Loyola University Maryland

International Programs

San Salvador: Information for Parents

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Program Director

Kenneth Kwarciany
Assistant Director
Office of International Programs
Phone: 410-617-2910
kckwarciany@loyola.edu

Thank you for your interest in our study abroad programs! The goal of this page is to help you better understand the El Salvador CASA semester study abroad program and highlight distinguishing features and components that will interest you as a parent. More detailed and updated information are given to your son or daughter in information sessions, academic reviews, workshops, and predeparture orientations. Once you read this information, we strongly encourage you to discuss this with your son/daughter first. Please know all information is given to the students and we ask students to share all of this with you. 

Sending students abroad is a partnership with students, parents and university and program officials. We realize that you will have questions and if our website or son/daughter cannot answer those questions, we will be happy to discuss the study abroad process and program information with you. Please keep in mind that due to the FERPA federal regulation, we will not be able to discuss specific information regarding your son/daughter; however, if your son/daughter is willing to sign a waiver form indicating the specific information to be shared with you, we will be more than happy to discuss specific matters regarding your son/daughter.

We hope you find this information helpful in assisting your son/daughter to accomplish his or her goal of learning, living, and serving abroad. We look forward to working with you and your son/daughter.

Background

Loyola’s program in San Salvador, El Salvador is an extremely unique program offered to students who wish to truly immerse themselves in a culture and work alongside the people of this country for many of its social issues. It is a program that revolves around service and being part of a force bettering San Salvador’s issues and communities. It is based on the idea of community and serving others. It is offered for either the fall or spring semester and the university usually sends about three to six students each semester. 

This program is run, since 1999, by Santa Clara University in partnership with the Jesuit University, Universidad Centroamericana Simeon Canas (UCA) and their Casa de la Solidaridad (CASA) program. The mission of the Casa program is to promotion of justice and solidarity through the creation of a meaningful academic experience. Students can integrate rigorous academic study with direct immersion with the poor of El Salvador. Casa is a very unique community based learning program.

For more information, please take a look at Santa Clara's website.

Travel/Arriving to El Salvador

For the El Salvador program, students are responsible for their own airfare (booking and purchasing). Loyola recommends to students to purchase their airline ticket through a reputable travel agent or agency. We do know that online sites do offer less expensive tickets, but in the event there is a crisis that affects air travel, like snow storms, on-line sites may not be able to address your questions in a timely fashion, or it could shut down completely due to high volume requests. Travel agents may have inside information to help you make ticket changes quicker and can provide you with the most up to date airline and travel information.

Students will fly into El Salvador International Airport (commonly known as Comalapa International Airport- SAL).  It is located about 30 miles from San Salvador’s center. Students will be picked up at the airport by a representative of CASA and be brought to the CASA housing.

CASA provides a great list of items that students should pack. Please keep in mind that students are asked to bring very little for the semester (this detailed list is in the CASA student handbook). Students should also follow the baggage restrictions set by the airline in which they are booked. While preparing and packing your child, please be checking their website periodically and make sure that you are complying with their baggage weight and number of bags restrictions.   

Please download the CASA Program Handbook sent to students by Santa Clara University.

On-Site Support

Our students are supported by two on-site directors, Kevin  and Trena Yonkers-Talz. Kevin and Trena have been the program directors for many years; they know the program and the city of San Salvador very well, making them great resources for our students. They are the main point of contact for any questions, concerns, academic issues, illnesses or other matters all day, every day. 

Our students are also supported by house fellows. Each housing dorm, "casas," has a "becario" that is usually working and studying alongside our students at the university. They are bilingual and can help students with any of their day-to-day concerns or issues. Each house also provides a community coordinator that works as the house leader. 

Academics

The CASA program is a program that is offered by the partnership of Santa Clara University in California with University of Central America in San Salvador, where students will take their classes. Professors are experts in their fields and extremely knowledgeable about Central America. Credits are issues through Santa Clara University and the official transcript will be received from SCU as well. 

Students will take a full academic course load of five classes, equivalent to 15 credits a semester. Loyola students are required to enroll in a course on Spanish (various levels offered based on student’s ability), as well as the required PRAXIS/Field Placement class. The PRAXIS site will be chosen by the student based on their academic and non-academic interests and involves some class time accompanied by a commitment to time in the "field."

The courses offered for the semester program are as follows: Salvadoran Literature, Political Science, Latin American Theology, History, Sociology and Economics. Students will be registered into their classes during their application process.

The learning style is integrated and interdisciplinary and examines the social, political and economic reality of the people of El Salvador. The academic curriculum incorporates traditional classroom activities, participative research, and interaction with the local community.

Housing

Students live among other American and international students in the residence halls, "casas." It is a small living and learning community near the University of Central America, San Salvador for CASA students. There are three casas and Loyola students are spread out among the three houses. The house names are "Casa Romero," "Casa Silvia," and "Casa Ita." The houses are within a minutes walking distance of each other. As mentioned above, there is a community coordinator in each house that can support students in the day to day activities as well as plan/organize activities for the house. 

Each house also has a kitchen staff that will prepare all meals for that house. All meals are provided in the price of the program and are simple and healthy. The house eats together and uses meals as bonding time as a group. Each student’s classes will be planned around the house meals and will allow them time to get home and be able to eat with their housemates.

Each student is provided with a bed, pillow, desk, fan and bed linens. Students must bring their own towel. It is very important to keep in mind that there are no clothes washers or dryers. There are large sink basins in each house to hand wash their clothes. We highly urge students to keep this in mind when packing.

San Salvador/City life 

Students will take classes and live in the center of San Salvador (Holy Savior in English). The city is the capital city of the Republic of El Salvador. It is the country’s most populated municipality as well as its most important political, cultural, educational and financial center. It is home to all heads of state.

Being that the mission of the CASA program is promoting solidarity with El Salvador and its people; students will get the opportunity to spend time in this major city as well as visit and spend time in the outskirts. Through the Praxis site requirement, students will be assigned to a site. The sites vary in location as well as responsibilities. Working and being with the people of each student’s PRAXIS site becomes a weekly routine and is considered as important, if not more important, than student’s academic schedule.

Health Insurance

Loyola has also arranged emergency travel assistance/evacuation and repatriation coverage for each student through Chartis.  It is required that students have an active domestic health care policy that covers medical issues while abroad.  Each student should check with their current health care provider to ensure they will provide coverage while abroad-most will do so on a reimbursement basis. We keep proof of this in the student’s file just in case, the proof usually is a letter from the insurance company or a print out of the international policy description from one’s policy.

In terms of travelling to El Salvador, we highly recommend that students research suggested/required vaccinations and precautions of the Center for Disease Control. You can also contact your local travel clinic, student health center and/or family doctor for further recommendations. The CASA Program will do everything possible to help students avoid illness and keep them healthy.

Costs/Benefits 

Because this is a Loyola program, all financial aid remains the same except for federal work study. Students pay Loyola tuition, the average cost for a room on campus for juniors, and a $500 program fee. In addition to this, students are responsible for purchasing their airline tickets. Students also must submit a $350 non-refundable study abroad deposit to hold their place.

Student’s expenses in El Salvador will vary greatly depending on how much they travel, shop and eat in restaurants. This program is very unique in its simplicity and format, so students do not tend to spend as much as they do on our other Loyola programs.  Also something to keep in mind is that El Salvador is not an expensive country. The range for how much students spent in the past semesters is between $2,000-$5,000. It is a very large range, but again, will depend on how much your student travels, shops, and eats in a restaurant.

Money/Banking in El Salvador

You and your family will soon become experts at international banking transactions. You will want quick access to your funds, and you will also want to protect your money against loss. 

The currency of El Salvador is now the U.S. dollar. It is highly recommended that students bringing over U.S. dollars bring over crisp/new bills.

The majority of students keeps their money in their American bank accounts and draw from there. We strongly encourage all students to go and meet with their bank before going abroad, give them the dates that you will be in El Salvador and also find out charges and fees for taking money out from a foreign ATM. The bank must know you are going abroad for your protection; they will block your credit card to any charge that seems out of the ordinary.

Visa and MasterCard

Both cards are widely accepted at shops throughout Latin America. You may also draw cash at participating banks; be aware, however, that interest accrues from the first day. Check with your issuing bank for further information.

Criteria for Acceptance and Application Requirements

For the El Salvador Program, students must have (and maintain) a minimum of 3.0 CQPA. They should apply to Loyola’s Office of International Programs by December 3 (first Wednesday after Thanksgiving of their sophomore year, in order to be considered for fall or spring semester spots in their junior year. Disciplinary records from Loyola’s Office of Student Life are taken into consideration when reviewing applications. Students should mark down second and third choices in the event that we cannot offer them a spot in the El Salvador Program. 

**Please keep in mind that study abroad information, dates, benefits, and fees are subject to change without notification. You are encouraged to contact the Office of International Programs directly for the most up-to-date information regarding any study abroad programs offered at Loyola.