dollorPuentes 2014: Oaxaca Travel Study

Puentes 2014: Oaxaca Travel Study

Puentes 2014: Oaxaca Travel Study


Puentes — masculine noun, plural
Structures spanning and providing passage over bridges
connections or transitions between two adjacent elements or conditions

The Puentes 2014 journey builds bridges of communication and understanding between people in the U.S. and in Mexico, with a special focus on transnational communities who have ties in both countries.

Contact Dr. Peter Baird for more details on our upcoming program information sessions in spring 2014!



Open to a diverse group of professionals, employees, business owners, retirees and students, this program offers a unique travel study opportunity. To see if you’re a good fit for this program, contact Dr. Peter Baird at or 916 716-6221.


The program includes 14 days of language and cultural study in Oaxaca including family home-stay (single room, breakfast and dinner) from June 20-July 5, 2014.

  • Spanish language classes Monday – Friday (all levels)
  • Seminars with local experts on indigenous languages and cultures, health, education, art, social movements and migration
  • Participatory workshops on Oaxacan art, dance and cooking
  • Field trips to Monte Alban and Valley of Oaxaca
  • 3 units of academic credit from Sacramento State


Download the program application PDF here


The tentative program cost is $2,600. This includes registration and language instruction, family home-stay, academic credit, cultural classes and seminars. Airfare is not included. Students must arrange and pay for their own airline reservations.

Payment Schedule

April 1, 2014 Application plus $1,000 deposit, check payable to Sacramento State
May 1, 2014 Final payment of $1,600 due for a total of $2,600*
*tentative cost, subject to change


Cancellation up to April 15, 2014 All but $150 of amount received will be refunded
Cancellation April 16 – May 16, 2014 All but $500 of amount received will be refunded
Cancellation after May 16, 2014 No refund
(unless an approved replacement for the participant can be found)

All payment and paperwork should be submitted to:

Lori May
Travel Study Programs
College of Continuing Education
3000 State University Drive
Sacramento, CA 95819-6103


To learn more, contact Dr. Peter Baird at or 916-716-6221.

Our program faculty

Group Leader: Professor Emeritus Peter Baird, Ed.D.
Dr. Peter Baird

Prof. Baird has been a lifelong student of language, culture and social justice issues on both sides of the border. His work life included being a journalist on Mexico-U.S. issues with the North American Congress on Latin America and the United Farm Workers, a printer and press operator, a bilingual elementary school teacher, and he is currently a partially retired professor of Bilingual and Multicultural Education at Sacramento State.

For the last six years he has led groups of North Americans on trips to Mexico and Guatemala through travel study programs and the Bi-National Teacher Education Project (Bi-TEP). He loves to play guitar and sing with his students, and is the author of books and articles on Mexico-U.S. relations, bilingual education and the visual and performing arts. He has co-authored three articles and one book chapter with Dr. Ruiz on travel study and transnational Mexico-US issues. (See Publications list below)

Partial List of Related Publications

  • Baird, P. J. & McCaughan, E. (1979). Beyond the border: Mexico and the U.S. today. New York: North American Congress on Latin America.
  • Baird, P.J. & Ruiz, N.T. (2013). Fighting for a transnational third space in teacher education. In L. William-White, D. Muccular, G. Muccular, & A. Brown (eds.), Critical Consciousness in Curricular Research. Evidence from the Field. New York: Peter Lang Press, 183-205.
  • Ruiz, N.T. & Baird, P.J. (2013). Transnational teacher education: Towards theory and practice, National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) Journal of Research and Practice, 4, February 7, 2013.
Program and Curriculum Advisor: Professor Emeritus Nadeen Ruiz, Ph.D.
Dr. Nadeen Ruiz

has been director of the Serna Center at Sacramento State, is the former chair of the Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department, and has been the director of the Bi-National Teacher Education Project since 2005. She is the author of the OLE Curriculum Guide and numerous articles on literacy, special education, indigenous students and transnational teacher education.

Partial List of Related Publications

  • Baird, P.J. & Ruiz, N.T. (2013). Fighting for a transnational third space in teacher education. In L. William-White, D. Muccular, G. Muccular, & A. Brown (eds.), Critical Consciousness in Curricular Research. Evidence from the Field. New York: Peter Lang Press, 183-205.
  • Ruiz, N.T. (2013). It’s different with second language learners: Learning from 40 years of research. In (eds. C. Dudley-Marling & S. Michaels), High-expectation curricula: Helping all students succeed with powerful learning. New York: Teachers College Press, pp. 145- 161.
  • Ruiz, N.T. (2011). “Son menos mexicanos (They’re less Mexican)”: U.S. transnational students in Mexican schools. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, New Orleans 2011.
  • Ruiz, N.T. & Baird, P.J. (2013). Transnational teacher education: Towards theory and practice, National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) Journal of Research and Practice, 4, February 7, 2013.
  • Ruiz, N.T. & Barajas, M. (2012). Multiple perspectives on the school of Mexican indigenous students in the U.S.: Issues for future research. Bilingual Research Journal 35(2), 125-144.
  • Ruiz, N.T., Barajas, M., McGinty, I. & Romo, D. (in press). Weaving learning communities across borders: Mexican indigenous students and families in California. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.
  • Ruiz, N.T., Vargas, E. & Beltrán, A. (2002). Becoming a reader and writer in a bilingual special education classroom. Language Arts, 79(4), 297-309.


What is the weather like in Oaxaca in June and July?
Oaxaca is located in the mountains at 6,000 feet, with average temperatures in the mid-80s Fahrenheit. It may rain in the afternoons and is generally shirtsleeve comfortable.
What do my program fees pay for?
Your program fees pay for your classes, homestay, speakers, two guided field trips in Oaxaca, as well as your trip leader, travel insurance and 3 units of academic credit from Sacramento State.
What are the assignments for this travel study class?
Each participant will be required to attend an orientation, be involved in all language and seminar activities in Oaxaca, and write a 2-3 page reflection paper about what you learned and how you will apply it to your work and/or study in the U.S.
About the 3 semester units:
The 3 units are required because this is what permits Sacramento State to offer the trip. These units are from the university and will be useful for students, teachers and other professionals. See the syllabus for more details.
Do I need a passport and visa to travel to Mexico?
All U.S. citizens must have a valid and current U.S. passport to travel to Mexico. It takes several months to request a passport, so do this early in your planning. A visa prior to traveling is not needed, as you will be issued a tourist visa upon arrival in your port of entry. Citizens of other countries, including Mexico, must also have a valid and current passport to enter Mexico and return to the U.S.
What are “transnational communities” and how do they focus our travel study?
Our work in Mexico and Guatemala has taught us that there are many immigrants with ongoing ties to both their country of origin and their country of residence and work. In this sense, they are trans (beyond) national, and an international analysis helps us understand the causes for their migration, as well as their contributions and needs. This is especially helpful in understanding and supporting indigenous people from Oaxaca who immigrate to California and other parts of the U.S., and are among the lowest paid and most exploited members of our society.
What are the philosophy and language methods of the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca?
From the ICO webpage: “Spanish language classes are taught exclusively in Spanish by native speakers with university qualifications and extensive teaching experience.
Our methodology is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and our classes are developed within the communicative model, which focuses on the need to understand and use the fundamentals of the language on a daily basis. The Spanish language programs are undertaken in a vibrant and friendly atmosphere with the goal of broadening your skills and confidence through total immersion.” See the ICO Oaxaca website for more on their methodology.
How safe is Oaxaca?
Oaxaca is considered to be very safe and friendly to national and international visitors. Oaxaca is a UNESCO World Heritage site and depends upon the positive cultural tourism it promotes. There is a U.S. consulate in Oaxaca which will be notified of our visit, as we have done in the past. There are no U.S. Dept. of State travel warnings for the state of Oaxaca, but all participants are advised to read the broader information about others places in Mexico that are not considered safe at this time. See
What are the rules that everyone must agree to abide by during the trip?
We stay together in Oaxaca de Juarez and its surrounding countryside for the duration of the trip. All independent travel is encouraged before and after our trip.
All participants will be housed with families that have at least one other member of our group.
Females are strongly encouraged to have a buddy in the evenings for their own security.
Responsible alcohol consumption.
Absolutely no contact with illegal drugs or those who may use them; we cannot help you if you should take this risk.
Participants need to notify their trip leader if they are feeling sick for more than one day or are taking medications.
What if I get sick? What are the doctors, hospitals and pharmacies like?
Oaxaca has excellent doctors, hospitals and pharmacies. There is a Stanford trained English-speaking doctor close to ICO and a 24-hour clinic is also available when needed. The most common ailment is stomach cramps and diarrhea caused by changes in water and food. We have learned that it is best to see a doctor soon rather than mask the problem with over-the-counter products.
Can I go earlier or extend my trip once I am in Oaxaca?
Yes, we are glad to help you arrange an early arrival or to extend your stay at the ICO and/or your family homestay. These arrangements should be made both with your trip leader and with the ICO.
Can a spouse or friend accompany me on the trip?
Yes, this trip is open to everyone, including a spouse or friend who shares these interests. Your responsibilities for the course and activities remain the same.
Are there activities for children on this trip?
ICO has a Monday-Friday language and culture program for children, and homestays can be arranged. See the ICO website for more details and consult with Dr. Baird about this.
What is a family homestay like?
ICO has worked with dozens of families close to their campus who provide a home away from home for visitors like us. They are usually in comfortable houses with individual bedrooms, caring “madres” who prepare breakfast and the main meal (comida) for you each day, and talk with you about your experiences in Spanish. They are real families who you will love. Your travel leader will get personal information about your dietary and health needs and arrange the homestays with ICO.
What is the best way to get to Oaxaca from the U.S.?
Most people fly either through Mexico City to Oaxaca International Airport, or go directly from Houston. It is also possible to fly to Mexico City and take a first class bus from the airport to Oaxaca (via Puebla). We will share more information about travel in our orientation and later communications.
Since I arrive in Oaxaca on my own, or with a partner, how will I get from the airport or bus station to my family homestay?
Since we make arrangements ahead of time via ICO, your family in Oaxaca will pick you up at the airport. You will also have their phone number and address in case of an emergency. If you arrive by bus, you will take a taxi from the bus station close to the ICO campus. Before the trip your trip leader will collect all travel information to make this possible.
How do I get around in Oaxaca?
Our classes, seminars, most tourist attractions and homestays are all in the Historic Centro of Oaxaca, which is easy to walk through. Buses and taxis are also available.
What do I need to bring?
From the ICO website FAQs: “The homestay will provide the students with towels and sheets, however, the students should bring their own toiletries. Although gifts are not necessary, it is often a nice gesture to bring something small, as a token of gratitude, for the family.” Other basics are: passport, medicines, comfortable shoes, rain parka and conservative/comfortable clothing. We will discuss this more in the orientation.
How much extra money should I bring?
Most people eat out in the evening and want to have a little spending money for gifts and extra weekend excursions. We have found that about $20 to $25 per day is enough for most people, unless you are lured by all the wonderful arts and crafts from the region, including the Zapotec rugs from nearby Teotitlán del Valle.
How do I get pesos in Oaxaca?
It is advisable to bring about $100 U.S. cash for emergencies, but ATMs are found throughout Oaxaca and are easy to use. Each transaction incurs a service charge ($3 to $5 U.S. is typical), so it’s good to get a larger sum and keep most of it in your room. Credit cards can also be used in stores and restaurants, and certain ones do not have international charges (e.g. Capital One). Make sure you let your banks know when you are traveling.
When is the Guelaguetza?
The Guelaguetza, celebrating Oaxaca’s indigenous dances and cultures, is held during the third and fourth Mondays of July, but smaller versions are available through the year. If you want to take advantage of this, you are encouraged to stay on in Oaxaca after the Puentes program ends.

Review the ICO (Instituto Cultural Oaxaca) website for more information: