Special Education in Mexico

Language Requirement: None
Academic Standing by Program Start: Sophomore or above
Location: Mexico
GPA: 3.0
Program Overview


This program has been postponed until Summer 2022

This program is designed to give students studying special education and related fields an opportunity to have an international teaching experience while serving local communities, and learning basic Spanish and about Mexican culture. Before departing for Mexico, the group meets three times to develop a week of lessons that will be delivered during the third week of the trip in a school for children with disabilities in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.


Watch a presentation of the summer 2020 program given by the program faculty leader, Dr. Lillian Duran:

The three-week experience in Mexico spans three different locations; visiting a new location each week.

Bucerias: The program begins with a one-week stay in Bucerias where students will study Spanish and engage in cultural immersion activities. 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 final week in Puerto Vallarta.

Chacala: During the second week, the group moves to Chacala which is a rural fishing village located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. During this week, students will visit schools, read books, and play games with children in a federally funded school for children with disabilities in the nearby town of Las Varas.

Puerto Vallarta: In the final week, the group travels to Puerto Vallarta to work in another school that serves students with moderate to severe disabilities from infancy to adulthood.

In all locations local interpreters are available to help students deliver their lessons and interact with the local students and teachers. All materials will be translated into Spanish. Participants of this program will also prepare adapted books that will be left in Mexico for use by the local schools.

The educational benefits:

1. Advance your 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. Embrace and cultivate culturally responsive practices as a teacher in one of Mexico's many sub-cultures.
4. 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.

Doctoral Student Funding Opportunity: Doctoral students applying to the Special Education in Mexico program may be interested in applying to Project ILEAD. The project is overseen by Professor Duran through the UO School of Education and offers full funding to participate in this study abroad program for summer 2020. An informational flyer can be found here. Contact Professor Duran for further details.

Program Scholarship:

This program will award two scholarships of $750 each. To be considered for a scholarship, applicants must complete the program application, which includes a scholarship essay, by the program's application deadline. Scholarship recipients will then be selected based on financial need, academic merit, and overall quality of their application.

** GEO programs are under continuous review during this period of global uncertainty and limited travel. All program details outlined on this page, including program cost, are subject to change if global or location-specific conditions require modifications to program structure.

Academic Details

This program is a great opportunity for undergraduate students in the special education minor and graduate students in special education, 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 consists of 40 contact hours and 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 language instruction led by a local faculty. This course aims at preparing you for interactions in local Mexican schools and the community.

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.

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Lillian Durán will lead this program during the on-campus preparation and the three weeks of activities in Mexico. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and has led this program since 2016.

Housing Description

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

Dates and Deadlines
TermYearPriority DeadlineDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date
Summer2021TBDTBDLate AugustMid-September

Travel Advisories

For current health, safety, and travel advisory information, search the US Department of State country webpage.

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.