the course is to work on selected projects sponsored by the Xicotepec Rotary Club. Rotary helps support and execute projects that address some of the most urgent needs in the community, including construction, dental and medical care, education and Participants may be asked to perform several different jobs during the week.

Faculty Directors

Public Health / Section :0001
Jeffrey Dawson and Sophie Switzer

Dentistry / Section :0003
Steven Levy and Amy Lesch

Program Dates

photo of mural in town

The course will not be offered in Spring 2022.
It is tentatively planned to run again in Spring 2023.

For More Information

For more information about this program please contact the appropriate Faculty Director listed above. The program is coordinated in Study Abroad by Leslie McNeilus

Xicotepec, Mexico

photo of neighborhood in town, houses

Xicotepec is a mountainous city of 90,000 located northeast of Mexico City. The city is known for its abundant vegetation, so it is no surprise that in the central square of the town, you can see colorful arrays of flowers and trees pruned to resemble human or animal figures. Along with plants, coffee is another main product of Xicotepec, giving the city the pleasant aroma of fresh flowers and roasted coffee beans.

The city offers a unique combination of the communion of the pre-Hispanic and colonial times. La Parroquia de San Juan Bautista has a Gothic majesty that resembles the famous Parisian Cathedral of Notre Dame; this architectural piece coexists harmoniously with a colossal stone structure of over thirteen tons known as La Xochipila, a vestige of the pre-Hispanic city of Xicotepec and the celebration center of the current city, where the structure comes alive with color and mysticism during the holidays.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

Students stay in dorms at the Centro Cruz Azul ('CCA'), which is a Catholic convent, meeting center, and home to several nuns. There are separate student dorms for men and women. The dorms are open rooms with beds and each dorm has a bathroom with several showers, sinks, and toilets. The dorms are not heated or air conditioned. Be sure to bring a towel, wash cloth, and all toiletries. A small flashlight can also be handy. The CCA is the base of operations during the week and all project team members will eat, meet to receive daily work assignments, have work team meetings, etc. at the CCA


All meals will be at the Centro Cruz Azul and are included in the cost of the program.


If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Important notice for students without a valid passport or whose passport will expire within the next 12 months:

US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for the visa you will need to enter your host country.

Expedited processing service is available for US passports (although this still takes several weeks and is at an additional cost). UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-US Citizens

Students who are not US citizens should contact their consulate for more information if they need to get a new passport or renew their passport.

Travel Arrangements

Flights are included in the cost of the program and all students and faculty will fly to Mexico together from Des Moines (DSM) airport.

Local Transportation

All transfers to/from airport and to/from project sites in Mexico are arranged by Rotary and included in the program cost.


Eligibility varies by section, please contact the appropriate Faculty Director for more information.
All participants must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa.


This course will not be offered in Spring 2022. It is tentatively planned to run again in Spring 2023.

The cost is billed to participating students' u-bills after registration and includes:

  • airfare
  • instruction
  • 1 semester hour of credit
  • meals in Mexico
  • transportation in Mexico
  • Study Abroad administrative fee
  • mandatory CISI travel insurance

The program cost outlined above does not include the application fee ($50 billed when application is submitted).

Other out-of-pocket expenses include passport fee, medical checks or immunizations, and personal expenses.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Undergraduate applicants are encouraged to apply for Need-based, Merit, and Diversity Ambassador scholarships awarded by Study Abroad. More information is available on the Study Abroad website.

Financial aid received to attend the University of Iowa (scholarships, grants, and loans) may be applied toward the program cost. Students are encouraged to speak with someone in Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

How to Apply

1) Students should first meet with the appropriate Faculty Director to discuss their interest and eligibility for this course. This should take place before the application deadline.

2) Following the discussion with a Faculty Director, students must complete a Study Abroad Application for the course. The application process requires a copy of the information page of your passport.

3) Once students have been accepted by their Faculty Director and the Study Abroad Office, they will be asked to submit a Study Abroad Confirmation Form and also complete an application through the Rotary District 6000 website. Instructions for both of these steps will be emailed to students in an acceptance email.

Application Deadline


Confirmation Materials

Next Steps:

  • Sign and submit the Confirmation of Participation and return to Study Abroad.

  • Submit the Rotary Application through the Rotary District 6000 website.

You should also:

Health & Safety Planning

All students preparing to study abroad should review the following:

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the Health Preparation Guide for International Travelform with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.


To prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs ICON course “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals, and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions, you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your faculty director and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your faculty director will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.