Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience : Office of Student Life

Fall Break in El Salvador

October 11-15, 2017

Trip Overview

This service-learning trip will allow students to experience the lifecycle and sourcing of coffee from farm to cup. They will work directly with local coffee farmers to learn how coffee is grown, harvested, processed, procured and shipped.  The group will participate in the evaluation of coffee to be purchased and served on the OSU campus.  Students will experience firsthand the economic impact of coffee growing in the community of La Palma,

El Salvador while learning the economic realities of the entire supply chain.  Issues of smallholder subsistence farmers and current approaches to poverty alleviation, community transformation, impact measurement, traceability and environmental impact mitigation will be addressed throughout the visit.  An equally important consideration is the consumer’s ability to cast an economic vote via responsible purchasing; this too will be a theme of the trip.

This program provides students with a meaningful and impactful way to experience the 1st step of coffee’s journey as it makes its way towards the university’s Dining Service coffee shops. It is designed to engage students with strong interest in International Studies, Spanish, Economic Empowerment, Community Transformation, and Traceability.  Undergraduates get to step into the boots of a small-scale coffee farmer from the hills of La Palma, El Salvador, while also encompassing their new role as a knowledgeable field technician- as they learn about coffee processing and ways to improve it for both the farmer and their fellow Buckeyes back home. Participants will spend their service trip building an African-style raised coffee drying system with materials purchased in the town. Through doing this, they will slow down and ventilate the drying process and improve the consistency and uniformity of the raw coffee, that can then be bought at a higher price from the producer, while being a higher quality finished coffee to be served back home a few months later.

Total Trip Cost: $900

Participant Expectations: 

While no previous experience with Buck-I-SERV is necessary to serve as a participant, we ask that the following expectations are met in order to ensure a high quality experience for all those involved before and during the trip.

  • Attend Orientation & Expectation Meetings (September) and Pre-Departure Meetings (October). 
  • Participate in all service and reflection experiences during the trip, while remaining open minded throughout all experiences and accommodations.
  • Be a positive representative of The Ohio State University community and Buck-I-SERV before, during and after the trip experience.
  • Adhere to all policies, procedures and deadlines related to financial obligations for the trip.
  • All students must understand that they will be asked not to use any substance during this trip.
  • All students will be responsible for purchasing supplemental health insurance and providing documentation prior to October departure.  This will need to be purchased September 2017
  • All students will be responsible for obtaining necessary inoculations in September 2017
  • Continued involvement for the purpose of mentoring future student groups

Selection Criteria: Following criteria will be used when selecting the candidates for this trip. Total of 6 students will be selected.

Required Qualifications:

  • Student must agree not to consume any alcoholic beverage or other substance during the trip.
  • Student must have a valid passport at the time of interview.  

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Ability to speak and write in Spanish.
  • Completed 1 year of college.
  • Interest in coffee, its production and/or the social impact of coffee production

  Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a direct trade model of trade and explore the cost/benefit of such a model on the entire supply chain.
  • Participants will have the opportunity to identify the social and economic restraints on a community lacking health care access.
  • Participants will have an opportunity to identify and reflect on the educational access opportunities available in other parts of the world and draw a correlation to Western educational opportunities and its impact on poverty alleviation in our own society.
  • Participants will have an opportunity to engage in community service and explore the importance of service within their experience.
  • Participants will have the opportunity to explore the limitations of economic sustainability in service based programs.  This opportunity leads to the identification of a “hand up” service model as opposed to a traditional “hand out”.   We would encourage the student group to create a mission statement for the next student group to offer direction toward their participation in a program that makes progress toward sustainability


Application Timeline:

Application available: July 21

Application due: August 20

In-Person Interviews: August 23-25

Notified of Acceptance: August 28

Travel Dates: Oct. 11-15