Educator Intercambio: Teaching, Social Justice, and Teachers as Activists

July 1 - 8, 2023
Chiapas, Mexico

The application deadline has passed. To learn about future programs for educators, join the CLAS For Educators mailing list.

Intercambio is the exchange of struggles, dreams, and ideas across geographies that might inspire us to think about our interconnectedness and the possibility of a different world.

Join Stanford’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET) and San José State University’s Lurie College of Education and travel as an intimate cohort of educators to build and exchange with education social movements in Chiapas, Mexico. 

This unique program employs the framework of intercambio to bring together educators from the U.S. with educators from various education projects and movements in Chiapas.

Participants will share their own community’s struggles and their experiences as educators committed to social justice while learning about struggles of educators in Chiapas: the histories of their movements, their organizing methodologies and principles, and how social justice teaching looks in their contexts. More specifically, participants can expect to (1) exchange pedagogical practices across school sites and education projects rooted in social justice, (2) develop content and curriculum inspired by their experiences in Chiapas and that can be applied to their own classroom and context, and (3) interchange experiences and strategies as educator-activists in and beyond the classroom/school setting.

In preparation for intercambio, U.S.-based participants will participate in two virtual workshops led by program lead Davíd Morales and CSET Social Justice Implementation Director Tawheedah Abdullah to engage in dialogue around teaching, education, and social justice and to prepare for intercambio by becoming acquainted with the participating education projects and social movements in Chiapas. In the months following intercambio, participants will join Tawheedah and Davíd in a workshop in which they will reflect on their experiences and translate their learnings for their own specific context. In addition, participants can expect to share their experiences and takeaways in a community report back event. 

Program Leads

Portrait of David Morales

Davíd Morales is a scholar, educator, and community activist interested in education as a tool for social change. He is currently a doctoral student and researcher in the Race, Inequality, and Language in Education program at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Over the last seven years, Davíd has taught language, culture, and critical thinking in public schools in San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco, and abroad as a Fulbright scholar. He has participated in educational and community activism through his membership in organizations like Project YANO (Youth and Non-military Opportunities) and Colectivo Zapatista. Davíd is specifically interested in urban Zapatismo, critical pedagogy, movement building across colonial-imperial borders, and in supporting working class communities of color. 

Tawheedah Abdullah smiling at the camera

Dr. Tawheedah Abdullah has ten years of experience in public and charter school settings, serving in several capacities— ELA instructor, department chair, instructional coach, equity training facilitator, and assistant principal. An alumna of CSET’s Hollyhock fellowship program, Dr. Abdullah leverages her professional experiences, research interests, and passion for social justice and educational equity through her work. Her role includes identifying opportunities for collaboration in professional learning and research, translating research into practice, and assisting with long-range envisioning and planning for CSET. Dr. Abdullah holds a BS in Jazz Studies from Florida A&M University, an MA in Urban Pedagogy from the University of Michigan, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from Florida State University.

Headshot of Elizabeth Saez-Ackermann.

Elizabeth Sáenz-Ackermann is originally from Ciudad Juárez, México, where she attended the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. She lived in the San Diego-Tijuana region for 15 years and received an M.A. in Latin American Studies from San Diego State University. Her research interest is on grassroots resistance movements in Latin America, particularly indigenous resistance and struggles.

Elizabeth is adherent of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. She has accompanied the Zapatista movement since 1997 and attended several encuentros, including CompArtes, and ConCiencias, and the Escuelita Zapatista. She is Associate Director at Stanford's Center for Latin American Studies.

Image of Marcos Pizarro looking at the camera, sitting in front of a window

Marcos Pizarro is Associate Dean of the College of Education and Professor of Chicanx Studies at San José State University.  Marcos’ work in the College of Education includes facilitating an anti-racist, anti-ableist, abolitionist Inquiry to Action Group and co-creating and co-coordinating the Ethnic Studies Residency Program that prepares future Ethnic Studies teachers.  His research and community work has focused on supporting Chicanx and Latinx students and teachers to develop strategies for thriving in school and building social and racial justice in their communities. He co-coordinates the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice, a project that provides training and support for teachers and teacher educators invested in transformative practices for racial justice.

Portrait of Luis Villanueva

Luis Villanueva is a life-long educator with over 35 years of experience in the classroom. He has taught at all levels, but formally retired as a high school Spanish teacher in Inglewood, CA. In his role as a classroom teacher, he has taught in Mexico, Arizona, and California and in different types of settings including rural, private, charter, and public schools. He has also served as a teacher educator and has led pedagogy trainings and professional development programs for secondary-level teachers. Since his formal retirement, he has committed himself to mentoring younger teachers and to closely following and participating in solidarity efforts for education social justice movements throughout Mexico, especially that of the normales rurales (rural teacher-training colleges) and the parents of the 43 forcibly-disappeared students from the Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos– Ayotzinapa. Luis is a graduate of the rural teacher-training college system in Mexico and, throughout his career, has worked to bridge classroom practices and education with a broader community struggle for justice.

Program Details


July 1-8, 2023

Participants arrange travel to and from Chiapas on June 30 and July 9. Hotel lodging is provided June 30 and July 8.


Chiapas, Mexico


This program is designed for pre-service and in-service K-12 educators from across academic disciplines. Community college educators and educators from non-traditional education spaces are welcome to apply. The program is intended for individuals who are committed to social justice education, who are part of social justice projects or activist spaces, or who have an interest in learning about how to incorporate this approach in their practice and context. Individuals from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and similarly historically marginalized communities and identities are strongly encouraged to apply. 

Continuing Education Units

4 quarter units (40 hours of instruction) through Stanford Continuing Studies

Language Requirements

There are no language requirements. Participants can expect interpreters to translate from Tzotzil, Tzeltal, or other Indigenous languages to Spanish and English during the exchanges and vice-versa to ensure the conversation is accessible to all.

Living Conditions

Participants will be staying in rural communities with rustic housing and will need to bring their own sleeping bag and mattress pad. Waterproof boots and rain gear are highly recommended in the cool, rainy mountain environment.

Cell reception is very limited in the communities and internet access even more so. U.S. cell phones equipped with a Mexico plan will sometimes be able to make calls.

Registration fee: $1000*

The registration fee covers lodging, basic meals throughout the trip, materials, ground transportation for program activities, and programming costs while in Mexico. Registration fees do not include participant travel to and from the designated hotel in Chiapas, Mexico, at the start and end of the program. This must be coordinated and paid by the participant. Registration fees do not include incidental costs such as passport fees, travel medical insurance, immunizations†, etc. We are committed to making this program as accessible as possible for participants with financial need. CLAS has limited funding available from the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant for participants with demonstrated financial need which can cover up to the cost of the program. Applicants wishing to apply for financial aid should complete the online form in the financial aid application link provided below. 

* Subsidized price as a result of U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center grant funding.
† Participants are responsible for ensuring they have the appropriate immunizations for the destination.

Application Process

Application Deadline

March 10, 2023. The application deadline has passed. To learn about future programs for educators, join the CLAS For Educators mailing list.

Online application

  • Applicant profile information
  • Resume (upload)
  • Short-Answer Questions:
    • Please share about your commitments to social justice. Provide information about your experiences as an organizer/activist and/or your political commitments. List any collectives or organizations that you are a part of.
    • Tell us about your philosophy as a social justice educator. What kind of work have you done to reflect on your values/mission as a teacher/educator? How have you centered liberation and/or critical consciousness and action in your classroom/practice?
    • How familiar are you with the Zapatista Movement and/or the Normales Rurales (Rural Teacher-Training Colleges) in Mexico? Please explain.
    • Why do you want to participate in intercambio? What do you expect to gain from this experience? How will it contribute to the work that you are doing? What can you contribute to the community of delegates?
    • How do you plan to share what you learn in this intercambio with peers in your school, district, community, and/or region?

Letter of reference

  • One letter of reference should be written by a person who can speak to the applicant's role as an educator, teaching practice, philosophy, commitment to social justice, or involvement in the community, such as an advisor, principal, chair, mentor, or supervisor.
  • The letter may address why the applicant is a good fit for the program, how the applicant might benefit from the experience, the applicant’s experience or ability to contribute and share knowledge with their education space and community, and the applicant’s ability to engage with other learners and contribute to group experiences.
  • Letters must include a signature. Please upload the letter at the link provided.

Financial Aid Application (optional)

CLAS has limited funding available from the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant for participants with demonstrated financial need which may cover up to the cost of the program. Applicants wishing to apply for financial aid application form requires the following information:

  • Statement of Financial Need (type or paste into form): Explain why you are requesting financial assistance. You may include information on special circumstances, extraordinary expenses, or additional information pertinent to why you are applying for financial assistance. (Maximum 1500 characters)
  • Budget (upload): Estimated total expenses and proposed costs to be covered by this award. The budget must indicate the amount of financial assistance being provided by applicant's school/district/institution or other sources, even if the amount is $0.

Applications will be reviewed by a review committee appointed by the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University. Applicants will be contacted in late March with a decision.

All qualified applicants will be considered in accordance with Stanford University's Nondiscrimination Policy.  

Supplemental Materials

Supplemental materials are due April 15, 2023, after being accepted to the institute, processed through the Center for Latin American Studies. Submitted electronically.

  • Copy of valid passport (with expiration date more than 6 months after the institute dates) or confirmation that passport application has been submitted  
  • Signed Stanford Materials Release Form
  • Signed Stanford International Travel Waiver
  • Proof of international insurance (insuremytrip, "Comprehensive" coverage required)
  • A non-refundable deposit of $300 (paid by credit card or check) 

Registration Fee balance of $700 is due May 15, 2023 (paid by credit card or check).

Deposit payments being made by check should be made out to Stanford University and mailed to

Center for Latin American Studies
c/o Molly Aufdermauer, Public Engagement Coordinator
582 Alvarado Row
Stanford, CA 94305-8545

Applicant is responsible for confirming receipt of all application materials.

Withdrawal/Cancellation Policies

Participant Withdrawal Policy

If, for any reason, an accepted participant chooses to withdraw from the program, the participant must notify the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) by email to clasoutreach [at] (clasoutreach[at]stanford[dot]edu). The program deposit is non-refundable. However, the participant may elect to use the cost of the deposit toward the fees of another CLAS teacher program or workshop within a year. Program fees, exclusive of deposit, are refundable if CLAS receives the participant's written notification prior to the withdrawal deadline of June 1, 2023. If the participant withdraws from the program after the withdrawal deadline, there are no refunds.

Program Cancellation Policy

If the program is canceled by CLAS for any reason, CLAS will be in touch with the participants directly regarding full refunds.

Program Contact

Molly Aufdermauer
Public Engagement Coordinator
Center for Latin American Studies
email: clasoutreach [at] (clasoutreach[at]stanford[dot]edu)
tel: 650-721-5530