Students who choose not to do a traditional SST will now be required to do the Latino Studies SST instead.

Faculty voted recently to eliminate the previous alternative to SST, which was to take SST alternate courses on campus. Now students will have just two options: they can either do a traditional SST in another country, or they can do the Latino Studies SST in Goshen. This change in requirements will apply to the incoming class of first-years in the fall of 2011.

The Latino Studies program, which ran for the first time this past summer, will also undergo revisions. Instead of fitting all 12 credits into a single semester like it was over the summer, the Latino Studies program will last a whole year, with students taking six credits in the fall and six in the spring. This will allow people with tight schedules to meet other class requirements on campus while simultaneously meeting their SST requirement.

By eliminating the option to take SST alternate courses, the college hopes to focus students' international studies on one particular culture. Like other SSTs, the Latino Studies program delves deeply into a single culture, enabling students to study the language, history and arts of the Latino population in Goshen in depth. It also has a service component that requires participants to volunteer in local Latino businesses, teach English or translate for people in the community, among other options.

Kellyn Yoder, a senior, participated in the Latino Studies SST's debut this past summer. “I learned a lot about what the community is doing to meet the needs of Latinos who have just come here,” said Yoder.

As part of the program, Yoder was assigned to a local Latino host family, with whom she spent two hours a week. She ate at their home and went to the grocery store, Mexican bakery, and church with them. Anayeli Lopez, director of the Latino Studies program, said that this relationship between the student and the Latino family ends up benefitting both of them. “The students are able to be part of the Latino community,” she explained, “and the families are able to learn more about the Goshen community from the students.”

The Latino Studies program is open to anyone, but it is a particularly good fit for students who, for one reason or another, would rather not go abroad for SST. It will be offered next in the spring of 2012 as a single-semester program, and then in the fall of 2012 and spring of 2013 as a year-long program.