IHP Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning, and Politics (Fall)

Letters Home

Archived letters:

The Letters Home are written by students on this program, with help from the Trustees Fellow, at the end of each country program. Letters from the current academic year can be found at the Letters Home blog. You can read past letters through the links on the right. We hope you enjoy reading about our students’ experiences!

Fall 2012 Letters

Opening our eyes after nine hours of attempted sleep on the plane ride to Sao Paulo, our first view of the city was from above: a sprawling mass of concrete buildings spreading for miles in every direction. On the ride from the airport we passed building after building, and behind each building, each door and window, were people and their lives - families, friends, strangers, neighbors - all with stories to tell.
Read the entire letter.

New Orleans, USA
Our group of 35 wonderful students from colleges and universities around the United States met for the first time on August 20th at the Kingsley House in New Orleans. We were provided a warm reception by the program staff including our traveling faculty for the semester, our exuberant country coordinator Ms. SherriLynn Colby-Bottel, and other members of the IHP staff. After mingling for the afternoon and saying goodbye to the handful of parents who had made the journey to NOLA, we were introduced to the city and to the safety protocols for our group. One of the first items on the agenda was our evacuation plan in case of an emergency.
Read the entire letter.

South Africa Letter Home
Our initial reaction to seeing Cape Town from the window, after spending twelve hours on two airplanes, was vastly different from our first impression of Sao Paulo. Instead of a sprawling megalopolis, Cape Town seemed small and quaint. The lights of the city twinkled softly and were interspersed with large dark patches.
Read the entire letter.

Fall 2011 Letters

Detroit, USA
During their keynote address, Stephen Vogel and Dan Pitera of the University of Detroit Mercy (our Detroit host institution) explained how the City’s phenomenal growth in the early 20th century was due to Ford’s doubling of  factory wages (to $5/day) and related accessibility of homeownership.  The city burgeoned with single family houses, wide streets and plenty of work through World War II and into the 1950’s. While changing economics have currently left Detroit neighborhoods with high rates of abandonment and blight, Stephen and Dan challenged us to see unused land as an opportunity for reuse and reinvestment. During the first week, we met with city agencies and non-profit organizations to learn more about their efforts on behalf of the future of the city.
Read the entire letter.

Sao Paulo & Curitiba, Brazil
Beginning the next phase of our journey, we stepped off a plane and into São Paulo, Brazil. We received a warm reception from our country coordinator, Glenda de la Fuente, before boarding a bus to the center of the city. Along the ride, many were struck by the scene around them. “When I arrived in São Paulo,” said Hillary Clark, “I was quickly overwhelmed by the size and structure of the city. Coming from a city of 700,000 people to one of over 10 million is quite a rapid change.” Looking out the bus windows at South America’s largest city, we also saw the visible manifestations of the urban issues that we would cover throughout our time there, including informal settlements built on public land, the polluted Tiete River, and the relentless traffic congestion.
Read the entire letter.

Cape Town, South Africa
Descending into the city bowl formed between Table Mountain and the bay that shares its name, we entered Cape Town, South Africa on a cool Saturday evening. The view riding in from the airport was picturesque as the city lights shone brightly against the dark blue contrast of the water. Focusing our thoughts on our new location, we began to wonder how the scenery and landscape of Cape Town could provide a means for understanding the city’s population, its history and its potential.
Read the entire letter.

Hanoi, Vietnam
After a long flight and stopover in Kuala Lumpur, we arrived in Hanoi, a city which we expected would be the most unfamiliar on our IHP journey. Reaching the Ancient Quarter in the center of the city, with its twisting, narrow, spaghetti-like streets there was activity and motion everywhere we turned. Stores and workshops spilled out onto the sidewalks. Motorbikes and pedestrians negotiated the streets through an unspoken understanding of its rhythm and flow. Taking in this vibrant scene, our group began to question whether this was wholly unfamiliar to us or if it was in some way reminiscent of the bustling street activity that we saw in the favelas of São Paulo. Learning more about Hanoi, our experiences from Brazil and South Africa came to mind increasingly frequently as we recognized some familiar patterns and acknowledged some new ones.
Read the entire letter.

Request Information
Apply Now
Continue My Application

Credits: 16

Duration: Fall, 16 weeks

Program Sites:
New York, NY, USA; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; Hanoi, Vietnam.

Prerequisites: Previous college-level coursework and/or other preparation in urban studies, anthropology, political science, or other related fields is strongly recommended but not required. Learn More...

Student Evaluations

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2012 Evaluations

Fall 2013 Evaluations


Connect With Us

Connect icons

888.272.7881 (toll-free in US)



Mailing Address:
PO Box 676, 1 Kipling Road
Brattleboro, VT 05302 USA

Contact us by email.