Dominican Republic - Service Learning in Hispaniola: Joining Forces with Caminante - Summer 2014
Travel Dates: May 18-June 4, 2014
Robin Shura, Professor of Sociology
Cristina Marques, Research Teaching Professional
- SOAN 28000: Social and Cultural Contexts of Childhood in Hispaniola (Spring 3-week session, 2014)
- INTD XXXXX: Childhood and Poverty in Hispaniola (3 credits)
Background of this Program
Boca Chica is a city of about 50,000 people located about 30 kilometers from Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. It is a tourist-oriented community with a long beach lined with modest hotels and restaurants. Unfortunately, many of the local residents are in severe poverty. Among those who suffer the most are children. Due to limited family resources, many children work on the street when they should be in school. This is further complicated by the fact that a high proportion of the poor residents are of Haitian descent. There is long standing enmity between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Although this has been reduced somewhat recently, people of Haitian descent still experience prejudice and are marginalized. This has particular impact on the children. Although they may be born in the Dominican Republic, they are not recognized as citizens of that country. Since they are not born in Haiti, they are not recognized as citizens of that country either. Therefore, these children have no citizenship and no documentation. This lack of documentation makes enrollment in school, access to social programs (like public health services), and regular employment very difficult or impossible. As a result, Haitian children in the Dominican Republic grow up without access to the normal services that are expected from government, and the cycle of poverty and marginalization is perpetuated. Many of the children end up on the street (some living there), and are exposed to violence, economic exploitation, drug use, and sexual exploitation.
Caminante is a local non-governmental organization focused on addressing the needs of disadvantaged children. Founded by a Dominican nun in 1994, this organization provides support for children and families in the areas of education, legal advocacy, social support, job training (for young adults), and positive personal development.
The summer of 2011 marked the beginning of a very special relationship between Hiram College and Caminante, an NGO dedicated to helping impoverished children in the Dominican Republic. Hiram students, staff, and faculty rolled up their sleeves and worked alongside Caminante on three service learning projects.
Given the incredible needs facing these children, the Hiram College community continued working with Caminante during the summer of 2012 and once again is eager to continue this partnership with a new group of dedicated students. If you are interested in learning about the impact of culture, poverty and society on childhood in Hispaniola, then consider this trip! If you are motivated to expand your knowledge, apply your skills, and selflessly serve the children of the Dominican Republic, then this is the study abroad experience for you!
While on the island, participants will:
- Analyze the impact of the social, political, historical and cultural antecedents to the current relationships between Haiti and the Dominican Republic based on observation within the environment.
- Analyze poverty in the Dominican Republic from the perspective of different disciplines represented by the course faculty and from their own perspectives.
- Describe the impact of sugar cultivation on the economy and culture of this Caribbean island and the impact of the subsequent transition to the tourism industry.
- Deliver and evaluate a service learning project meant to help reorient the postcolonial dependency of the local economy on sugar and sexual tourism. Implement plans to help combat poverty, providing children with access to education and addressing health needs. Such plans will be grounded in your understanding of the causes of poverty. Adjust plans in response to conditions on the ground, developing adjustments in dialogue with fellow students, professors, Caminante, and the children of the Dominican Republic.
- Evaluate the range of economic and cultural activities you witness in a diverse set of locations, including Santo Domingo, Duarte street, the facilities at Caminante, etc.
- Describe the parameters of childhood and adulthood in the Dominican Republic, evaluating how the culture and economy of the Dominican Republic impact how these categories are understood and expressed.
Departure will be from Cleveland, Ohio and arrival will be at Las Américas International Airport, the airport closest to Santo Domingo, the capital city, which is itself about 40 minutes from Boca Chica.
Estimated Program Costs
Summer tuition plus $3,300: includes round-trip transportation, in-country transportation, all meals, housing, and group entrances. Personal expenses, passport fees, and independent travel are not included.
A $75 non-refundable fee is due upon receipt of completed application.
Preference will be given to Spanish-speaking students and to those who have not previously been on this trip.
December 1, 2013