Healthcare and Education in Rural Chile

Not Offered 2020-2021. See Remote Opportunities for 2021 here.

Program Overview

Students who participate in this innovative program will experience full linguistic, social, and cultural immersion by working alongside 150 Universidad Mayor (U. Mayor) students from various fields, including medicine, dentistry, veterinary, and education. The program includes an intensive orientation in Santiago, 10 days of public service in a rural setting in the south of Chile, and a closing session in the capital city. Program activities include: workshops on healthcare and prevention given to the community, house visits to patients with limited access to healthcare, teaching English classes to elementary school students, and physiotherapy sessions. Cultural and touristic excursions to surrounding areas, Pucón and Villarica, are also scheduled. Activities throughout the duration of the program will be entirely in Spanish.

Upon arrival, students will be greeted in Santiago by DRCLAS staff for an orientation to the city and Chilean culture. After spending the weekend in the capital city, students will travel to a small town with an indigenous presence and community, located in the IX Region, about 400 miles south of Santiago.

A goal of the program is to provide underserved rural and indigenous communities with health services. Students serve a rural community for several days, living and working with Chilean university students. During their time in the community, students will be fully integrated into U. Mayor's Trabajos Voluntarios (public service projects), and will have the opportunity to rotate specialties on a daily basis, according to their interests. Some of the areas in which students can volunteer include holistic medicine, dentistry, education, agriculture, veterinary care, and construction. After a full-day of community service, students will have the opportunity to spend their evenings participating in recreational activities with U. Mayor students that include sports games, team-building activities, talent shows, and cook-offs. 

Participants will leave with an understanding of how health providers work in a setting with limited resources, and become aware of health disparities within different sectors of society.

Program Dates

The January 2020 program has been cancelled due to security concerns.


The program is limited to 15 Harvard students with a minimum of an intermediate level of Spanish (at least two semesters of Spanish at Harvard or their equivalent). It is intended for Harvard College students with an interest in the field of health. This program is held in a rural setting, participants must have an open mind and willingness to adapt to change.

Application Requirements

  • A completed application form via Centralized Application for Research and Travel (CARAT). Please search for "2020 Healthcare & Education in Rural Chile" to locate the application.
  • Relevant personal statement (500-750 words in English or Spanish, detailing your interest in and goals for this program)
  • Updated resume
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Name & contact information of one Harvard Community Member who will serve as a reference (example: TF, advisor, professor, etc.)

In addition, students will be asked to sign-up for a Skype interview during the week of October 15, 2019. Interviews will be conducted in Spanish. Sign-up here after you have submitted your application. 

Program Costs & Availablity of Funding

Program Costs: $2,500
Accommodations, cultural excursions and some meals included. International airfare not included. 

Cancellation Fee: $250
A fee of $250 will be applied for participant cancellations after November 17, 2019. No exceptions will be made.

Post-Application Interview Process

Please sign-up here for your program interview. Please use your full name, as it appears on your application. Do not schedule more than one interview slot. 

Interviews for the Chile Program will be conducted over Skype with Pilo Mella, Student Programs Manager, Regional Office. Students are expected to interview in a quiet, appropriate location. Please add the Skype username pilo.mella in advance of your interview, and log-on 5 minutes prior to start time. Pilo will call you to initiate the interview. 


Contact Pilo Mella, Student Programs Manager, Regional Office