University of Oregon

Special Education in Mexico

Program Overview

This program is designed to give students from special education and related fields an opportunity to have an international teaching experience, learn some basic Spanish, and learn about Mexican culture.
Before departing for Mexico, the group meets three times to develop a week’s worth of lessons that will be delivered during the second week of the trip in a school for children with disabilities in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. All materials will be translated into Spanish. Local interpreters will be hired to allow students to interact with the local teachers and students. Participants of this program will also prepare adapted books that will be left in Mexico for use by local schools.
This is a two-week experience that begins with a one week stay in Chacala which is a rural fishing village with a pristine local beach on the Pacific Coast in Mexico. During this week students will take Spanish language classes for four hours each day from an experienced local Spanish language teacher. The classes focus on learning conversational Spanish that educators will need to work with families such as appropriate greetings, common phrases, and answering simple questions. The language teacher also supports students in practicing reading the books and delivering the lessons they have brought with them for their teaching experience the following week in Puerto Vallarta.
During this first week, students will also visit, read books, and play games with children in a federally funded school for children with disabilities in the nearby town of Las Varas. The trip also includes three outings during this first week including visiting a sacred petroglyphs site, going on a river trip, and visiting a local market.
The following week, the group is transported to Puerto Vallarta to work in another school that serves students with moderate to severe disabilities from infancy to adulthood. Local interpreters are hired to help students deliver their lessons and interact with the local students and teachers.
 The educational benefits:
1. Advance the conversational Spanish skills that will be particularly helpful in interacting with Spanish-speaking families in the US.
2. Learn how to work with an interpreter in order to deliver instruction and interact with students.
3. Gain experience with the special education system in Mexico, to better your ability to describe the special education system to families in the US who may be newly arrived from Mexico.
4. Embrace and cultivate culturally responsive practices as a teacher in one of Mexico's many sub-cultures.


Academic Details

This program is a great opportunity for undergraduate students in the special education minor and graduate students in the special education program as well as related programs such as school psychology, communication disorders, and general education. Doctoral students are encouraged to apply. Doctoral students will engage in delivering staff trainings in addition to the other requirements for graduate students.
Students will enroll in two courses:
Special Education in Mexico – Taught by Dr. Lillian Durán. This course includes an on-campus planning stage in which you will work with Dr. Durán to prepare educational materials that will be used during the program and donated to the local schools. While in Mexico, you will engage in supervised teaching in local schools serving children with special needs.
Spanish Language: You will receive 20 hours of Spanish instruction led by a local faculty. This course aims at preparing you for interactions in local Mexican schools and the community.

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Lillian Durán will lead this program during the on-campus preparation and the two weeks of activities in Mexico. She has a PhD in Educational Psychology and has led this program over the last five years.

Housing Description

You will stay in vacation rental homes with single and double rooms. You will have the choice of preparing meals together or eating at local restaurants.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearPriority DeadlineFinal DeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.