Foreign Service Trip
The Foreign Service Trip is open to all students who took the Foreign Service class (HUST 4500). The usual location for the Foreign Service Trip is Nicaragua, a country that has experienced war, natural disasters and extreme poverty throughout its recent history. During the trip the group meets a wide range of actors that are involved with the responses to these three overlapping phenomena: former guerrillas and contra fighters; academics and former politicians; members of the Nicaraguan Government's Civil Defence Force (a similar agency to the United States' FEMA); NGOs staff; feminist coffee farmers; and populations affected by natural and man made disasters.
All of these actors are involved in someway in the world of "foreign service:" the attempts to relieve the suffering of, or improve the lives of, distant strangers. The complex historical relationship with the United States, combined with the country's on-going poverty and vulnerability, give students the opportunity to have fascinating, informative and, frequently, moving discussions and experiences. They meet organizations that have historically done heroic and valuable work but, just as importantly, students engage with groups that are struggling to define their mission or who have ended up doing more harm than good. The purpose of the trip is to reveal how important experiential knowledge is - what students can learn from a trip that they cannot learn in a library - and to examine the extreme complexity of attempting to alter the lives of others.
The trip is not compulsory for the Major or the Minor. It is important to note that, despite the name, this is not a service learning trip. Students frequently express concern about safety and cost. Traveling in Nicaragua is currently safe and IIHA works with the Centre for Global Education to ensure the safety and comfort of the group. The price of the trip can vary between students and between trips depending on eligibility for travel grants and the number of participants. For more information, please email the IIHA Graduate Assistant.