What Does the HSP Actually Do?
The Hispanic Summer Program mainly involves its 13-day summer graduate program in theology & religion! On a Saturday around mid-June, close to one hundred students, eight faculty, and a couple of administrators gather for the HSP.
Each student can take only one three-credit course. Thus, the earlier they apply, the easier they will be accepted in the course of their first choice.
Usually, half of our courses are taught in Spanish, while the other half is taught in English. Classes are small: 5-14 students per course – plus at times a few auditors. Classes meet 3 hours and 20 minutes daily for 10 days. Students have daily reading & writing assignments – and at times also assignments before and/or after the summer course itself. Students have access to the library of the institution where the program takes place.
Our program starts with a full weekend of fellowship and community building – right before our first Monday of classes – marked by a Convocation with a celebration service to which we invite a person distinguished for her/his role in Hispanic ministry. Our second weekend, in the exact middle of the two weeks of classes, is used differently by different people: some to read and write, others to rest and play, yet others to visit a nearby church, city, relative, or friend – and a few do several or all of the above! The Thursday before our last day, we have a community dinner and a joyous “talent show” to draw the program to a celebratory close. Friday, after the last, shorter classes, all in the morning, we share a light lunch and say our goodbyes.
We meet each summer in a different institution and region, rotating among our 50+ sponsoring institutions – thus boosting the ecumenical, itinerant, independent spirit of the Hispanic Summer Program.
Our faculty is carefully chosen almost two years earlier: eight professors of the best possible academic quality – most of them new to our program – with a balance of scholarly disciplines, denominational families, theological orientations, ages, gender, national roots, teaching language and academic seniority. Luckily we have a growing pool of Latina/o potential faculty already numbering above 200 – half of whom have been invited to teach at the HSP in our first 20 years of service.
Our students are mostly Latina/o M.Div. students from one or another of our 50+ sponsoring schools. We regularly have also up to a 10% (5 to 8) African, African American, Asian, Asian American, European, and Euro-American students (most of them engaged or interested in ministry with/among Hispanics). We accept students from non-sponsoring institutions, and Ph.D. candidates, too. In fact, Ph.D. students are often eligible to gain experience as summer Teaching Assistants, thanks to a contribution of our sister program, the HTI (Hispanic Theological Initiative). The HTI often also sponsors, within our summer program, a Latina/o Pre-Doctoral Conference for students aspiring to enter a PhD program in the future, or who are already enrolled in one.
Our Admissions Committee takes into account not just the grades and date of application of our applicants, but endeavors to insure a diversity of denominations, theologies, ages, gender, ethnicities & sponsoring institutions in our student body.
Often, other things run parallel to the HSP. For instance, Through Hispanic Eyes: a sub-program that attracts 5-10 non-Hispanic faculty from sponsoring institutions interested in the contributions of, and dialogue with, Latinas/os. They engage in interaction with our HSP faculty and students, and depart 4-5 days later both enriched by, and having enhanced our program, in ways not possible otherwise.
Outside the classroom, students, faculty & administrators have a number of opportunities to meet, talk to each other, and build community. We worship together, share most meals, and – time and weather permitting – we play sports or games, take a stroll, watch the news, or sit together to study, research, or write.
Daily worship before lunch is a central component of our summer program. We encourage a variety of worship services organized by a different group of students each day, hoping our participants will both humbly learn from, and gently teach, each other – helping us all to become abler to love each other the way God loved us (1 John 4:11), and to make of our churches better signs of God’s love.
Invariably, each summer program is so rich, fulfilling, and significant, that not only does it get very affirming, heartening evaluations from most or all of the students – but a large number try to come back to the HSP again and again in subsequent summers. We are probably doing something right, right?
Come and see for yourself one of these summers – or enroll in the next one!!!