Official Blog of the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

LACIS Helps UW Students Travel With Generous Grants

By Eli Weiner (LACIS Social Media/Outreach Intern, BBA – Marketing, BA – LACIS ’15)

As a department that strives to expand the cultural knowledge and awareness of UW-Madison students, LACIS makes it a priority to help students travel internationally. So far this year, LACIS has given two Internship Grants to students for internships or volunteer programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, or the Iberian Peninsula. LACIS has further provided financial assistance to four students traveling to Cuba in the Spring via an International Business course offered by the Wisconsin School of Business.

riley sexton
Riley on UW’s Camp Randall football field

Riley Sexton, a senior, and Haley Olig, a fifth-year senior, are the well-deserved recipients of the Internship Grant. Riley is triple-majoring in LACIS, History and Economics. He has received his grant to volunteer with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH, translates to “Our Little Brothers”), and as he puts it, “NPH is an amazing organization that helps vulnerable children throughout Latin America establish a stable living and learning environment.” He will specifically work with NPH-Honduras in Rancho Santa Fe, Honduras to develop a financial literacy program for the children “graduating from 9th grade who are either going on into their vocation or on to secondary education.”

Riley’s plan is to write a preliminary research report focused on financial literacy programs already available in Central America. He will then conduct a series of interviews with various NPH-Honduras members, and finally, he will use his findings to create the financial literacy program for the students. He’s not stopping there, though. He hopes that his efforts to create the financial literacy program can lay the foundation for similar, more effective programs to be created throughout Central and South America in the future.

This is Haley!
Haley Olig

Haley is majoring in LACIS, Spanish, and International Studies, and has recently obtained an internship with the Colombia Support Network’s Dane County Chapter (CSN). According to Haley, “The Colombia Support Network is a non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin, that aims to educate U.S. citizens and members of government, while assisting and supporting peaceful campesino movements in Colombia.” Haley will be traveling to San José, Colombia, a sister city of Madison that has endured many hardships via humanitarian crimes committed by the Colombian government and paramilitary forces.

Haley will use the grant to join the 2016 CSN Delegation that will visit the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, which was nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Haley will meet with the Bogotá office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights to discuss continuing human rights abuses, and will then do research on the reactions of individuals to these abuses. She further explains that she “plans to research the violations of their (San José community members) most basic human rights and how the individual reactions align with the community’s reaction to the human rights abuses it (the community) suffers as a whole.” 

Furthermore, students Kimberly McCormick, Julia Raupp (LACIS), Katherine Voelkers, and Jennifer Wagman have all received financial aid from LACIS to participate in the International Business/Management and Human Resources course offering titled, “Cuba Seminar and Field Study.” This is a three-credit class taught by Professor Randy Dunham that will meet once a week during the Spring semester and is accompanied by an 11-day trip to Cuba. The trip includes many cultural and historical activities that will ensure a new cultural perspective for the students.

A Cuban street (courtesy of huffingtonpost.com)
A Cuban street (courtesy of The Huffington Post)

An addition to the class requirements, the students will be asked to present on their observations and experiences at one of LACIS’ weekly Lunchtime Lectures in the spring, probably in mid- to late-April. Please come to make them feel welcome and to learn about first-hand experience in Cuba! Stay tuned for more information on this.

For more information on the LACIS Internship Grants, click here. Additionally, click here to learn more about the trip to Cuba. We wish everyone the best of luck in their travels and volunteer opportunities! Everyone here at LACIS is confident the money is in good hands and that these students will be respectful and intelligent ambassadors for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the LACIS department.

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