The UVA-GI was formed over 10 years ago to “promote the development of mutually beneficial and sustainable relationships between UVA and the peoples and communities of Guatemala.” Because the UVA-Guatemala Initiative places a premium on long-term relationships, we often say: “the relationship then the program then the project.” The continuing emphasis on the importance of maintaining relationships. This is one of the reasons that we stress preparation and “expectation management.” This is because, to us, the relationships that we have with each of our collaborators in Guatemala are our most important resource.
The UVA-Guatemala Initiative is a great opportunity for all UVA members. We have had Faculty, Residents, Medical Students, Graduate and Undergraduate students in the program all seeking an international and global opportunity to enhance their growth and development. The students have come from a vast range of majors, to include medical, premedical, nursing (including CNL), business, and liberal arts as well as other programs.
UVA-GI projects are ongoing and are often built upon the prior student teams or individual research. The projects are carefully considered, discussed and are mentored by our Guatemalan team members and collaborators as to ensure integrity, respect, and value for the people of Guatemala. Projects are Healthy Communities; Water Filtration; Waste Water Management; Women’s Health; Mental Health; Solar Heat; Language Enrichment Programs (LEP); EMS Capacity Systems (Telemedicine); Electronic Medical Records (EMR); Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Global Health at Home (GHAH).
The UVA-Guatemala Initiative offers a host of programs, all which promote respectful and ethical education, service, and research within a framework of sustainable long-term relationships. These programs and opportunities are overall design to enhance the lives of the students by learning and working in Guatemala.
SLC elective for 4th year medical students: This program is available throughout the year to 4th year UVA medical students. It offers them the opportunity to spend 6-8 weeks in the highlands of Guatemala, providing clinical care within rural Guatemalan communities. The SLC curriculum combines a carefully structured program of pre-departure preparation, in-country orientation, Spanish language immersion, clinical education, and supervised patient care within the context of sustainable relationships.
SLC international resident’s rotation: A resident-level SLC experience that is available throughout the year to UVA medical residents that have an interest in international medicine. It follows a similar template as the SLC-Guatemala senior medical student elective, but with supervision and responsibility commensurate with the experience of a senior-level resident. Residents are matched to a Phase III medical service site based on their interests, capabilities, and the needs of that particular site.
SLC for MS4s and residents is a unique learning opportunity in the highlands of Guatemala that combines medical service, Spanish language acquisition and cultural education, in the context of building sustainable relationships with the people and communities of Guatemala.
The SLC program is designed to provide the participants an experience that is a cultural immersion into a supportive medical community. It is a program that will cause one to appreciate and communicate at levels and depths you may have never considered. For many, this experience brings a passion for service, solidifies the idea of medicine touching lives, and improving today’s world for tomorrow’s generation.
This Summer Opportunity Abroad program is open to UVa undergraduates, 2nd year medical students, and Clinical Nurse Leadership (CNL) students during summer break. The SOA program is designed to provide students the opportunity to spend 6-9 weeks within Guatemala — combining research or service learning opportunities with cultural orientation, Spanish language immersion, and an introduction to international health. Students are placed in collaborating Guatemalan communities as members of interdisciplinary project teams working on research projects in fulfillment of various UVA course assignments. An emphasis is placed on sustainable collaborations and community participation.
This 16-day multicultural and interdisciplinary UVa Study Abroad course is a collaboration of four different UVa schools and the University del Valle de Guatemala (UVG). It offers UVA undergraduates an introduction to international global health, an exposure to the culture and peoples of the highland of Guatemala, and a chance to learn and interact with students from another culture. Students from both schools are full participants within the course, with del Valle students carefully selected by UVG staff at the Altiplano campus.
This program is designed to provide UVA physicians, faculty, nurses and staff to spend 10-12 days in Guatemala. The FEA is carefully structured to introduction international service learning — combined with cultural orientation, medical education lectures, and a Spanish language immersion experience. Participants also visit students’ research sites around Xela and the Lake Atitlán area.
In addition to its formally structured programs, the UVA-Guatemala Initiative works closely with UVA students and/or groups (medical and non-medical) looking to explore opportunities in appropriate public health-related research, education, or medical humanities work within Guatemala. Students must have a co-mentor from within their department and agree to participate fully in pre-departure preparations, as well as an intensive in-country orientation process. Research opportunities are integrated into existing UVA-GI program structures. An example is a current Engineering in Context collaboration with the community of Tzununa to test point-of-source water filter technology.
This program provides UVA clinical nursing staff a structured introduction to the culture and people of Guatemala with Spanish language immersion and an introduction to Guatemalan medicine. Small groups of UVA nursing staff spend 10 days in Guatemala while completing a carefully developed program of Spanish immersion, cultural study, networking, and site visitations.
Highly Efficient Linguistic Pathways for Spanish (HELPS) This program is design as a flexible Spanish language curriculum (based on Second Language Acquisition principles) that is adaptable to each user, flexible in timing, and economical. A flexible curriculum involving: (1) individualized language lessons on-line (2) weekly assigned homework and (3) technology-based learning resources (Ear/Voice time) – was developed. Participants were asked to commit 3 hours each week to these activities. Individualized language lessons were conducted through video conferencing with experienced teachers at the Celas Maya Spanish School in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Participants self-reported weekly hours spent on each activity; this was validated with their teachers. An assessment of language progression was also completed with each participant.
Continuous Lessons On-Line (CLOL) This program is design as a continuation after HELPS as a flexible Spanish language curriculum (based on Second Language Acquisition principles) that is adaptable to each user, flexible in timing and economical. A flexible curriculum involving: (1) individualized language lessons on-line (2) weekly assigned homework and (3) technology-based learning resources (Ear/Voice time) – was developed. Participants were asked to commit 3 hours each week to these activities. Individualized language lessons were conducted through video conferencing with experienced teachers at the Celas Maya Spanish School in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
The UVA-GI facilitates the placement of small numbers of carefully screened UVA graduates within communities and/or organizations within Guatemala that are currently collaborating with UVA. Students typically spend 6-10 months in Guatemala, usually as a “gap year” prior to advancing to other opportunities. During this time, they receive close mentorship and guidance.