Participant Information

Educational Philosophy
Health Insurance
Health Care / Services
Additional Services
Campus Arrival / Departure
Weather / Clothing

SPI is an educational experience in the context of community. There is much diversity within the SPI community. Participants represent different nationalities, races/ethnicities, genders, economic classes, educational levels, religious traditions and belief systems. In some cases, people come from opposing sides of a conflict. It is our hope that the SPI learning community will be a place that is safe for everyone to truly be themselves. You can help nurture a secure and respectful community by coming prepared to engage in ways that honor the other.

Plan to:

  • Interact respectfully with people whose cultures, religions, and/or traditions may be different from your own.
  • Listen carefully to the experiences and beliefs of others in an effort to learn more about your differences and commonalities.
  • Be considerate of all individuals, regardless of their opinions and experiences, even if you disagree with them.
  • When you are speaking or interacting, watch for body language as a clue that your speech or behavior may be making others feel uncomfortable.
  • Be aware that various cultures have sensitivities about dress that are important to them.
  • Recognize that views about relationships between men and women vary greatly from society to society.
  • Sexual harassment, defined broadly as unwelcome sexual advances or language, is not acceptable in the SPI community.
  • Acceptable conduct may differ from culture to culture. If you become uncomfortable with anyone’s behavior toward you at SPI, we encourage you to talk with an SPI Community Assistant or another staff person. We are here to help you feel safe in this learning community.

SPI reserves the right to ask a participant to withdraw from a course early if, based on our experience and judgment, his/her conduct jeopardizes the educational experience of the class as a whole, or jeopardizes the emotional or physical safety of any individual and/or the group.

SPI registration and a welcoming ceremony will be held on the lower level of the University Commons building on the first day of each session. Registration begins at 7:30 am and the ceremony begins at 8:30 am. All participants enrolled in the session are expected to attend registration and the welcoming ceremony.

SPI classes generally meet from 8:30 am to 5 pm each weekday, with a 2 hour lunch break. Classes also gather for an all-SPI coffee break from 10-10:30 am and have an afternoon snack break at the instructor’s discretion. There are no scheduled evening or weekend classes, although there may be optional seminars or workshops offered at these times. Classes end at 4 pm on the final day of each session.

Course materials will be distributed via Moodle online and/ or in your classroom on the first morning of class. Required texts for courses can be purchased at the University Bookstore or read on reserve at EMU’s Hartzler Library.

We post a preliminary syllabus for each course on the web, as we receive it from the instructors. Once it has been received, it will be available on the SPI Courses page.

Every international participant attending the Summer Peacebuilding Institute must have health insurance that is valid in the US and meets Eastern Mennonite University’s guidelines for international participants attending a program on campus. Minimum insurance standards are:

  • medical benefits of at least $50,000 per person per accident or illness
  • repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500
  • expenses associated with medical evaluation in the amount of $10,000.
  • deductible less than $500 per accident or illness

Participants must provide proof of insurance at SPI registration. If a participant does not have insurance that is valid in the US and meets the minimum standards above, you will be required to purchase insurance through the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. We have made an agreement with an external insurance provider for coverage.

Please note that the insurance provide by SPI is considered “injury and illness” coverage. It will cover accidents and emergencies (after a $250 per incident deductible). It will not cover regular medical appointments, pre-existing conditions, or the use of EMU Health Services. EMU Health services will cost $35 and up depending upon the level of care provided. Participants will need to pay for EMU Health Services at the Health Services office.

A nurse practitioner will be available in the EMU Health Center at posted hours and by appointment during SPI. A fee of $35 or higher will apply at time of service, regardless of insurance coverage.

  • All SPI participants (even current MA students!) will need to complete a health form at registration and turn it in to the Health Center. This form will include a basic wellness screening. Additionally, you may be asked to make a follow up appointment with Health Services staff.
  • If you are currently undergoing any medical treatment for a serious illness (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.) please bring records from your doctor so that your care can be continued in an appropriate manner while you are here.
  • All participants will have access to EMU’s Hartzler Library. Materials on reserve for classes may only be read in the library during their open hours. Other materials may be checked out. Books for each course will also be available for purchase in the University Bookstore located in the University Commons.
  • Computers with internet access will be available for your use in several locations on campus. You are also welcome to bring your personal computer. There is wireless service available in Hillside Suites and several other buildings on campus. Your computer must have wifi capability to be used on campus at EMU.
  • The EMU Fitness Center has an outdoor and indoor walking/jogging track, tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, as well as exercise equipment and a weight room. SPI participants will be able to access these services at no additional cost.

SPI provides a breakfast buffet during registration at the start of each session. A morning coffee break and afternoon snack are also provided each day classes are in session.

The University Cafeteria serves a noon meal on weekdays while SPI is in session. This meal is included in the price of lodging for those living on campus. Those living off campus wishing to eat in the cafeteria may purchase the noon meal for $6.50 per day. The University cafeteria does not generally permit food from outside to be brought into the main dining room.

Once each session, the entire SPI community gathers for a catered meal and special presentation, called a Frontier Luncheon. There is no additional cost to SPI participants for this meal, whether or not you have the meal plan otherwise.

For all other meals, you are on your own. Participants living in Hillside Suites may cook in the kitchen in their suite. Two grocery stores – Red Front and Food Lion – and several local restaurants are within walking distance of the EMU campus. Special items such as specific spices, halal meat, and kosher foods may be difficult to find in Harrisonburg so you may want to pack accordingly.

Participant accommodations on campus are in air-conditioned suites or apartments at the Hillside Suites dormitory. Each apartment has 2 to 4 bedrooms adjoining a common living room, bathroom and kitchen. There are individual phones but no TVs in the suites. Although you will be assigned to a suite with other SPI participants of your gender, you can request a single bedroom (one twin bed) or a double bedroom (two twin beds, two participants in each room). A single room costs more per night than a double room. Please note your request on the Reservation form.

SPI contracts with Auxiliary Services on campus to provide each bed with a pillow, blanket and a linen set. A linen set consists of two flat sheets, one pillowcase, two towels and two washcloths. Each Wednesday morning before classes, you can exchange your used linens for fresh ones.

The kitchen in each suite/apartment has a stove, microwave and refrigerator. Dishes, basic cooking ware and eating utensils are also provided. You are welcome to bring your own favorite kitchen tools.

Check-in for lodging is at Hillside Suites. See a Community Assistant (CA) to get your room assignment and key, and your key card for dormitory access.

More info: Driving directions and a Campus Map for Eastern Mennonite University

If you are traveling through multiple times zones before arriving at EMU/SPI, you may want to schedule your arrival for a day or two before your session begins in order to allow your body time to adjust.

If you are arriving the morning of your first class, go directly to the 1st floor of the University Commons for registration. If you are arriving prior to the first day of classes, check in at Hillside Suites with one of the SPI Community Assistants (CA) in Room 102. Since all dormitories on campus require key card entry, you may need to call the CA on duty first to get access to the building. There is an exterior phone located in a box to the left of the main entrance door to Hillside. A contact number for the CA will be posted at the entrance.

Classes end at 4:00 pm on the last day of each session. Please note that it may take three hours to reach the Washington DC airports and you will need to be there two hours in advance of your flight. If your flight departs before 9:00 pm you will have to miss the end of your final class. You will also need to arrange a time to check out with a CA prior to departure from campus.

SPI transportation will be available for anyone needing pick-up/ drop-off at an airport or train station. A shuttle fee will apply.

Please note: If you are expecting an airport pick-up upon arrival and no one is there to meet you, please call 540-437-6014 (SPI Community Assistants) or 1-888-774-9368 (SPI Transportation Coordinator). Take a taxicab from the Washington DC airports only as a last resort since it may cost you as much as $300 to get to Harrisonburg. There is no bus or train service between Washington DC and Harrisonburg.

(Read more about Travel Information)

If you are travelling on a J-1 visa you will note that the beginning and ending dates on the visa correspond with the beginning and ending dates of your first and last class session. Please note that with a J-1 visa you can arrive in the US up to 20 days prior to the beginning date listed and do not have to leave the country on the ending date. You have up to 20 days after the ending date on your visa to leave the country, but no more than the total number of days you were taking classes.

However, if you are travelling on a B1/B2 visa you must leave the country by the ending date listed on your visa or you will be in violation of your visa.

Please contact with any visa questions or clarifications.

The weather in the Shenandoah Valley varies greatly during May and June. It can be as cold as 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) or as hot as 32 degrees C (90 degrees F). There can be periods of rain or dry heat. Spring is usually, however, quite pleasant.

Bring along an umbrella, a light jacket, sweaters, warm socks and shoes, in addition to hot weather clothing. If you enjoy physical exercise, you may also want to bring along clothing suitable for such activity. EMU does have coin-operated laundry facilities on campus.

You are also encouraged to bring the traditional clothing of your region. One evening during each session, we will celebrate the food, clothing, and cultural traditions of SPI participants.

Please review the Estimated Costs. All fees will be due within two weeks of receiving an invoice from SPI. Applicants who require a US visa will not be invoiced until after they have received their visa.

SPI may occasionally offer optional activities such as travel or sightseeing on weekends and between sessions. Fees will apply depending on the activity.