Higher education institutions in the United States have increasingly become aware of their civic duty to prepare responsibly engaged citizens. At the School for International Training the mission is “to prepare students to be interculturally effective leaders, professionals, and citizens. In so doing, SIT fosters a worldwide network of individuals and organizations committed to responsible engagement in a changing world” (SIT Study Abroad website, 2005). This research endeavor assesses how participation on a semester of the SIT Brazil: Culture, Development and Social Justice program affects the civic lives of its alumni.

The SIT program central to this inquiry, located in Fortaleza, Brazil, has been designed to enable students to see the link between their own lives and what they are seeing in Brazil and to realize what can be done at home to work in solidarity. Freire believes that for the non-poor to truly learn from and be transformed by an experience, they must act upon that experience.

This qualitative inquiry has been designed to measure the activities of these former participants in relation to their SIT - Brazil experience. Data was gathered by means of a survey sent to participants of the 1999-2002 semesters. Questions were formed to assess how participants’ engagement has been affected by their study abroad experience. This assessment serves to discover whether or not former participants are actively pursuing social justice in their lives today and whether or not they are engaged participants “in a permanent process of human formation and transformation” (Calhoun, 2002).


International and Comparative Education | Politics and Social Change