Mexico City Cultural Immersion 2012
This summer, California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) students from various Alliant International University campuses in California participated in Alliant’s 2012 Mexico City Cultural Immersion Program. It’s a five week summer immersion program designed primarily for graduate and undergraduate psychology students interested in gaining an international perspective toward social-justice oriented mental health approaches. However, students from other universities and Alliant programs, Alliant alumni, faculty, staff and friends are all also welcome.
Participants in the immersion program spend five weeks in Mexico City and surrounding states taking part in cultural, academic and community events. Students also have the option of taking a second five weeks of online coursework following their trip, to meet the requirements for a certificate in Latin American family therapy.
This program, designed by Dr. Jason Platt, counseling psychology program director at the Mexico City campus, exposes students to clinical theories for serving impoverished and oppressed communities around Mexico City. Quickly, students develop increased awareness of how U.S. culture tends to shape most mental health approaches. Consistent with Alliant’s mission, this cultural immersion program helps to train professionals who can address real world, significant societal issues in the communities in which they work, including the “global community.”
The program, which includes Spanish language training for mental health workers, features specialized academic courses such as “Latin American and Liberation Psychologies” and “Cross Cultural Topics: Critical Issues in Latin America.” Other activities attendees participate in include: helping to facilitate a camp for children who have been living on the street and who are finding new life options, taking a journey to rural Mexico and participating in a Temezcal, a traditional Mexican healing ritual used in medical practices as a therapeutic instrument. “The lectures, the exposure, the personal interactions with families in small villages, etc., all helped me open my eyes,” said one participant.
“Exposure to a new culture and way of life is always a life-impacting experience,” says Platt. Cultural immersion at Alliant goes beyond the average university-led program because in addition to the educational aspect, students must commit theory to practice. Furthermore, while learning about their field within a different culture, students have the chance to meet faculty and future colleagues from multiple campuses and universities who share a passion for social-justice oriented mental health approaches from an international perspective.