Social Work Abroad Program (SWAP) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to providing international learning opportunities for US-based social work students.

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​​​​​​​​SWAP Costa Rica 2015

Week One: Program planning and development (Video credit Johnny M.)

Project Summary

During the summer of 2015, nine MSW students and one recent MSW graduate from California State University Los Angeles and California State University Long Beach participated in SWAP's Costa Rica program. Each participant resided with a local host family.

Pre-departure Orientations

Participants attended three mandatory pre-departure orientations in preparation for their six-week internship experience in Costa Rica. The orientations took place on April 25, May 16, and June 20, 2015 and covered the following topics: SWAP background, team building, fundraising ideas, risk and safety, engaging with hosts, Tico culture, developing academic goals, research projects, intercultural values and dimensions, coping strategies, and logistics. Attendees had the opportunity to engage with participants from SWAP Costa Rica's 2014 Program as well as learn from guest speakers who had previously lived in Costa Rica and spoke on Tico culture and daily life.

Internship Placement Site

SWAP Costa Rica 2015 participants were placed at school internship sites. Intern responsibilities included designing and executing supplemental programs for two schools in the Heredia neighborhood of Guarari. Interns presented their program designs to La UNA - Universidad Nacional Costa Rica.


Participants enjoyed an orientation period through their initial week in Costa Rica which included a welcome breakfast with host families and a meeting with officials of La UNA - Universidad Nacional Costa Rica. Interns partook in evening seminars with SWAP's US-based social work team who facilitated meetings designed to deepen the group's learning and understanding of their experiences abroad. This team additionally provided logistical support as needed and conducted site visits at intern placements.

Accommodations and Meals

All participants resided with a host family in Heredia to learn about local norms and culture. Six pre-screened host families supported SWAP's program in 2015 and one to two participants were assigned to each home. Participants partook in both welcome and farewell celebrations with their host families.