Through the SIT: Chile Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment program, Whitman students can gain insight and exposure to healthcare policies, politics, and delivery methods within a Chilean context, with a special emphasis on indigenous peoples and traditional medicines practices.  Program excursions include visits to public health centers throughout Arica and surrounding valleys. Longer excursions include traveling to the rural area of Putre, the region from which the Aymara population of Chile originated, and Temuco, home to the indigenous Mapuche nation.  Students produce a final Independent Study Project.

“For my Independent Study Project, I studied how effective the intercultural healthcare system was in incorporating and integrating the traditional healers of the Aymara. I focused on a small town called Putre to see how their system was received by the community. It's a great immersion program and you learn a lot about how the healthcare system functions in Chile and how the laws affect the system.” - Brooke T. '18

Student Blog:

Brooke Terkovich | Spring 2017

Fields of study:

Spanish language and interdisciplinary studies related to Public Health in South America


Previous college-level coursework in public health, development studies, anthropology, community or social sciences, or other related fields.   Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 (Whitman requirement).

Language Prerequisite:

Four recent semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish.


16 credits per semester - Required Courses:
Public Health in Chile (3 credits)
Traditional Medicine and Community Health (3 credits)
Public Health Research Methods & Ethics (3 credits)
Spanish for the Health Sciences (3 credits)
Independent Study Project (4 credits) or Internship and Seminar (4 credits)

Credit Conversion:

1 SIT credit = 1 Whitman credit


Students choose between an ISP and an internship. The internship may be completed at a health facility; a social, community, or indigenous organization; a nonprofit institution; a university; or another institution.  Organizations are well known in the fields of health, indigenous affairs, community development, and Chilean politics.


Three different homestays: seven-week homestay in Arica, six-day homestay with an Aymara family in high altitude Putre, six-day homestay with a Mapuche family in the rural village of Makewa.   Other accommodations during the program may include hostels and hotels.


All meals for the entire program period are covered either by SIT directly, or through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay  It is customary for students to eat breakfast and lunch with their host family..

Semesters Offered:

Fall, Spring


late August – December, late February – June


Rolling Admission – students are encouraged to apply early.


SIT Study Abroad Scholarships

Program Link:

SIT: Chile Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment