Learning to Serve Spring Break Program in Petatlán, México

Posted on October 17th, 2012 by

Gusties on the beach near Petatlán

Petatlán, México – March 30 – April 7, 2013

The Learning To Serve Spring Break Program in Petatlán has been an amazing experience for many Gustavus students. This time, let it be you! On the program, you will work with the local community, stay as the guest of a Mexican family, and practice Spanish (no matter your level!)

Learning To Serve is open to ALL students!  Spanish is helpful, but not
required.  Past student participants with little or no Spanish have
flourished in the program, returning home with very transformative
experiences! All are welcome.

For more info: Email Jeffrey Rathleff (jrathlef) or call him at 933-6011 in the Center for Servant Leadership. Or just keep reading!

The Mission:
The mission of the Learning To Serve program is to foster mutual understanding, friendship, and solidarity through people-to-people contact for the purpose of building intercultural competence, empathy, and peace between global communities.

What you will experience in Petatlán:
• SERVICE-LEARNING projects that bridge our local and global communities
• Cultural Immersion through a week-long HOMESTAY family experience;
•Opportunity to practice and apply your SPANISH-speaking skills;

The 2013 program will encompass three (3) service-learning projects:

1.  The execution of a health clinic /health promotion campaign in
2.  Language/Culture Buddies exchange with university students from the
Technological University Costa Grande in Petatlán.
3. A Sister City service project building community between St. Peter
and Petatlán.

Additional Program Highlights:
•Participate in HOLY WEEK festivities in Petatlan, including the local fair;
•Visit XIHUACAN – Petatlán’s famous pre-Hispanic archeological ruins;
•Help throw a farewell FIESTA (with dancing, music, and delicious food) for homestay families and local partners;
•Learn about SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION on Petatlán’s pristine Playa Valentín.
•Stay in beautiful beach BUNGALOWS on Playa Valentin!
•Share your experiences in Petatlan with the Gustavus and St. Peter communities!


Petatlán from the Church’s tower

To RESERVE your spot, submit a deposit of $250 along with a copy of your passport to the Center for Servant Leadership. Students will be accepted on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE basis until the program is filled.

Total Program Cost: US$1375 – $1475. (estimate is approximate due to potential fluctuations in fuel costs – i.e. airfare, ground transportation, etc) Final cost will be determined by February 2013).

Saving sea turtles on Playa Valentín


There is still space available for interested students to participate in the
2013 program!  To reserve a spot on the program, please bring a deposit of
$250 and a copy of your passport to Jeffrey Rathlef in the Center for
Servant Leadership.  Deposits will be accepted up to Friday, Oct. 26th by
5:00 PM, or until the program is  filled – whichever comes first.   We will
purchase airfare the beginning of November.


Students may fundraise for their trip by working shifts in the Marketplace.
Interested students should inform Candy Witte in Dining Services
cwitte@gustavus.edu, of their interest in fundraising for Learning To Serve.
Candy will place them on an alias that sends students open shifts each week,
and students may select and choose available shifts as they arise.  Monthly
earnings will be deposited directly and tracked/deducted from the overall
program cost for each student.

*Past student participants have found this VERY helpful in either
offsetting the cost, or covering it entirely!

Program Staff:

Program Director – Jeffrey Rathlef, Director for Community-Based Service and Learning, and Associate Director of the Gustavus Center for Servant Leadership. jrathlef@gustavus.edu, 933-6011
Language and Culture Project director – Dr. Angelique Dwyer, Assistant Professor , Gustavus Adolphus College Department of Modern Languages (Spanish) and LALACS adwyer@gustavus.edu, 933-7419.
Nursing/Public Health Project Director – Dr. Barbara Zust, Professor, Gustavus Adolphus College Department of Nursing, bzust@gustavus.edu, 933-6097.
Program Coordinator – GAC Student Intern – spring 2013 semester.

Near the beach bungalows on Playa Valentín



  1. Jeffrey Rathlef says:


    We just got this You Tube video of our beloved Petatlán partner – Claudia Islas, performing locally! Claudia visited Gustavus last year and sang here t the 2012 International Festival in Alumni Hall! You may remember her gorgeous “corn husk” dress! The 2013 Learning To Serve group will not be able to escape singing wonderful Mexican classics on “karaoke” with Claudia in Petatlán! It’s just inevitable – and fun!
    Check her out at:

    Claudia coordinates our homestays for the program!

  2. Jeffrey Rathlef says:

    ONLY six (6) spaces left for Learning To Serve – Petatlán, Mexico!! Ensure your spot soon if you want to partke in this fantastic spring break program!