Frequently asked questions

Solidarity Experiences Abroad Program is a social justice program organized by the Faith and Life Centre which provides short-term international experiential learning in social justice, cultural exposure, community development projects and potential exploration of spirituality through projects and hands-on solidarity. At SEA the goal is to connect a participant’s career and personal goals with social justice, aiming to provide participants with the opportunity to experience hands-on solidarity at a new level. Not only are participants placed outside of their comfort zones, helping and working in sustainable projects in developing countries, but participants also get the opportunity to explore the culture and history of the host country.

On the trips, participants also have the opportunity to connect and interact with local university students, professionals and residents. The SEA program is meant to encourage participants to explore and develop critical thinking. The trips gives participants the opportunity to incorporate the valuable skills learned at Brock University on these trips, which many times leads into their daily lives in Canada and future careers.

The cost of the trip differs according to the program length. The two week programs to Peru or Ecuador cost from $2,596 to $3,596; the program to Brazil costs $3,926; and the four week program to South America costs $4,900.

The cost for the Reading Week programs are typically cheaper because of destinations, timing and length, however the exact price is yet to be determined based on airfare etc. These prices are subject to change. Prices are all inclusive, covering airfare, accommodation, meals, transportation, and travel insurance. Students should bring extra money for incidental expenses and local airport taxes.

In the past, students have found many ways of raising money to go towards the cost of their trip. Some students have written letters and sought financial aid from their own community: groups, clubs, or churches. Students appeal to their family members, and hold their own fundraising events. If needed, letter templates for donation letters and PowerPoint presentations can be provided to help students with their fundraising efforts.

All cheques should be made payable to “Solidarity Experiences Abroad”.

Solidarity Experiences Abroad is open to all Brock students from any year, major or background. Some Brock University faculty and staff members have accompanied the SEA programs, continuously are still more than welcome to join. If you are not a Brock student, faculty or staff members please contact sea@brocku.ca to discuss opportunities to still travel with SEA.

The trips usually allow between 20 and 35 students to register (depending on the program). Registration is based on a process of selection, determined by an essay and an interview with SEA Staff.

Vaccinations are not required in order to participate in the SEA Program. However, it is mandatory that students make an appointment with their doctors or a travel clinic to discuss recommended vaccinations for their destination. Ultimately students should make a decision with their doctor to determine whether it is necessary or convenient for them to receive certain vaccinations.

If a student has a health condition, they should determine with their doctors if it is safe for them to travel and participate in the SEA Program. Students should ensure that they are able to fully participate in this program due to its intense physical, emotional and psychological demands. It is important to find out whether travel insurance will provide coverage for your condition in the case of an emergency/relapse of a pre-existing condition. For more information on your travel insurance contact your insurance provider. In the case of a medical emergency while overseas, an emergency protocol is in place to provide health coverage in-country and transportation back home if deemed necessary. If you do not have travel insurance, reach out to sea@brocku.ca for options.

In the event of cancellation, you will not be reimbursed the $500 registration deposit and there may be additional penalties which may not allow you to be reimbursed for the full cost of the trip. Travel insurance is not included in the price of the program. Travel insurance is encouraged to cover for any emergency cancellations due to illness, injury, death, or death of a family member. Cancellation due to the reoccurrence of a personal, pre-existing medical condition may not be accepted. Please review our Cancellation Policy by clicking here.

Yes, all students travelling out of country need a valid passport. All passports must be signed with all emergency contact information filled out and be valid for at least 6 months from the date of your scheduled return.

Currently, the only country that the SEA participants visit, which requires a visa for Canadian citizens is Brazil. In order to apply for an entrance visa, students must have a valid passport. Typically visas are applied for as a group. Further information will be provided upon registration. Visa fees are not included in the price of the program.

Travelling to any destination, especially a developing country, poses some safety risks. However, the Solidarity Experiences Abroad program takes every possible safety precaution in order to ensure the safety of its participants. Students board in safe accommodations and are required to travel in groups at all times during the program. As long as students are aware of their surroundings and obey the guidelines set out by their SEA Program Leaders, they should not be exposed to unreasonable danger.

Students who have special dietary requirements (such as vegetarian, lactose intolerant, etc.) should indicate this while registering. All efforts will be made to accommodate the student while on the program. SEA Trips have had no problems organizing or accommodating these regular dietary restrictions.

Yes. All students are responsible for arranging their own transportation to the airport. However, occasionally students will arrange their own carpooling groups.

Although no religious affiliation is required for participation, this inclusive program provides spiritual exposure and the possibility of spiritual exploration and it expects students to display clear respect for the spiritual, religious believes and practices of other participants and of local cultures.

The packing list depends on the trip the student participates in. A general packing list can be found by clicking here (PDF).

Usually, each Solidarity Experiences Abroad participant is allowed two pieces of luggage each weighting 50 pounds that can be checked through. We encourage students to use one bag for their luggage and the other bag to be used to take donations down to the country they are visiting. Different airlines have specific requirements that will be discussed at the pre-departure meetings.

Many students who participate in the programs are not fluent in a second language. In countries where English is not the main language, students will attend language classes in-country in order to equip them with basic knowledge of that language.

Participants will be active in different volunteer placements during most of the day. Night activities are designed to increase the students’ knowledge of the country, its culture and build community. Activities include visiting museums, attending concerts or dancing classes, lectures, or visiting local shopping destinations and many more.

Language classes when necessary is provided in order to aid the process of communication with locals. Overnight excursions to local landmarks will also be provided, such as Macchu Picchu for Peru, Atlantic Coast for Brazil, and Quito for Ecuador, etc. The program is designed not only to help participants act in solidarity with the brother and sisters in need, but to also give them an understanding of the culture and history of the country they visit.

Typically, as a group, students visit the possible volunteer placements. Once they have visited the placements students organize into groups for the placements they are interested in. Students will have the opportunity to change their volunteer placements throughout the week if they so desire or remain at one placement for the duration of the trip. The size of the group for each placement depends on the requirements and needs of the specific placement.

Students work in various volunteer places defined with local people and local community leaders throughout the local community. Some of the placements available are in shanty towns, rural areas, hospitals, health campaigns, schools, daycares, elders’ homes, maternity clinics, physiotherapy clinics, construction and renovation projects, environmental projects, and soup kitchens. Placements vary with each country. It is our desire to place students in locations that are related to their future career goals, so students are free to request placements in which their interest lies.

Students will be working with local organizations, learning and providing assistance and aid according to priorities established with the people and local community leaders. Tasks will differ as the places and needs vary. Some possibilities are: running health campaigns, aiding in clinics, building schools, medical out-post and community centres, feeding the homeless, empowering women projects, etc. As well, students provide the local organizations with much needed donations.

Every participant is allowed two suitcases at 50lbs each. It is asked that one suitcase be filled with personal items while the second be used for donations. Donation letter templates are available for your use when requesting donations from organizations and businesses. Powerpoint presentations can also be made available for those who are interested in doing presentations to larger groups.

You and your donors can decide whether monetary donations will go towards paying for your trip or to the organization to help fund on-site projects. Some common areas to ask for donations are from churches, religious organizations, dentists, doctors or other organizations. Please try and fill your bags with, medical supplies, school supplies, baby supplies, etc. before adding adult clothing donations. Much of the work SEA does is with children. For a list of donation ideas, click here (PDF).

Weather conditions vary from country to country as well as the time of year. Students should check the forecast for the country they are traveling to in order to get a better idea of what the climate will be like while they are visiting the country. More information will be provided for each country at the pre-departure orientation sessions.

While participating in the Solidarity Experiences Abroad programs, students stay in retreat houses or universities. These retreat houses provide safe and comfortable accommodations, as well as meals for the students. Students may stay in double or triple occupancy rooms. Specific addresses of retreat houses will be provided to students during the pre-departure orientation sessions.

The Pre-Departure Orientation is mandatory and happens once. Pre-departure sessions and meetings are sessions organized a few months prior to the students’ departure. The meetings are designed to prepare students before they leave on their trip.

The Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) will provide valuable information regarding international and political differences as well as how to adapt to cultural changes. Booklets on the country of destination will be given to each student to help them learn about the country before they go. Mandatory attendance is required. If students do not attend the PDO their attendance on the trips may be reconsidered. Several different times will be offered for each session.

If you would like to apply for the position of SEA program Trip Leader assistant, please visit the available link. Read over all of the information provided, including the requirements of a leader assistant. Download the trip-leader application form, complete with the essay, and return it to the Program Assistants in the Campus Ministries Office before the application deadline.

Following each SEA program, an evaluation form will be made available for participants to voice their opinions about their experience. All constructive feedback, including comments and suggestions, will be kept confidential.

If you wish to make further comments, all information should be sent directly to Raoul Masseur at the Faith and Life Centre. Raoul Masseur can be reached by e-mailing rmasseur@brocku.ca or by calling 905 688 5550  x4764.

If you have more questions, contact the Assistant Program Coordinators. They can be reached at sea@brocku.ca. If further assistance is required, please contact Raoul Masseur at rmasseur@brocku.ca.

Solidarity Experiences Abroad is located in DeCew Residence, office number 217 between stairwell 10 and 11.