The program is designed to provide students and participating faculty with a contextual learning environment. Participants study Spanish, explore Mexican culture and society through coursework, guest speakers and site visits, and dialog with members of the local community about topics of social, political, and economic justice. QUEST facilitators arrange the visits and speakers that focus on the experiences and the perspectives of the disadvantaged. QUEST facilitators also assist in setting up service learning placements for all participants and guiding the reflections on the experience.
Each summer's program is slightly different, depending upon the interests of the participants. The program can include a number of issues, such as the following:
Participating students and faculty are provided full room and board at the QUEST facility in Cuernavaca. Cuernavaca, also known as the City of Eternal Spring, is located an hour south of Mexico City. This city of approximately 1 million people offers a variety of cultural and educational opportunities. QUEST facilities are located in a quiet neighborhood and feature private bathrooms, meeting areas, lounge, and cable Internet access.
With the assistance of QUEST facilitators, students and faculty participate in a service learning placement related to their interests and reflect on their experiences. Possible placements include orphanages, non-governmental organizations, local social justice organizations, retirement homes, health care facilities, preschools, community development organizations, and relief organizations. Students receive 2 credits for the service learning component.
Students must have completed at least one semester of college level Spanish to be accepted. Students and faculty will study Spanish in small groups taught by experienced native-speaking instructors from the Instituto de Idioma y Cultura en Cuernavaca. Students are placed into a course based upon language ability. This coursework is worth 4 credits and completes the College's language requirement.
Two faculty from The College of St. Scholastica participate in the program and teach 10 credits of coursework related to Latin America, Mexico, or Third World issues. The subject matter of the courses will vary with the faculty who participate each year. Two of the credits are a survey course on Mexico that allow students to receive credit for participating in the QUEST program and reflecting on the experience. The entire program is designed to meet the following General Education outcomes: values-based decision making, social responsibility, effective communication, and living with diversity.