Each Fall Semester Westmont in Mexico
Discover the Mexico you never knew...
Are you the kind of person who loves a challenge and an adventure? Does becoming more fluent in another language and building relationships with people of other cultures excite you? Would you like to explore Christianity in a new context and grow in ways you never thought possible? Well, Westmont in Mexico may be just for you! Westmont in Mexico (WIM) is a fall semester program led by Westmont faculty and located in the beautiful, colonial city of Querétaro. On this program, students gain skills for effective cross-cultural living, experience incarnational ministry, and improve their Spanish language abilities. WIM offers students the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in Mexican culture through home stays, coursework, and field trips within the context of a supportive Christian community. Another distinctive feature is its "cycle of learning" consisting of orientation, in-country, and re-entry seminars.
"Spending the whole semester in the same city allowed us to really feel the heartbeat of our host families, Querétaro, and the Mexican culture at large."
- Gabriel, History & Spanish Major
- Dante, Data Analytics & Business Major
WIM is designed to be a part of the general education curriculum, and fulfills several GE requirements. Students from all majors are encouraged to apply.
The city of Santiago de Querétaro is located on Mexico’s high central plateau, 136 miles northwest of Mexico City in the rich agricultural region of the Bajío. At an altitude of more than 6,000 feet, it enjoys a pleasant climate, much like Santa Barbara. Founded in the 16th century, Querétaro is both a charming colonial center which played a significant role in the country’s history and a modern city with a population of approximately one million. It prides itself on being one of Mexico's cleanest and most picturesque cities, and it remains one of its safest. One of the advantages the city provides for a study abroad program is that it is “off-the-beaten” tourist track. As one of the most intellectual cities in Mexico, it is blessed with rich resources in art, music, literature, drama, and colonial architecture. In recognition of its historical importance and cultural treasures, the United Nations has designated Querétaro as a world heritage site.
During the semester you will live with a carefully chosen Mexican family. You will be informed of your placement during the orientation course, and will even have an opportunity to correspond and get to know your family before the program begins. Care is taken to group students in neighborhoods close to each other. All participants will have their own bedroom, meals with the family, and laundry service. The families are eager to incorporate you into their daily lives - to treat you like their hijo o hija - and students consistently report that the homestay was one of the most rewarding aspects of their experience abroad.
An integral part of the WIM curriculum involves several organized field trips to explore the rich diversity of Mexico. For example, you will travel to the megalopolis of Mexico City and to rural indigenous villages; you'll walk along cobblestoned, colonial streets and wade through rivers and streams; you'll climb mountains and monuments and walk under arches and waterfalls. One of your profesors, along with the Westmont faculty resident director, will be your guides.
- Bernal Peak, one of the world's largest monoliths
- The Sierra Gorda, where Father Serra began his magnificent missions
- Mexico City and the pyramids of Teotihaucan
- Oaxaca, including the ruins of Mitla and Monte Albán
WIM offers an integrative curriculum, in which topics learned in one class are reinforced and expanded upon in others, as well as in field trips and local excursions. Most importantly, students are learning and applying something new each and every day both inside and outside the classroom.
Students in WIM typically take 16 units. Most classes are 3 units. The Westmont Resident Director teaches one course, "Engaging Cultures," which is an integrative seminar designed to help you process the entire experience. All other courses are taught by highly qualified Mexican university professors.
- Intermediate Spanish (SP 3/4) GE Modern Language
- Advanced Spanish (SP 100) & Language in Context (SP 105) GE Writing Intensive
- Advanced Oral Skills, Composition, and Grammar (for advanced Spanish students)
- Mexican History & Civilization GE Thinking Historically, Common Inquiries
- Principles of Art: Mexico GE Performing & Interpreting the Arts
- Integrative Seminar: Engaging Culture GE Thinking Globally
- Latin Dance GE PEA
- Latin American Literature I & II GE Reading Imaginative Literature
- Mexican Literature GE Reading Imaginative Literature
- Literary Translation (for upper-level students)
- Mexico/US Relations GE Political Science Elective
- Mexican Schools Field Experience (Liberal Studies Practicum, for students with advanced Spanish)
WIM has a 2-unit pre-departure orientation seminar (IS 192) during the spring semester and an optional reentry seminar (IS 197) upon arrival back home.
- A bonus of the program is the intensive Spanish language courses, allowing you to complete the equivalent of one year's language study in just one semester
- The WIM program as a whole satisfies the GE Communicating Cross-Culturally
- Students will return with multiple GEs satisfied (typically 5-7 GEs) and up to 16 units for a Spanish minor or major.
Faculty for Fall 2018
I'm delighted to be leading WIM 2018, living and learning alongside Westmont students in Queretaro, a beautiful city with a rich Mexican culture. I am no stranger to student extracurricular activities, having organized and led German student groups staying with host families in London for two summers.
When I was 18 I took a year to travel around the world before starting my study of German Literature and Linguistic at the University of Heidelberg and one of my best memories is staying with a host family for 8 weeks in Antigua, Guatemala. There I fell in love with the Hispanic culture, particularly the wide variety of music, visual arts, architecture, religious expression, history and food(!). Because of this great experience in Antigua I applied for a teaching position in a German school in Guatemala city after grad school. I was offered that position in Guatemala, but I also got another great offer for a position teaching in Germany. With only one day to decide, I took the position in Germany and since then I have longed for the opportunity to work and live in that fascinating Hispanic culture.
With my family I have traveled extensively in Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico. I’ve enjoyed my trips tremendously, but there is a big difference between being a tourist, traveling from one place to the other, and really living in a place for a longer period of time, building up relationships and getting immersed in a new culture.
Three years ago, when Dr. Elias was leading WIM, I visited Queretaro because my 15 year old daughter attended a private high school there for one semester. She was so fortunate to find a very nice host family who took her in like their own daughter. She became not only fluent in Spanish but, what is even more important, she has made unforgettable friends and developed into a more diversified person, as much intrigued by and fascinated with the Mexican culture as I am. I was never worried having her in Queretaro, Mexico because it is such a safe town. My experience and hers exemplifies what an enriching time the Westmont students will have. It's so much more than just learning a language! I can't wait to share this wonderful experience with you together with my husband, Leo, and my 14 year old son, Jascha.
The WIM handbook is designed to help current WIM students navigate their semester abroad once you are accepted into the program. Approximately 12-18 students are accepted for the program, and no more than 20. The handbook will answer many of your questions as you prepare for your trip, as well as give you valuable information while living in Mexico. Click here to download a copy of the current handbook.
There are no additional costs to study abroad in Mexico; you pay the same tuition, room and board as being on campus and keep your financial aid as well.
- Sophomores, juniors, and seniors from any major. Freshmen are especially encouraged to apply.
- One semester of college Spanish or the equivalent.
- 2-unit pre-departure orientation seminar during the spring semester (IS 192).