Western Carolina University

PT 880 – Addressing Global Health Issues in Central America

Dates: May 13-24

A Summer Travel Course to Honduras in 2023
Open to WCU DPT students

Led by Dr. Todd Watson

Tropical Environment

Pulhapanzak Waterfall

Tropical Environment

Clinica Medica


Pulhapanzak Waterfall


Clinica Medica

Clinica Medica


Helping Others While Developing Professionally

Clinical Mentoring

Giving Love




Local food

Course Rationale/Major Purposes of the Course:

The purpose of this independent study is to prepare students, in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, to optimize the delivery of care to individuals with disabilities in a remote area of Honduras, enhancing both clinical skills and cultural competency through an interdisciplinary perspective.  The focus of the independent study is on introduction to global health with various triage, medical screen and direct patient care interventions requiring complex clinical reasoning performed in small group for an ambulatory (walk-in) clinic. The independent study will include assigned readings and a variety of on-line resources regarding Central American culture, and potentially Collaborative Online International Learning experiences (aka COIL).








“We strive to ensure this focus for our work: that the reason we are there is not because we have a valuable service to offer but rather because they are valuable persons.

That is why we journey.”

Join the 1st travel course for DPT at WCU

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Meet health care practitioners and students in Honduras

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Experience rural Central American culture

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Advance in your clinical skills

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Open to opportunities yet to be revealed

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Broaden your horizons

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Be one of the few students who study abroad!

Enjoy the world as your classroom!


Taulabé, Honduras

Estimated Costs


Disclaimer: The budget below is a good-faith estimate of the costs incurred during this travel course of PT 880, based on minimum requirement enrollment of eight students. The items can change as actual costs become known. We have given our best estimate, and we will do whatever we can to minimize the costs while maximizing your experience. Should enrollment increase, course cost may reduce. Enrollment is capped at ~17 students due to lodging and transportation capacity.

Note: If you qualify, these costs may be covered by financial aid. Should you come upon any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to: finaid@wcu.edu or 828.227.7290.

Note: WCU reserves the right to cancel or alter the course format or to change costs as situations require.

Item Amount Payment Comments
Airfare from ATL to SAP $500 Student responsibility The trip begins and ends from the USA airport.
Baggage fees $30 Student responsibility This will cover one checked bag one way which you will need to transport supplies and donated goods.
Admission to activities $60 Student responsibility Pulhapanzak Park (canopy tour and waterfall hike) and tour of Cuevas de Taualbé.
Room/board $240 Pay to WCU Students will pay to Honduras Fountain of Life, the USA partner of Fuente de Vida (Hendersonville, NC). This NGO non-profit organizes multiple mission trips each year. The fee covers lodging and evening meals.
Eating out $60 Student responsibility We will eat out 2-3 meals and will also buy groceries for breakfast/lunch. You may also pack snacks, breakfast bars, etc.
Travel insurance $68 Student responsibility This is recommended (not required) when purchasing your airline ticket.
Health insurance $17.40 Pay to WCU International health insurance required by WCU.
WCU International Programs & Studies administrative fee $200 Pay to WCU For IPS administrative costs. *This is a proposed amount, in the past it has been $50.
Admin course fee   ~$850 (based on only 8 enrolled) Pay to WCU For administrative instruction costs for course credit (in lieu of tuition charge) based on 8 enrolled students.
Estimated Total $2025.4 Note: with 17 enrolled students, the cost shifts to ~$1850.

Proposed Itinerary


Day 1

  • Fly AVL -> ATL -> San Pedro Sula; drive 2 hrs to Taulabe
  • Stop at fruit stand to by fresh fruit provisions
  • Meet children at the orphanage (hogar)

Day 2

  • Grocery shop for bread, milk, etc
  • Meet local leaders through which we will work to reach the community
  • Take inventory, coordinate and plan logistics/teams for clinic services

Day 3

  • Begin coordination of onsite local medical brigade service (e.g. direct PT care)
  • Full day onsite local medical brigade service (e.g. direct PT care)

Day 4

  • Full day onsite local medical brigade service (e.g. direct PT care)

Day 5

  • Recreation activity – visit Caves of Taulabe.
  • Trip to Siquatapeque for:
    • Watch local soccer
    • Shopping and local scene experience
  • Optional – making tomales

Day 6

  • Full day onsite local medical brigade service (e.g. direct PT care)


Day 7

  • Full day onsite local medical brigade service (e.g. direct PT care)

Day 8

  • Recreation activity – visit National Park (Pulhapanzak) for zip line, hiking and waterfalls

Day 9

  • Rest and recovery day
  • Shopping – souvenir, coffee, etc.
  • Visit local street market

Day 10 

  • Full day onsite local medical brigade service (e.g. direct PT care) 

Day 11 

  • Full day onsite local medical brigade service (e.g. direct PT care) 

Day 12

  • Leave 8am to return to AVL



Frequently Asked Questions



How do I apply?

The application is located in the bottom section of Application, where there are two Qualtrics survey links (the unofficial one goes to Dr. Watson directly, which helps Dr. Watson to know your background immediately, and the official one goes to WCU Global, which is required for your admission into this travel course). A short interview will be arranged after Dr. Watson gets your unofficial application and you will be informed soon whether you will join this course.

When are the trip applications due?

The full application is due on Jan 15.

However, the estimated costs are based on early booking (buying flight ticket 5-6 months prior, etc.), and the later it goes, the higher the costs will be. Meanwhile, booking flight tickets requires your passport number. If you want to join this course, you need to get your passport ready by early January, which means that you need to apply for the passport in Nov or sooner if you don’t have one yet. You might as well apply for this course asap.  Beginning December 1, the deposits open, and close February 1. You are highly encouraged to talk to Dr. Watson in person to make a decision on whether you can/want to join the travel course as soon as possible.

Is there an application fee to join this travel course?
No. Application is free. Still, apply for this course only if you really plan to go.
When will we hear back if we are selected to go on the study abroad trip?
Dr. Watson will review the applications and may invite students for a short interview. Following the interview, students will be notified about whether they are accepted to the course.
Is this class only for Doctor of Physical Therapy Students?

At this time there is only opportunity for DPT students, although as our program changes we are looking to partner with other health related programs. Alumni are encouraged to consider as well, as larger groups need more mentors.

How many students get to go and how are they selected?

Course enrollment is limited. Our Honduran partners could not possibly accommodate your entire class of 48 students. First, housing capacity limits the number of students and our local partners graciously allow us to utilize a facility with bunks for approximately 20. Secondly, enrollment is capped to maintain a maximum of about a 6:1 student to faculty ratio.  Students are chosen through an application process that includes academic criteria, a student questionnaire, and an interview with the primary instructor. Note that the proposed budget is based on 12 students. As long as 8 students are going, the trip will happen. When there are more students, the budget per each student will be lower.

Can I still take this class if...

Can I still take this class if I don’t go to WCU, if I’m graduating in May, or if I graduated already?

Yes, you can but it is complicated. First you would need agreement by Dr. Watson. Then you would need to apply to WCU as “transient student,” and there’s a $50 charge to the Admissions Office to do that. For more details, see the Admissions Office’s information about transient students. For WCU grads, your 92 number will basically be reauthorized for summer session and you’ll be registered/billed for the course just like anyone else. For non-WCU students, the process is a little more involved, but it’s mostly just paperwork.

Costs and Financial Aid (Pre-Trip)

I have a question about financial aid. Who do I contact?

Reach out to: Financial Aid

Are there scholarships available to help pay for the trip?

Potentially there are some study-abroad scholarships from multiple organizations, but at this moment there is no such scholarship (free-money) from WCU. One option is to check with WCU’s Office of Global Engagement. They have a list of common scholarships for which students may qualify.

When are payments due?

A $500 non-refundable deposit is required by February 1 (you can pay beginning December 1) to be paid on the Faculty-Led website. Airline tickets are purchased once enrollment is closed and course deposit has been made. Payment to 3rd party for room/board will be due at that time. All remaining travel costs are due by mid-March (unless covered by financial aid; Financial aid payments are typically made 9 days before trip departure).

Is there a payment plan or do I pay all of the money upfront?

Details will be provided once the number of students is set. For money going directly to the school, you will pay $500 by Feb 1 and the balance by mid-March. Other funds will be paid in March & April, and airplane tickets will likely be bought no later than mid-Feb. Your food money won’t be spent until you’re in Honduras.

To whom do I make the check out for the trip?

As the trip approaches, Dr. Watson will explain where payments should go. It is paid at OneStop.

What extra things will I need to budget for while travelling (e.g., food, gifts, etc.)?
The following are examples of items that have NOT been included in the budget:

  • Gifts – buying souvenirs for yourself or for others
  • Extra activities – what you do in your free time
  • Breakfast and lunch – evening meal is provided and you will need to pack snacks/lunchables or purchase once in country.
  • Excess travel – The amount budgeted for travel will be enough to get you to/from all required activities. However, anything you do on your own time will need to be covered by you.

See the budget for a list of what is covered, which will help you determine what isn’t covered.

Course Contents

What is the goal of the course? What are the objectives?
GOAL: To develop oneself as a global health service practitioner.

Course Objectives:  At the completion of this directed study course, the student will be able to: address the following:

  1. Differentiate the typical struggles facing the majority (non-industrialized) world, both material and non-material from those in North America.
  2. Define health promotion and provide rationale for how a multifaceted, evidence-based health promotion program with community participation, can positively modify the complex socioeconomic determinants of health.
  3. Describe global health and the specific health conditions encountered in the field
  4. On the basis of their interdisciplinary learning experience in health and wellness describe:
    • How this course experience will guide their future clinical practice.
    • What perspective shifts regarding their world-view occurred, and what are their changes in ABC (affect, behavior, and cognition).
    • To what extent they hope to “pay it forward” (i.e., share new ideas and insights with other students in classes across the curricula), public speaking opportunities (i.e., present to interdisciplinary audiences across campus and at national and international conferences), and networking opportunities (e.g., ongoing interaction with friends and colleagues in Honduras).
What kind of school work is involved before the trip?
Before the travel, the students will meet about once a month in spring on logistics, orientation, and some lecturing. There will be reading (and related assignments) due before the travel so that students are prepared and will make the most of their time while traveling. Participation in the 4-5 pre-trip preparatory, organizational and cultural information sessions will be mandatory (~90 min ea).
Please read the syllabus to learn more about the assignments and grading for the course.
What will be required of us while on the trip?
During the trip, the students are required to actively participate in all clinic events, community visits and cultural activities, take notes and photos during each visit, respect oneself and others, follow schedule and directions, and work as a team.
Please read the syllabus to learn more about the expectations of students while on the trip.
What does the post-trip work entail?
After the travel, the students will complete a reflective assessment paper(after returning from the trip): This essay (1500-2000 words) should Describe the experience (who, what, where, when, how? – yes and even why you went), Examine the experience from the framework of 1) academic learning, 2) civic learning, 3) and personal growth (e.g.: how did you collaborate on this project – including students, faculty and community partners; what role did you take on?, how did communication work?, etc.). Additionally, your paper should Articulate the Learning (“I learned that…, I learned this when…, This learning matters because…, In light of this learning…”). The essay will incorporate what you learned, what worked, what did not work, and will include an assessment of your impact on the community as well as the community’s impact on us. In closing, you should address how you intend to “pay it forward”. Rubric is provided with the syllabus.
Please read the syllabus to learn more about what is required upon the completion of the travel.

Credit Hours

How many credit hours will I receive for this class?

You will receive three (3) credit hours under the PT 880 course number, which will be designated as Service Learning on your transcript.

The three credit hours of the PT 880 course are determined based on the contact hours and course contents. A student can not elect to receive zero or less than three credit hours by doing fewer or none of the coursework nor to receive more than three credit hours as there are no further coursework to warrant it.

Are the credit hours too few?
The PT 880 course is for three credit hours. We understand the common concern that if a student wishes to be eligible for summer financial aid, s/he needs to register for at least six credit hours of WCU courses in summer. After you register for another 3-credit course from WCU, you will be eligible for summer financial aid consideration. Note that the actual amount of aid depends on your financial need situation and please contact the financial aid office to find out your specific situation.


Will I need a passport and/or a visa?

Yes, you will need a passport.

If you do not have a passport, apply for one at any post office. The cost is $135 altogether (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/fees.html). Allow for 6-8 weeks . If you have a passport, make sure that it is valid until 6 months from the day we leave USA. To get the best deal in flight ticket, you should have your passport ready in December.

What do you recommend we pack? How much?
We’ll talk about it as we get closer to departure, but…

Whatever you do, pack lightly! Plan to take a carry-on and a backpack – for personal items. You will use a couple duffle bags [your checked bags] to transport your clinic/donation/humanitarian supplies. This will be discussed during the pre-trip class sessions.

  • I can’t stress that enough (but I’ll try).
  • The website One Bag is a good resource that goes into detail about one-bagging it for trips abroad.
  • This YouTube video on bundle packing that shows how to get 16 garments into a carry-on.
  • Scan through Lifehacker.com’s packing-related posts to get more tips. Some are geared more toward frequent business travelers (like this YouTube video, which is way beyond my packing abilities), but the tips still might be helpful.
How much cash should we have on hand while in Honduras?

In Honduras, the Lempire (or lemp) is the official currency that is traded with US Dollars under restrictions. Students typically bring between $100 to $200 cash. At the airport you can change USD into lemps easily, but it may not be as easy the other way around. Many, but not all businesses will take dollars [ask before attempting purchase]. In the estimated budget plan, the student responsibility in Honduras includes some meals. Some extra spending money is also recommended. The credit card you use at home, is typically accepted but you will need to notify your credit card company of your travel plans. It is recommended that you bring some USD, and exchange part of it to lemps to see how much more you need to exchange later, instead of exchanging all your cash at once.

Will we be flying as a group or by ourselves?
  • We don’t include flight costs in the required payment to WCU  (added in the budget, though, to give you an idea on the overall cost and allow it to be covered by financial aid) because of students taking different itineraries home, using frequent flyer miles, leaving from a different city, etc.
  • For the flight over, we will try to go as a group either from or through Atlanta. Dr. Watson will provide students with the flight numbers as it gets time to book tickets.  
How will the roommates be paired? / What will the living situation be like?

The lodging is provided by our community partner, Fuente de Vida.

  • The mission house is air conditioned, sleeps ~20 and has separate quarters for men and women.
  • The bedrooms have bunk beds with linens, pillows and towels.
  • There is a washer/dryer [this minimizes the number of outfits to pack]
  • There is a small kitchen with typical appliances such as microwave, coffee machine, stove, etc.
What medical examinations/immunizations will I need before going?

None is required to join this travel course.

Please maintain your routine immunization, and you may also check out the Health Information for Travelers to Honduras for more details.

Who are we going to be with in Honduras?

We will travel by ourselves. However on site there will be many children. The Fuente de Vida campus is 14 acres and has a K-12 school with 350 students daily, a girls orphanage home and a transition home for teen girls attending the school from a distance.

We will try to have several interpreters available during clinic operations. Occasionally we may have another clinician from one of the clinics we will visit accompanying us during the day. We will not join tours that are rushed by a guide.

Location: Taulabe, Honduras – Fuente de Vida mission school/orphanage and medical clinic (U.S. partnering agency www.hondurasfountainoflife.com)

  • Housing – Homestay at Fuente de Vida mission home
  • Meals – evening meals provided
  • Tours – available but not part of program fee (e.g. zipline, waterfalls, caves)
  • Travel arrangements – airfare 3rd party available; ground transportation provided
  • Security – crime for the area is relatively low, and the residence has 24hr security
Should I use a phone in Honduras?

Needless to say, owning a phone in Honduras would be very useful and give peace of mind, but it is not necessary. It recommended as an opportunity to unplug from electronics and just live in the moment. 

If you activate the international roaming service of your cellphone to use in Honduras, you can maintain your regular phone number. However, it can be expensive. Please contact your cellphone provider to understand the terms and rates.

If you do not activate the international roaming service of your cellphone to use in Honduras, you can utilize wifi calling via WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype, etc.

Also, please keep the phone numbers of the instructor and the contacts at activities (which will be provided when the activities are confirmed), in case you ever need to use a public phone to get in touch with us.


Student questionnaire to the instructor

Click the link of this brief QUESTIONNAIRE to fill it online. It helps Dr. Watson learn more about you and your interest in the course. Once submitted, the data will go directly to Dr. Watson.

Navigate to the WCU Global Engagement Faculty-Led Travel site and click on “Faculty-Led Pre-Application Submit Today” for the pre-application.  WCU global will then send you the full application (a qualtrics survey format). This is the official application form required by WCU Global. Once submitted, the data will go directly to WCU Global, and it will be forwarded to Dr. Watson (not instantly, but at regular updating periods). It is imperative that you complete both application forms…the Qualtrics form above (the one that goes to Dr. Watson) and this official WCU Global one.    

The information of this course on the Qualtrics survey is provided below: 

Course prefix, number, and name: PT 880 – Addressing Global Health Issues in Central America
Course destination (city, country): Taulabé, Honduras
Course duration (e.g., 10 days): ~12 days
Leading instructor’s name: Dr. Todd Watson
Travel Dates (mm/dd/yyyy to mm/dd/yyyy): 05/13/2023 to 05/24/2023 

Note: In the space for your email address, use your @catamount.wcu.edu address. Also, do not leave the physician contact information section blank. If you have a regular physician, fill in their name, address, and phone. If you don’t have one, put in WCU Health Services at 828-227-7640.

Dr. Watson will review the applications and may invite students for a short interview. Following the interview, students will be notified about whether they are accepted to the course. Should demand require it, preference will be given to those with extensive MAP-Health clinic experience. It is important to submit your applications as soon as possible. Of course, if you have any questions filling out the forms, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Watson.