El Salvador & Guatemala: Social Work

*Please note:  The next time this program will run is Spring/Summer 2022. Details below are subject to change.

San Salvador, El Salvador and Lake Atitlán, Guatemala — This program will expose students to the rich cultures of El Salvador and Guatemala, expanding their awareness of issues of social justice, peace and human rights as they relate to social work in Central America.

The first half of the program, students will be based in the capital city of San Salvador. Students will meet with people that have been affected by social issues such as immigration, sex work, gangs, human trafficking and others. There will be a two-day excursion to the rural community of Santa Marta, where students will live with local families and participate in a service learning project. The second half of the course includes travel to Guatemala City and San Juan on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. There they will meet with indigenous communities surrounding Lake Atitlán and explore indigenous communities’ unique and distinct world views and cultures.

Student Blogs

2014 - Erin Hand

2014 - Chris Borda

2014 - Ken Ford


El Salvador Social Work Flickr

Cultural Information: El Salvador

Cultural Information: Guatemala

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Image 1 of 4 El Salvador
GPA Requirement
2.0 Undergraduate
3.0 Graduate
English Language Requirement

Program Dates and Application Deadline

Spring/Summer 2021

Program Dates: July 31, 2021 - August 14, 2021
Application Deadline: February 1, 2021 (Closed)

Spring/Summer 2022

Estimated Program Dates: July 2022 - August 2022
Application Deadline: February 1, 2022

(2.5 weeks)


El Salvador & Guatemala

Undergraduate students will register for a total of 3 credits:


SW 354: International Service (3 credits)

Fulfills General Education Global Perspectives requirement.

Fulfills (1) General Education Issues course requirement. Reflection required.


SW 630: Social Work Global Service Learning (3 credits)

Language of Instruction: English


Participants will live in a guest house in San Salvador, with host families in rural Santa Marta and in a quaint Inn on Lake Atitlán in Santiago, Guatemala.


Cost and Scholarships

El Salvador & Guatemala


Program Fee: $2,500


  • Round-trip airfare from Grand Rapids
  • All ground transportation
  • Accommodation and all meals
  • Course materials
  • Field trips
  • Visa (obtained at airport in San Salvador)

Other Expenses

  • *GVSU tuition (3 undergraduate credits = $1,698 OR 3 graduate credits = $2,013, 2020 tuition rate)
  • Personal Expenses (Optional) ($400)
  • Recommended Vaccinations (Optional) ($375)
  • Program materials ($150)
  • Additional snacks (Optional) ($150)
  • Passport ($150)

Total Projected Cost (Program Fee + Other Expenses) = $5,423 (Undergraduate) OR $5,733 (Graduate)


FACULTY-LED PROGRAM GRANT (Up to $1,500): All degree-seeking students who apply to their faculty-led program by the priority deadline are automatically considered for a grant of up to $1,500 from the Padnos International Center. Students must have a current FAFSA on file to be eligible. No application required.

James F. and Virginia L. Goode Global Programs Scholarship: The purpose of the scholarship is to reduce the financial pressure on students and their families and make a Grand Valley education accessible to students from all backgrounds. This need-based scholarship will ensure that financial need does not become a barrier to intellectual and personal growth for students planning to study abroad. MyScholarships: https://gvsu.academicworks.com/opportunities/10186

Visit www.gvsu.edu/studyabroad/scholarships for additional information on grants and scholarships.


To contact the Financial Aid office, email finaid@gvsu.edu with “Study Abroad” in the Subject line. Include your G Number and Total Projected Cost of the program in the e-mail. 

Non-GVSU Students: Non-GVSU students admitted for study abroad are not eligible for Financial Aid from GVSU. Check with your home school’s study abroad and financial aid offices for details on applying for financial aid from your home school toward study abroad program costs. 

Financial Aid FAQs


Open to BSW and MSW majors and students in other disciplines with permission from the director. 

Open to graduate students.

2.0 GPA (undergraduate) or 3.0 GPA (graduate) required.

GVSU is happy to extend this opportunity to Non-GVSU students.

Already Applied

CDC Report

CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.

Checkout CDC Report For El Salvador

Checkout CDC Report For Guatemala


US State Department Information

The first step to an international trip is to read our Traveler’s Checklist to find out things to consider before you go. Pay special attention to our safety and security information and assess for yourself the risk of traveling to a particular country or region.  Some U.S. citizens with special considerations – such as students, women, and LGBTI travelers – may face additional challenges when abroad.  If you do decide to travel, make a plan for what to do if something goes wrong overseas. 

Checkout US State Department Information For El Salvador

Checkout US State Department Information For Guatemala

Contact Information

Spring/Summer 2021
Jamie Langlois
Program Assistant
Paola Leon
Program Director
Spring/Summer 2022
Jamie Langlois
Program Assistant
Paola Leon
Program Director

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