Migration, Justice and Human Rights: Mexico (Reading Week)

When applying please note your preference for the Reading Week program, Migration, Justice and Human Rights.

Program dates

Date Activity
January – February, 2015 Orientation and pre-departure learning sessions
February 14 – 22, 2015 International placement in Mexico, exact dates may vary depending on flight availability
March 2015 Post-placement reflection sessions and public engagement event

Please note these dates may be adjusted but will be confirmed before you receive an offer of a placement.


All UBC Vancouver students are welcome to apply.

Program overview

Up to 20 students have the opportunity to explore the learning theme of migration, justice and human rights by participating in an International Service Learning (ISL) placement in Mexico during Reading Week in February 2015. You will also participate in pre-departure learning sessions; facilitated reflection; and post-placement activities as part of this program.

You will travel as a group to work alongside Tsomanotik on projects in Chiapas, Mexico. Your experience will be led by UBC facilitators, Tsomanotik staff and a facilitator with expertise in migration issues in Mexico and globally. You will engage as a group in a hands-on service project while learning about the issues related to migration, justice and human rights through daily learning activities and facilitated reflection. The program will also include learning activities and dialogue with local organizations and activists.

Community partner

We have been working closely with Ana Elena Barrios to develop and facilitate this program. Ana Elena has an extensive background in working on issues related to migration, and has been working in Chiapas since 2009. She brings a passion for social justice and human rights related to migration, along with her expertise and experience. Our community partner for this experience is Tsomanotik. Tsomanotik is an eco-agricultural demonstration centre for just and sustainable community development. Their vision is for solidarity and a more just society where marginalized groups in Chiapas are heard and play an active role in the community development process. Ana Elena and Tsomanotik are excited to work with UBC students on the critical issues of migration, justice and human rights.

Community Placement

Patterns of human migration play a key role in shaping the lives of people in Chiapas and the development of the State. Conversely, the historical and current economic and political situation of Chiapas in Mexico has greatly influenced migration patterns. Chiapas is a destination for migrants from Central America searching for economic opportunity in the state, and as a route to travel through to the United States and Canada. Migration from Chiapas – to destinations within and outside of Mexico – has also been increasing since the early nineties in Chiapas. There are many community organizations working in Chiapas on key issues related to migration. Tsomanotik and other organizations are also working to combat some of the ‘push’ factors that contribute to people choosing to emigrate by working with communities to create sustainable alternatives.

You will be working on a project in Comitan, a small city in Chiapas about 30 minutes from Tsomanotik. The Migrant’s Commission, a  group of concerned citizens and faith-based groups, have decided to build a ‘migrant’s house’ in Comitan – a shelter for migrants making the dangerous journey from Central America through Mexico to the United States and Canada. You will work alongside the Migrant’s Commission assisting with a hands-on project to advance the safety and security of migrants who are staying at the migrant’s house. Previous projects have included work at the Migrant’s House including building sections of the house and painting projects.

Leading up to your placement (Pre-departure)

Pre-departure learning sessions take place in the weeks before you leave for your placement; it prepares you for an intensive International Service Learning experience.  During pre-departure you will explore learning topics at regular meetings with your placement team.

Living environment

You will stay at the Tsomanotik eco-agricultural centre, in very basic hostel-like accommodation with bunk beds in shared rooms. The project location is about 30 minutes from the town of Comitan in the Chiapas state of Mexico.

After you’ve returned (Post-placement)

After you’ve returned, you’ll regroup, reflect and work at unpacking the intensive experience you’ve had.  The post-placement activities you will participate in include;

  • A debrief with advisors and peers
  • Presentation at a public engagement event

Program cost

We expect the program fee to be approximately $2,200 – $2,550*. Fees include:

  • Pre-departure learning sessions
  • Room and board
  • Return flight
  • Local transportation
  • Professional advisors
  • Reflection materials
  • Community partner management fee
  • ISL project management fee

*Fees will be confirmed upon placement offer. The variable cost of the program is due to price fluctuations with flight bookings.
* students will automatically be assessed for a $500 ISL Award to offset program costs.

** If you do not have a Canadian or American passport, please be aware that most flights will be booked through the United States and may require you to have a transit visa.

Visas and vaccinations are not included in the program fee.

Am I eligible for the International Service Learning Award?

If accepted in to the ISL program you will be automatically assessed for eligibility for the $500 International Service Learning Award.  You’re eligible if you:

  1. Successfully completed at least 18 credits in the Winter Session prior to the program*
  2. Achieved 70% or higher on your best 18 credits in the session prior to the program
  3. Have no failed or incomplete courses during the Winter Session prior to the program

*Students in their first year of study during the 2014 – 2015 Winter Session will be assessed based on 9 credits during term 1