Office of International Programs


Culture and Community Services in Belize:
A Service Learning Course

January 1-11, 2013

SWO 322 or 599 (3 undergraduate or graduate credits in Social Work)
BUS 336 (3 undergraduate International Business credits)

This course satisfies the International Core Requirement
for undergraduate students

USM Group on Mayan Ruins

The Community Services in Belize course provides an opportunity to gain an understanding and appreciation of the very diverse Belizean culture, where English is the 'official' language, while interacting with children, adults, and staff in several agencies. We will learn about the high incidence of child abuse and neglect, services for the elderly, programs/schooling for adolescents, concerns around domestic violence, and positive efforts toward helping women develop independence through building income-producing skills and enterprises.

As part of our service-learning, we will interact with children and staff at the Dorothy Menzies Children Home, a facility for abused, neglected, and abandoned children and adolescents. We will also visit a second children's home in Belmopan, the country's capital city. Students will develop an understanding of potential clinical issues related to institutional placement of children: deprivation, dependency, attachment disorders, and physical and mental delays. Students will also get to know the culture of Belize through various other social service venues or educational settings: visits and/or activities with students at local schools; engagement with a local women's enterprise group called the MAMA's to whom we have previously brought sewing machines and a large supply of fabric; and, a visit to a nursing home where we will engage residents in an activity.

Balancing work with play, we will learn about the culture through interesting and fun visits to tourist sites which stimulate Belize economy: a Mayan ruin, a historical museum, the zoo, cave tubing, and a trip to one of the Cayes (islands) in the second largest coral reef system in the world. Each day will begin with breakfast together at the hotel and then travel by chartered bus to the various sites for our serving learning activities. Built into each day (and some evenings) is debriefing the day and planning for the next one. We will also have discussions about history, cultural diversity, societal issues and social services in developing countries such as Belize, cultural sensitivity, cultural competence, and global citizenship.

In addition to our service-learning in Belize, there will be a pre-trip reading, two class meetings in Portland on Saturdays in mid-November or early December, daily journaling while in Belize, and a final project to be completed before the end of February.


Barbara Rich, Associate Professor, USM School of Social Work. Barbara has over twenty-five years of teaching experience and holds a Masters degree in social work (MSW) from Columbia University in New York. She attended the social work doctoral program at Boston College and is currently Chair of the Practice Sequence in USM's School of Social Work. This will be Barbara's fourth time leading this program.

Stacia Fitch



A complete application includes all of the following and is due at the Office of International Programs by September 28, 2012:

* Signed, completed application form*
* $200 non-refundable deposit (applied to the program cost)
* Typed 200-word essay
* A letter of recommendation from a faculty member or academic advisor
* Official copies of all academic transcripts

Incomplete applications will not be accepted. You will be notified by e-mail of your application status. If your application is not accepted, the nonrefundable deposit will be returned. If the program is canceled for any reason by the USM, all deposits will be returned.

* If you are having trouble downloading the application, please contact us at (207) 780-4959 or and we will send you one. You may also want to try upgrading to the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.


The program fee for the Belize program is $2845. The cost of three credits of tuition and fees at the in-state rate are additional. The program fee includes accommodation, roundtrip airfare from Boston, bus transportation to Logan airport, scheduled in-country travel, site visits, field trips, all meals in Belize, bottled water throughout the program, and emergency medical and evacuation insurance through iNext.

Not included in the program fee is the cost of tuition, fees, books, academic supplies, snacks, or other personal expenses. Three credits of undergraduate tuition is $759 plus $84 for the university unified fee and three credits of graduate tuition is $1140 plus $84 for the university unified fee. All participants on USM travel programs receive the in-state tuition rate regardless of residency.

The winter session is part of the fall semester and these additional credits may put you in a higher bracket for other academic fees. Please visit the Student Accounts website for complete information on tuition and fees. All participants on USM travel programs receive the in-state tuition rate regardless of residency.

All participants will be automatically registered for a payment plan. The $200 deposit will go towards the cost of the program and the remaining balance will be due as follows:

50% of the balance due Friday, November 2, 2012
Remaining balance due Friday, December 7, 2012