SIT Arica: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment
About the Program
The SIT program model is one of experiential learning abroad. SIT has been providing immersive, field-based study abroad programs for undergraduates for more than 50 years. SIT programs are based on the experiential learning model, which merges hands-on learning with reflection. Programs combine classroom learning with time spent in the field observing, interacting with local stakeholders, and learning from local experts.
Site visits and other learning experiences are relevant to the program’s theme. A program focused on global health may include visits to hospitals, rural clinics, or refugee camps. A program focused on economy may include an internship with a local business or financial institution. Students studying climate change and natural resource management may spend extensive time in nature reserves and national parks.
This experiential approach gives you the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of a critical global issue. You may find yourself interviewing local community members in the local language (with the help of a translator, when necessary), observing wildlife in its natural habitat, practicing a local art form, or participating in a community project designed by local development experts.
The SIT Study Abroad Chile: Public Health and Community Welfare program offers students unique in-sight and exposure to healthcare politics in a multicultural and rapidly changing region of South America. This program, which looks at the impact of migration and demographic shifts on the cultural composition of Chilean society, will provide future professional health practitioners, policy makers and social activists with an essential understanding of Latin American cultures within the health services field.
Based in Chile’s northern-most city of Arica, and including excursions to Tacna, Peru and the Mapuche territory in the southern part of the country, this program offers numerous opportunities for engagement and interaction with faculty members at the Universidad de Tarapacá, medical health professionals, local and national government health officials, urban and rural residents, herbalists, intercultural medicine practitioners, and local university students in both urban and rural settings. These interactions will allow students to develop a comprehensive, up-close understanding of health and community welfare.
Arica is historically home to indigenous peoples and ethnic communities of African descent, plus a wide array of immigrants from throughout Latin America and the world. Despite these communities’ shared geography, there are major differences in cultural worldviews, health practices, and equal and equitable access to health services. Given Arica’s strategic location on the borders of Peru and Bolivia, you will be able to examine healthcare from unique international perspectives. You will learn about cross-border issues and initiatives concerning health policy on topics including primary healthcare and infectious disease management (for example, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis).
Fields of Study
Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, International Development, Latin American Studies, Public Health, Social Policy and Practice, Sociology
This program will provide students interested in public health, health sciences, development studies, and other disciplines the opportunity to scrutinize health-related challenges as they intersect with traditional medicinal practices. Students will learn from academics and practitioners associated with leading institutions in Chile.
- 3.0 cumulative GPA
- Completion of two course in Spanish at Tulane, including SPAN 2040 or higher, with a grade of B or higher in the year prior to study abroad
- Previous college-level coursework in public health, development studies, or other related fields is also required
Major topics of study include:
Chile’s national and indigenous healthcare systems
In addition to courses focusing on these topics, students will take a Public Health Research Methods and Ethics course to prepare you for your Independent Study Project or internship. During the final four weeks of the program, you will either participate in an internship seminar or conduct an Independent Study Project.
- The specific health needs and practices of indigenous populations
- Social, economic, political, structural, and ideological determinants of public health planning, practices, and outcomes
- Diversity of healing and spiritual beliefs
- Health of women, children, teenagers, the elderly, and other potentially vulnerable populations
- Public health, community participation, and community empowerment
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a health facility; a social, community, or indigenous organization; a nonprofit institution; or a university in Arica, Putre, Makewe, or Santiago. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and to enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete an internship and submit a paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization. The internship will be conducted in Spanish.
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
Conducted in Arica, Santiago, Valparaíso, Temuco, or other approved locations appropriate to the project, the Independent Study Project offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice or perform a health practicum within the program's thematic parameters. The project integrates learning from the various components of the program, and culminates in a final presentation and formal research paper. Students may choose to incorporate a guided practicum experience into the project as well. Sample topic areas: women's health; community outreach; drug and alcohol treatment; traditional and intercultural health; Chilean health policy; AIDS treatment promotion and prevention policies; indigenous health practices; epidemiology; etc.
SIT programs are cohort- and field-based. You will be intensely studying a topic with a group of American students, taking a prescribed set of courses. These courses are supplemented by guest lectures given by local specialists in the fields of study along with site visits and excursions to various locations within the country.
Educational excursions are an important component of this program and provide different contexts in which to examine healthcare delivery. Program excursions may include field visits to public health centers throughout Arica and the surrounding valleys, including community medical centers, hospitals, public health centers, rural health facilities, mental health centers, and women’s health centers.
Longer excursions include traveling to the rural area of Putre in the high plains (altiplano), where the Aymara people of Chile originate, and Temuco in southern Chile, home to the indigenous Mapuche nation.
Putre (northern Chile)
During a seven-day excursion to the Chilean highlands you will study the health practices and beliefs of the Aymara people. You will see a rural health system, Chile’s intercultural health practices, alternative medicine, and the Aymara cosmovision. You will also experience northern Chile’s impressive natural beauty at Chungara Lake, Lauca National Park, and the Lauca Biosphere Reserve.
Temuco/Makewe (Mapuche Territory)
On this 10-day excursion you will visit a Chilean intercultural hospital in the town of Makewe outside the city of Temuco, and you will explore health beliefs and practices of the Mapuche people and access to alternative methods of healthcare. You will debate multiculturalism in relation to healthcare, and you will have the opportunity to learn how healthcare policies and politics directly affect indigenous people and contribute to discrimination and social marginalization. You will also have the opportunity to see the region’s beautiful volcanoes, valleys, and forests.
During a five-day visit to the capital, you will visit the Chilean Ministry of Health, speak with national health policymakers, and visit organizations striving to improve access to healthcare for marginalized and vulnerable populations. You will also get a close look at the work of community-based and advocacy groups focusing on the rights of indigenous migrants to urban areas, including the Aymara, Mapuche, and Rapa Nui peoples.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
During your time in Chile, you will have the opportunity to live with three homestay families who can offer insight into the relationship between families, health, and well-being. You will deepen and challenge your emerging understanding of family and community in three different sites, comparing urban mestizo to rural indigenous communities, thus allowing you to form a more comprehensive understanding of each.
Host families come from different social and cultural backgrounds. You will typically enjoy breakfast and lunch with them, and on weekends you may enjoy sharing family activities together, which could include birthday, anniversary, or other family celebrations.
Homestay locations will include the following:
Urban Homestay in Arica
You will stay for seven weeks with a carefully selected family in a residential neighborhood of Arica.
Rural Homestay in Putre
During your second homestay, for six days with an Aymara family in high-altitude Putre, you will be able to participate in daily activities typical of this small, slow-paced town while learning about traditional medicine practices from such community leaders as shamans and traditional birth attendants.
Rural Homestay in Makewe
The six-day homestay in the rural village of Makewe, near the city of Temuco, is with an indigenous Mapuche family. You will share in daily community life, which might include farming, animal care, or meal preparation. All homestays are in the immediate vicinity of the Mapuche Intercultural Hospital, and health-related activities are common.
SIT Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine and Community Empowerment
Contact Past Participants