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:

October 10, 2019

Academic Program

Photo of student with local children

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.

This course requires 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.

Spring 2020 Program Dates

Saturday, March 14- Sunday, March 22, 2020

In addition to time spent abroad in Mexico over Spring Break, there are additional course commitments on campus throughout the spring semester worth 2 s.h. The course meets on Tuesdays from 6pm-8:15pm.

Faculty Directors

photo of mural in town

Public Health / Section :0001
Jeffrey Dawson and Sophie Switzer

Dentistry / Section :0003
Steven Levy and Amy Lesch

Sociology / Section :0004
Mary Noonan

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.


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.


Flights are included in the cost of the program and all students and faculty will fly to Mexico together from Des Moines (DSM) airport. All transfers to/from airport and to/from project sites in Mexico are arranged by Rotary and included in the program cost.


As with any place, students should practice common sense safety while abroad. Everyone is encouraged to read the Department of State Travel Advisory.


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.


The Spring Break 2020 program cost for the Public Health and Sociology sections is $2262 and the program cost for the Dentistry section is $2412. 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.

Spring 2020 Cost Sheets:

PDFPublic Health :0001
PDFDentistry :0003
PDFSociology :0004

This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and is used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

Financial aid received to attend the University of Iowa may be applied toward the program cost. More information is available at:

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 October application deadline.

2) Following the discussion with a Faculty Director, students must complete a Study Abroad Application for the course. The Online Application opens August 26, 2019 and the Application Deadline is October 10, 2019. Please apply early.

The application process requires a copy of the information page of your passport. If a student is applying for a passport, they should indicate this on the form.

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 by Friday, October 25 and also complete an application through the Rotary District 6000 website. The deadline to complete the Rotary application for the Spring 2020 course is November 3, 2019. Instructions for both of these steps will be emailed to students in an acceptance email.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Withdrawal policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to University of Iowa Study Abroad. If for any reason you withdraw after the Confirmation Deadline and before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what you will be required to pay to the University of Iowa. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which your costs will be calculated.

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
Within the first nine days after the confirmation deadline Administrative fee: $400
Portion of course fee: $100
10-19 days past the confirmation deadline Administrative fee: $400
Portion of course fee: 50%
20-44 days past the confirmation deadline Administrative fee: $400
Portion of course fee: 75%
45 or more days past the confirmation deadline Administrative fee: 100%
Portion of course fee: 100%

Confirmation Materials Spring 2020

Next Steps:

  • Sign and submit the Confirmation of Participation formPDFand return to Study Abroad.
    Confirmation Deadline: Friday, October 25 at 5pm

  • Submit the Rotary Application through the Rotary District 6000 website.
    Application Deadline: November 3, 2019.

You should also:

Vaccinations and Health/Safety

We'll address many of the issues related to health and safety during the orientation sessions, but until then, our general advice is to check with your doctor about any health concerns you have before going abroad. Take a look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website for Mexico-specific health information and visit your doctor or the Travel Nurse at Student Health for any vaccinations you might need.


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.