SMI Students


Do you have to live near Philadelphia to participate in SMI?  No, most students come from healthcare campuses from Philadelphia or the east coast, but students also apply from all over the United States. Some years we even have healthcare students from overseas participate!

If I live in Philadelphia can I live at my home/apartment and commute in to the project each day? No, for multiple reasons. Some working days are long, with speakers or small groups in the evening after dinner, so commuting will encroach upon your day. Living inside North Philadelphia also is invaluable in helping students better understand and connect with the neighborhood. More importantly, the program is designed to build community among the participants, and communal living allows for spiritual growth through relationships, shared experiences and daily interaction with your team members. During SMI we usually live at or near a church (often one of our partner churches) that can provide group housing.

I may not be able to make it to the whole program, but can I still do SMI? Not usually. A legitimate excuse from your school or work or for a wedding you are in may be an acceptable absence for a day or two, but SMI requires that all participants attend the entire program for multiple reasons.  Permission must be granted from the director for any absences and certain exceptions may be made, but please talk with the SMI director about your individual circumstances.

Is it possible to do SMI if you are married? Yes! Even if your spouse is not formally participating in SMI it may be possible for them to visit, join us for meals, or even come on an outreach. We do want you to be present for the entire program, but a brief check in at home may be possible for part of your day off. Talk to the SMI director about your individual circumstances.

I’m an upper level student. Can I get credit for a rotation by doing SMI? Yes, each year we have one or more students receive school credit by participating in SMI. Rotations are possible depending on your school requirements and availability. Esperanza Health Center can provide you with information to provide to your school, and the SMI program will make sure you have a supervisor in your discipline. If your school requires you to complete an additional week, this can be arranged. It also may be possible to use that week to help work on our post-program efficacy research. If you’re interested in this option, contact the SMI director early on in the year at to begin inquiring into the process. 

What’s a typical day like? A typical day begins with breakfast, early morning group devotions, followed by announcements and a brief transition for everyone to get in their groups  and make sure they have supplies for their day’s work before group prayer and heading out. Students may either walk or drive a short distance to their locations and are usually out on the streets and working in homes for six hours of the day, with a one hour break for lunch back at our living location. Immediately after returning at the end of the workday, the entire group participates in a debriefing led by one of the leaders or faculty members to process the day’s work, allowing the students to ask questions and share insights, and also occasionally discuss relevant aspects of the health education we are doing. Debriefing is followed by dinner brought by a one of our wonderful meal volunteers! Sometimes the group will have a speaker over dinner. The students have free time afterward, or twice a week will meet with their bible study small groups. Students also use some evenings to work on various tasks, including working on the research project, planning our end-of the-program banquet, making a slideshow, writing blog entries, etc.

Do you have to do SMI Philadelphia in order to participate in the Albania project? (on years when the Albania project is offered) Since we are only in Albania two weeks we have a limited amount of time to learn the screens, become comfortable working door-to-door and get to know our new Albanian team members, while simultaneously learning about the new culture and surroundings in Albania. By participating in SMI Philadelphia, students are able to become adept at the functional work of the screens, and develop close relationships with their American team members. This allows them to focus more meaningfully on other aspects of working and learning in the international context. It also prepares students to work soon after arriving and allows them more ability to provide support to the Albanian students, if needed.

However, if you would like to participate in SMI Albania but are unable to participate in all three weeks of SMI Philly, an exception may be made as long as you are able to attend the SMI Philly orientation (where you will receive training) and are able to attend at least a few days of door-to-door medical outreach, ideally in the summer. A small portion of additional fundraising will be required, in addition to the Albania cost. Please contact the SMI director at if you are interested in this option.

The student support for participating in the SMI is $1400, which is tax-deductible if donors itemize deductions. Many students choose to raise support to cover this cost. If you choose to support raise, we can provide sample letters, forms and guidelines to help you, and will provide support and information throughout, while tracking your progress each week.

Accepted Students: Please return your confirmation and release forms as soon as possible–the deadline in 2020 is April 7. You may email or mail your commitment forms (Attn: SMI Director, MCO/SMI, 1701 Delancey St, Philadelphia, PA 19103). You should have received these forms by email along with your acceptance letter.

Here’s an awesome video, courtesy of the SMI 2015 participants, with highlights from SMI 2015!

If you have been accepted to SMI Philly and are a member or regular attendee at Tenth Presbyterian Church, please click here to download Tenth’s Short-Term Trips Application and review information on the training sessions you will need to attend.  Questions?  Please email the SMI Director.

Waitlist Students: We will notify you no later than April 30, 2020 if a spot becomes available for you to attend SMI Philly, and must provide us with your decision by May 7.