Unique Spring Break for College of Pharmacy Students

March 19, 2014

While many students are off on the beach during spring break, some College of Pharmacy students are working to advance health care in an underserved area. Each year, College of Pharmacy students help to coordinate a service project to de-worm school kids in Xicotepec, Mexico.

This year, eight students will participate in the trip as part of the course “International Perspectives: Xicotepec,” which is designed to introduce multidisciplinary students to provision of service to a community in a less developed country. In collaboration with Rotary International, students develop discipline-specific projects aimed at improving community life. The course prepares the students culturally and professionally for team work in an international environment.

Upon their return, participating students will present findings from their trip.

About the program

The first communication between the project partners took place in late 2001, and the first visit to Xicotepec by Iowa Rotarians was in February 2002.

In March 2003, 49 members of the first project team spent a week in Xicotepec and helped construct new classrooms at the Escuela Primaria Club Rotario los Tezontles. More than 650 project team members have made up the project teams that have come to Xicotepec in March in every year since. 

In 2007, the University of Iowa began offering the international, interdisciplinary service-learning course "International Perspectives: Xicotepec." Students in this class study Mexican culture, intercultural competency, effective teamwork and discipline-specific topics in preparation for spending spring break in Xicotepec and executing a community service project which is related to their area of study.

The Rotary-University partnership has been especially productive and beneficial for both partners.