International Experience

The Department of Learning & Teaching faculty in SOLES believe that preparing teachers to be globally competent by addressing the needs of diverse communities within and beyond our national boundaries is central to our mission and adds value to candidates’ graduate education. All graduate students in the Department of Learning and Teaching are required to participate in a program-approved internationalization experience during their graduate course of study at USD. This requirement is designed to enhance the students’ international and global knowledge and skills in working with immigrant and international populations and issues, particularly related to education. Students have two options to complete the International Requirement and will discuss with their advisor which option they will choose.

International Experience Requirement Guidelines - 2015/2016

Option 1

  • Complete a SOLES-approved 3-unit course with a travel abroad component. This course can be a program requirement or elective.


Option 2

  • Provide evidence of participating in a cross-cultural experience as a volunteer in a faculty-planned or faculty-led educational or welfare-based agency for a minimum of 42 hours using the following opportunities.
    • Supporting linguistically and culturally diverse populations (minimum 20 hours at one site) at the
      • Bayside Academic Club at either Carson Elementary or Linda Vista Elementary Schools
      • Refugee Tutoring Program at St. Mark’s or St Alban’s Episcopal Church
      • STEAM summer camp at USD
    • Minato School 5 hours) – Lead Faculty: Nori Inoue
    • Center for Community Awareness and Social Action (CASA) trips at USD in San Diego and Tijuana (20 hours) – Lead Faculty: Maya Kalyanpur
    • Linda Vista immersion (8 hours) – Lead Faculty: Viviana Alexandrowicz
    • Other proposed experiences with the DLT International Committee approval (time varies). Students must meet with their advisor to propose the experience and advisor will consult with the committee.
  • For students with visa restrictions, in lieu of the one-day cross border experience, or students who have completed an extensive study or living abroad experience before entry into the program will develop a 20-minute presentation that they will present at a SOLES brown bag event or equivalent forum. The presentation must respond to the following prompts and reflect the breadth of your experience:
    • What was the nature of the work you did? How long was it?
    • Describe its relevance to your future professional practice
    • Compare this educational system with the American educational system on any two of these topics: educational philosophy; pedagogy; curriculum; diversity and special needs populations; technology; professional development and teacher training

Option 2 Descriptions

Bayside Academic Club
Academic Club is a Bayside Community Center program housed at Kit Carson Elementary School. Kit Carson is a Title 1 school where 100% of the students receive free lunch. It is also a community rich with culture, with over 24 languages spoken. The school offers bilingual programs for Spanish-speaking students. The Academic Club is an afterschool program for Kit Carson students who speak English as non-native language. The purpose of the program is to bring up the reading levels and overall literacy skills of the 2nd and 3rd graders enrolled. Students are also provided with homework assistance, but the primary focus is literacy. The Academic Club has helped more than 50% of its students improve their reading scores to reach grade level proficiency.  USD students will tutor at an after school program with elementary school children run by Bayside at Carson Elementary School. For more information and to set up the experience contact: Adam Osorio at | COST: NONE

Episcopal Church Refugee Tutoring Program
The Episcopal Church Refugee Tutoring Program provides free, one-on-one and small group tutoring three days a week to elementary, middle and high school students who were raised in refugee camps. Our students include ethnic minorities from Myanmar and from camps in Sudan. They have all fled violence and persecution in their former homeland and are in America under the auspices of the US government and the United Nations.  Although only a few had the opportunity to learn English their arrival in the US, they are usually the best English speaker in their homes, and are often the conduit in American society for their parents, grandparents and younger siblings. The biggest challenge for tutors involves assisting children who are beginning their American education in middle or high school. The Refugee Tutoring program offers a safe place and a team of caring individuals who assist the children with their schoolwork. For more information, visit our website at: 
Tutoring locations are in City Heights at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and in El Cajon at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. Contact Deborah Dorn at: | COST: None

STEAM Summer Camp
The STEAM Team Summer Academy at the University of San Diego is a week-long program focused on the holistic academic enrichment of middle school students. Through hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, middle school students will engage their creativity, enhance problem solving, and develop communication and critical thinking skills. The daily activities will include designing and building complex chain reaction machines, exploring mathematical concepts through origami, team building through fitness activities, and goal setting in preparation for transition to high school, college and career. For more information and to set up the experience contact Dr. Joi Spencer at | COST: NONE

Minato School
Participants will have the opportunity to visit a local Japanese school (hosoyuko=weekend school) supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education where about 400 Japanese and local children in the greater San Diego area learn though the Japanese national curriculum. The visit includes an introduction to the Japanese education system, observation of an inquiry lesson by an experienced Japanese teacher, discussions of the observed lesson, and discussion on the underlying philosophy with teachers. | COST: $40

CASA trips to San Diego and Tijuana
Through USD’s Karen and Tom Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action (CASA), the Department of Learning & Teaching (DLT) arranges two one-day trips to Tijuana and San Diego. The focus of these trips is to join the border community to better understand the unique political, economic and cultural reality of this region. The impact of US immigration policy is specifically highlighted through engagement with men, woman and children who are directly affected by it on both sides of the border. Students will learn from the work of Community Partners such as Border Angels, Fundación GAIA and the Scouts of Tijuana who have experienced the opportunities and challenges of life along “the fence”. Students will have opportunities to think about their role as a teacher in meeting the needs of students whose lives have been impacted by these disruptions. The CASA/DLT trips are offered once a semester. DLT students must sign up for both trips to meet part of the international requirement. Each trip includes an orientation session before the trip and a reflection session after the trip, which will be held at USD. A fee (as well as a passport copy for the Tijuana trip) must be submitted for registration. | COST: $40 EACH ($80 TOTAL)

Linda Vista Immersion
The Linda Vista Immersion (LVI) is part of the shift in paradigm of how we view “study abroad” experiences. Instead of traveling overseas to new countries and foreign lands, USD students will literally turn left out of USD’s campus and immerse themselves in their own backyard: Linda Vista. One of the most diverse communities in San Diego with over 35 dialects spoken in a 3-4 mile geographic radius, Linda Vista is a culturally diverse community that offers USD students the opportunity to experience and interact with students from a variety of cultural backgrounds one mile from campus. While the diversity brings an abundance of unique foods, populations, and community activities, Linda Vista is also one of the hardest hit communities socio-economically in the County of San Diego. USD students who participate in this immersion experience will learn about the realities of living in an underserved community that lacks access to employment, health care, transportation, healthy food, and quality education. They will be challenged by the social inequities and disparities that exist while simultaneously being introduced to the assets and richness the community has to offer: its history, people, culture, and resilience. Most importantly, they will meaningfully engage with their community, “Linda Vista: The Home of the University of San Diego”.  For more information and to set up the experience contact Kim Heinle at | COST: $40

For more information, please consult with your faculty advisor. 

Options and Resources