Students explore Latin America through GALA 2022 study abroad program

Global Adventures in the Liberal Arts takes students to different areas of the world each spring. Photo courtesy of


The 2022 Global Adventures in the Liberal Arts, GALA, program gives students the opportunity to travel to multiple destinations in Latin America to learn about the various cultures. The program, which will take place in spring semester from Jan. 16 to April 14, 2022, gives students the chance to complete at least 12 credit hours while exploring the traditions, history and indigenous communities of Latin America. 

Butler University’s GALA program is typically offered each spring for students. The location of the trip changes every year, with GALA 2014 being the last time participants travelled to Latin America. This year’s students and faculty will travel to Columbia, Ecuador and Peru, making stops in both the Amazon and Galapagos. 

GALA 2022 will be the first exclusively Social Justice and Diversity, SJD, orientated GALA, giving students the opportunity to further their knowledge and understanding of other cultures and communities. This focus can be seen as a reflection of Butler’s new Social Justice and Diversity requirement for all students who started in the fall of 2020 or after. 

According to Ageeth Sluis, history professor and faculty resident director for GALA, GALA will explore SJD by taking students to communities of underrepresented people, like the Palenque, which was one of the first free African communities in Latin America. 

Dena Mulligan, associate director for faculty-led programs for the Center for Global Education, said that the worldly exposure students will get from GALA is invaluable. 

“The fact that the students are able to meet with indigenous communities and cultures is something that is really important to studying abroad,” Mulligan said. “Not just travelling and seeing the touristy spots, but immersing yourself is a really important aspect to study abroad. Sometimes it’s hard to get that… but the fact that this program can offer that is really special.” 

Although some students have expressed concern about international travel and COVID-19, Sluis said that she is dedicated to making the trip as safe as possible. 

“If it turns out that this is not possible somehow, of course we are going to put the safety of everybody involved first,” Sluis said. “That said, we are in contact with people on the ground in these countries through our provider organization, so we are getting direct reports of what is possible and what is not possible… If we did not think this was completely safe, we would not take people.” 

Sluis, who was also the faculty resident director for GALA Caribbean in 2018, will teach Global and Historical Studies 204: Contact Zones: Latin America Beyond Fútbol, Narcos and Food throughout the trip. Three other Butler faculty members, history professor Antwain Hunter, Spanish professor Alex Quintanilla and English professor Robert Stapleton, will each fly out to teach a course for a few weeks at a time. In addition to GHS, the other classes being offered are Perspectives in the Creative Arts 201: Travel & Environmental Writing, History 205/Text & Ideas 204: Slavery and Freedom in the Colonial Caribbean and Social World/Text & Ideas Class: Language Contact in the Andes. 

The courses are focused around fulfilling Butler’s CORE requirements to make the program applicable for all Butler students. According to Sluis, if students have previously taken a course that will be taught during GALA, the credit will usually count in the discipline of the professor. 

Fully vaccinated students of any major are welcome to apply, but they must be at least a sophomore and have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher. There is no language requirement, but accepted students will have the chance to learn Spanish while abroad. The deadline to apply is Oct.11 and up to 20 students will be accepted. 

A senior social justice theory and practice major who wished to remain anonymous has already applied for GALA and hopes to be accepted. He lived abroad for two years in Costa Rica and Mexico and spoke highly of what he was able to learn from living outside of the U.S. He first heard about GALA through one of Sluis’ classes and said he knows the students who attend will be in good hands. 

“From knowing Dr. Sluis personally and working with her, she’s really invested in it, and she’s really excited about it,” he said. “I think that really just enhances everything else, because [the faculty] are so devoted to it. I feel like that will speak volumes of what the turnout will be for it.” 

Coming back from a year where travel was heavily limited, Sluis said she is excited to be back travelling with students. Sluis said she can’t wait for GALA and how much students are going to learn while in Latin America with her and the other faculty members. 

“I love taking students abroad,” Sluis said. “Studying some of these places and trying to convey the importance of these places, these people, their experiences, their culture, you try to do it as best as you can in the classroom, but there is no way you can ever get close to being able to take people in person…. There’s just no replacement for that… I’m insanely looking forward to it.” 

Students who are accepted will pay their regular Butler tuition, and are able to apply 100% of their institutional aid. In addition, there are three, $500 need based awards available to students who have financial need. Interested students can apply for GALA through the Center for Global Education’s website. The first step for any student interested in studying abroad is to attend an information session. The next session will be Oct. 11 at 6:00 p.m in Gallahue Hall 108. Students can also attend the Study Abroad Fair Oct. 5 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Reilly Room to learn more about GALA and other upcoming study abroad programs.


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