This program is organized by Duke faculty/staff in collaboration with DukeEngage.

Program Dates

May 26 - July 22

Service Focus

Empowering immigrant communities with a focus on social justice, policy, and program implementation.

Program themes:

  • Immigration/refugees
  • Human rights/civil liberties
  • Community development/outreach

Program Leaders

  • , Lecturing Fellow in Romance Studies (Spanish Language Program) teaches Spanish language courses and service-learning courses with a focus on immigration policy.
  • Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino Studies, studies whether and how migrants succeed in their attempts at migration and how states intervene in cases of mass migration, and teaches courses on methods in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
  • , Assistant Professor of the Practice in Romance Studies (Spanish Language Program) will be the on-site director for summer 2017. Joan teaches Spanish courses that focus on Latinx life in the US and works with Duke Service-Learning on the Community-Based Language Initiative.


During their two months in Miami, students will work with one of several nonprofit organizations that provide services to the multiethnic Miami-­Dade area, a county with a 46 percent foreign-­born population. The NGOs with which students work provide legal support and advocacy for immigrant youth and adults.

The Miami site was chosen because of its diverse immigrant communities. Now in its 4th year, the program is subtitled, “The Many Faces of Miami.” By this we refer to all of the following: Miami as a U.S. city nicknamed “the capital of Latin America;” Miami as one of the highest-percentage-­Spanish-­speaking cities in the U.S.; Miami as home to several distinct waves of Cuban-American immigrants; Miami as more recently becoming a global city, flavored more by Latin America as a whole and specifically by immigration from the Caribbean; Miami as socio-economically diverse; Miami as Duke alumni home and network; Miami as a place of interesting politics, arts, and culture as well as exciting international entrepreneurship and law. Throughout our program, we will together explore and reflect on these many faces.

Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Students will:

  • Broaden their perspectives on diversity issues
  • Improve interpersonal skills, which are increasingly viewed as important in achieving success in professional and personal spheres
  • Develop civic responsibility through active community involvement
  • Become comfortable working with cultures other than their own

Service Opportunities

Service opportunities focus on empowering immigrants and low-income residents of Miami. In the past, students have contributed at Catholic Legal Services representing low-income immigrants; Americans for Immigrant Justice protecting and promoting basic human rights of immigrants; and Legal Services of Greater Miami defending tenants’ housing rights. Depending upon the placement, students may work with families and adults in a variety of contexts including social services, housing, and legal representation.

After receiving details of all placement opportunities, students will submit a resume and a list of preferences for placements, which will be reviewed by the Program Directors and the community partners. Skype interviews with community partners may also be utilized to determine final placements. Students will be matched with organizations based on interest, skills, and previous experience. Students will work 35‐40 hours per week, typically from 9am-­5pm, indoors (office environment and/or in community buildings).

Program Requirements

Language: Second language proficiency is beneficial but not required. Preference will be given to students with intermediate or advanced Spanish, Haitian Creole and French. Depending on the placement, social media skills, experience with low-­income and/or immigrant communities, and previous civic engagement work are desirable.

Coursework: Preference will be given to students who have taken courses related to immigration, Latino/a Studies, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, languages, cultural competency, public policy, law, human rights, social justice, psychology and education.

Personal Qualities: We are looking for students with the following three competencies. 

  • Ability to work productively on a supervised team – responds to feedback and critique from co‐workers and supervisors with maturity and openness to improvement; listens actively and communicates courteously; responds with patience and perseverance to new or unanticipated situations and obstacles; accepts responsibility for actions; balances personal expectations of the DukeEngage volunteer experience with the realities of working on short-­term projects in cultural and workplace settings that are new to them.
  • Empathy, cultural sensitivity, and self-­awareness – effectively and respectfully communicates and interacts with people of different ages, races, religions, and cultures; demonstrates curiosity about the lives of others without judgment; possesses understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses; demonstrates awareness of how others may view them in a variety of cultural settings.
  • Problem solving and goal orientations – possesses strong analytical skills and an interest in producing deliverable end-­projects for a community partner organization. 

Program Details

Description of Community: Nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America,” Miami is a global city and leader in finance, commerce, culture, media, entertainment, arts, and international trade, but also faces the challenges of great socio-economic inequities. Miami is the second-­largest U.S. city with a Spanish­‐speaking majority, and the largest city with a Cuban‐American plurality. More recently, the majority of migrants have been arriving from Nicaragua, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Haiti.

Students will be immersed in Miami during their service work and will interact with a variety of ethnic groups, mainly individuals who are economically disadvantaged. To gain a better understanding of the Greater Miami area, students will explore different ethnic neighborhoods and meet with a variety of guest speakers, including authors, artists, Duke alumni and alumni contacts.

Housing and Meals: Students will live in dormitories on the University of Miami campus. Students will share double rooms with air conditioning and wi‐fi. The University of Miami is located in Coral Gables, a residential and business district located six miles south of downtown Miami. Students will be provided a stipend for meals.

If you do not eat certain types of food for cultural, religious or personal reasons, please contact the DukeEngage office, , to discuss whether or not your dietary needs can be reasonably accommodated at this program site.

Transportation: Students will utilize public transportation (MetroRail or MetroBus). An unlimited transit pass will be provided. Transport for group activities will be by van.

Communication: Students are expected to use their own cell phones. Internet access is available in the dorm rooms. A telephone for local calls may be available as well. Although not required, students are encouraged to bring a laptop, which may be useful at their worksite.

Opportunities for Reflection: Formal reflection sessions will take place once a week through conversations and activities coordinated primarily by the site coordinator. Students will also be required to reflect through private and public blog postings. Reflections will be based on experiences with the community partners, cultural enhancement activities and required readings.

Other Opportunities: Some cultural enrichment activities will take place on evenings and weekends, and reflection sessions will likely be held on Sunday evenings. Students will have some evening and weekend time for individual personal and social activities. Requests for private rooms will be considered on an individual basis. There are opportunities to interact with the local community and local Duke alumni, both with the group and individually.

More Information

Students will complete required readings as part of the preparation for the program. (Former readings have included selections from Miami: Mistress of the Americas by Jan Nijman, Miami Babylon by Gerald Posner, Havana USA by Maria Cristina Garcia, Cuba Confidential by Ann Louise Bardach, and How to Leave Hialeah by Jennine Capo Crucet.) An additional reading may be selected for summer reflection, book-club style. Students should contact the program directors for further information on readings and author visits.

Duke Library Guide for DukeEngage-Miami

Curricular Connections

Please “Course Requirements” above. In addition, the following courses may be applicable to your studies before and/or after participating in DukeEngage in Miami.

AAAS 343 Displacements: Migration & Human Trafficking

AAAS 545S: Race, Racism, and Democracy

CREOLE 100-200s Language

CULANTH 104D: Introduction to Human Rights

CULANTH 210 Global Culture

CULANTH 238S: Politics of Food: Land, Labor, Health, and Economics

DOCST 332S: Farmworkers in NC: Roots of Povery, Roots of Change

DOCST 335S: Who Cares and Why: Social Activism and its Motivations

ENG 350S Law & Literature: Race Matters

ENG 396S Language in Immigrant America

ETHICS 262: Global Migration and Ethics

FRENCH 100-300s Language

FRENCH 325S Issues in Global Displacement: Voix Francophones

HISTORY 329 Latin America since Independence

HISTORY 330 Intro to Contemporary Latin America

ICS 325: Culture and Politics in Latin America

LATAMER 246S: Human Rights in the Americas

LATAMER 349 Political Economy of Latin America

LINGUIST 205: The Law and Language

LSGS 101S Intro to Latino/a Studies

LSGS 254: Cultures and Politics of the America Borderlands

SPANISH 100-300s Language

SPANISH 306: Health, Culture, and the Latino Community

SPANISH 307S: Issues of Education and Immigration

SPANISH 308S: Latinx Voices in Duke, Durham, and Beyond

SPANISH 313: Bridging Cultures

SOCIOL 255: Immigration and Health

POLSCI 205D: Introduction to Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics

POLSCI 224: Inequality and Politics

POLSCI 273S: Citizenship and Civic Action: From the Nineteenth Century Township to the Global Village

POLSCI 303: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in Politics and Public Policy

POLSCI 312: Dictators and Democrats in Modern Latin America

POLSCI 349: Political Economy of Latin America

POLSCI 380S: Human  Rights Activism

PUBPOL 155D: Intro to Policy Analysis

PUBPOL 216S: The US Border

PUBPOL 230S: Human Rights Activism

PUBPOL 231: Human Rights Theory and Practice

Interested in exploring similarly-themed programs? Go here... 
    • sf ad - miami
  • 2016 blog ad


"Children in the wrong place at the wrong time" (Miami Herald Sun opinion piece) 

    • guiDE Logo