The Xicotepec Project is a collaboration between the Rotary Club of Xicotepec and Rotary District 6000, which includes 64 Rotary Clubs located in roughly the southern half of Iowa.
The first communication between the project partners took place in late 2001, and the first visit to Xicotepec by Iowa Rotarians was in February 2002.
In March 2003, 49 Iowa Rotary members visited Xicotepec and worked with Xicotepec Rotarians and other community members to construct new classrooms at the Escuela Primaria Club Rotario los Tezontles, a primary school sponsored by the local Rotary Club. Since 2003, more than 770 project team members from Iowa and around the United States have visited Xicotepec to execute projects identified by the Xicotepec Rotary Club. Examples of past projects include construction and beautification within local schools, activities to prevent tooth decay and intestinal parasites, and more.
In 2007 the University of Iowa began offering an international, interdisciplinary service-learning course called “International Perspectives: Xicotepec.” Students in this class study Mexican culture, intercultural competency, effective teamwork and discipline-specific topics. This training prepares them for their visit to Xicotepec over spring break during which they participate in a community service project related to their area of study.
The Rotary-University partnership has been especially productive and beneficial for both partners; this joint effort is, as far as anyone can determine, a unique one.
Additionally, since the beginning, students from Interact and Rotaract clubs of Xicotepec and of District 6000 have participated, representing both their clubs and their schools.
The project, which has accumulated a wealth of experiences since it began in 2002, could serve as a model for other similar partnerships. The service-learning class has also evolved a great deal since it began in 2007 and is serving as a model for implementing an international service-learning class at another public Midwestern institution.