Chicago Programs

Study Abroad participants in Chicago

The Centro re-entry experience, based in Chicago, Illinois
For students who participate in our Mexico study abroad programs

MSN Mexico study abroad now includes an innovative Study Abroad re-entry program based in the Centro Autónomo of Albany Park, Chicago. The program's principal aims are: (1) to provide a comprehensive reintegration orientation to help students transition back into US culture, (2) to study the theory and practice of community organizing in the US context.

Over the last seven years, many students have commented that returning to the US can be challenging after spending the semester with some of the most inspiring social movements in Mexico. After co-living with incredibly motivated social actors in Mexico, the combination of rampant consumerism, apathy, and top-down politics-as-usual in the US is hard to confront. Students want to find relevant examples of alternatives in their own country, community, and campus. The re-entry program helps students apply what they learned in Mexico - autonomous, local organizing - within US movements.

The two-week program starts one week after the Mexico semester program ends so that students can take a week to relax and do responsible tourism in Mexico City. It should be noted that this is not a program-sponsored "vacation week," but a gap week between the end of the program in Mexico and the beginning of the re-entry program in Chicago.
Past students who have participated in the re-entry program commented that they couldn't imagine ending their study abroad experience in any other way. The basic idea is for students to do homestays with immigrant families from the neighborhood, participate in our master's classes on community organizing, immerse themselves in the daily activities at the Centro Autónomo, and have workshops with organizers from various organizations and movements here in Chicago. As part of the two-week re-entry program, students will have an opportunity to:

• meet with strong community leaders to discuss organizing dynamics in a Latino community
• meet with facilitators from the Centro's ESL, computer literacy, and adult high school classes
• listen to testimonies from local jornaleros (construction day laborers)
• co-facilitate ESL classes and help with youth programming
• attend the monthly asamblea where community members decide on the direction of the Centro
• participate in the master's classes of the Autonomous University of Socical Movements (AUSM), a 2-year master's program accredited by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that is based in the Centro
• meet with local organizations doing direct action to fight unjust immigration laws (IYJL), recuperate workers' stolen wages (ARISE), and fight against foreclosure and eviction (Communities United)

After four semesters with more than 75% of the participants opting to do the 2-week re-entry program, it is now part of the full program. If for work, internship, or families reason students want to opt-out, they may, but it is a great way to bridge the amazing experiences you'll have in Mexico with the reality you'll return to in the US. We'll also be talking about the Centro re-entry program experience throughout the semester.

Program cost: $1400 (see Costs and Financing page for breakdown)
Please contact us with questions: studyabroad [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org