Santa Clara University

Casa de la Solidaridad

Summer Program

The Silvia Arriola Summer Program

The summer program focuses on health care and public health in El Salvador and provides students with a unique opportunity to integrate direct immersion with people living in poor communities (praxis sites) and academic study. This intensive program will focus on what the health problems are in El Salvador, why the country has these health issues, and how they are being handled from both a medical response to disease and public health programs, which try to reduce the frequency of disease before people need medical care.

Students participate in two academic courses: Health Care and Public Health in El Salvador and either Advanced or Conversational Spanish. These courses are designed to intentionally integrate students’ experience in their praxis site with the academic discipline.


About Silvia Arriola


The program is named after Silvia Maribel Arriola who was born to privileged Salvadorans in 1951. As a child, Silvia was sent to an exclusive Catholic girls school in San Salvador. Upon graduation, she joined a religious order and was trained as a nurse. Dismantling her identity as a middle-class professional, Sister Silvia took to the base communities of poor people throughout the region. Vowing to work fully and completely to this life, Sister Silvia lived in the slums with four other sisters. She ministered to the health and spiritual needs of homeless refugees during the day, and attended community meetings at night.

Sister Silvia served as Archbishop Romero’s person secretary from 1977 until his assassination in 1980, but continued to work at the community level. The rise of popular militant organizations in response to government repression caused tension in the church, and Sister Silvia began to spend more time working with young people in her community. She had a gift for identifying with young people, and was much beloved by them as a friend and companion.

As repression expanded, Sister Silvia was sent to El Amate for a year. A death threat from a paramilitary group forced her to move from village to village out of fear for the families with whom she stayed. In early January 1981, she was in Santa Ana when it was taken over by government solders. Bombs were dropped and tanks stormed the clinic. Tracked and pursued through the countryside by helicopters, Silvia and 91 other people ran for three days. On 17 January, they were surrounded by troops and killed. Their bodies were thrown into an open grave and burned.

Today Silvia is much revered by the Salvadoran people as a martyr and visionary. In a song written to commemorate her life and death, Silvia's spirit speaks to the people:

Don't seek me in my tomb, I am among the people. I go opening pathways Of a new history.


SCU Students: The study abroad application process for SCU students is a two-step process. First, SCU students must complete the SCU study abroad application by the deadline listed on our apply page ( SCU student nominees will then receive individual instructions about the CASA application process. Contact the SCU Study Abroad Office ( if you have any questions about this process.

Program Dates · 2016

Deadline Application- March 1st

Arrival- June 12th

Departure- July 10th


Tuition - $3929

Program Fees - $1200

*Total Cost- $5,129

The program cost covers tuition, housing in a shared room at the Casa, meals during the week, and also includes many excursions and field trips or cultural activities. This does NOT include travel to El Salvador, books, and other incidentals such as weekend meals, supplies or personal expenses.

*Program costs may be altered by SCU’s Board of Trustees. To confirm program costs, please visit []

Additional Expenses

Tourist Visa (upon entering El Salvador) - $10

Weekend Meals: $50

Books & Supplies: $100

Personal Expenses: $60

Airfare: $800

Living Expenses: $60

Course Offerings

Students will earn 10 units for Spanish and Public Health

Spanish 21H - Spanish for the Health Professions (Intermediate) - 5 units

Spanish 102H - Spanish for the Health Professions (Advanced) 5 units

PHSC 170 - Health Care and Public Health in El Salvador- 5 units