The two simultaneous University of Rhode Island January Programs hosted by InteRDom came to a close on Thursday, January 16 after an engaging two-week agenda of seminars, lectures, field trips and service projects for the largest group InteRDom has hosted to date– 24 political science and nursing students and 5 professors.
The agenda began on Monday, January 6 with a morning orientation seminar on in-country health and safety practices as well as a tour of the headquarters of InteRDom’s parent institution, Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), followed by a film screening of PBS’s: Haiti and the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided, where Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. recounts the history of the island of Hispaniola, which makes up the nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. A welcome lunch was provided for the groups and a tour of the Colonial Zone completed the full day of activities.
Before departing for their service learning project, the political science student group and their professor received an additional workshop on Tuesday morning, where they learned about the pedagogy behind service learning; the history and mission of Yspaniola, InteRDom’s partner organization which hosted the students at their service site, Batey Libertad; and the importance of meaningful action and reflection in service learning projects. Cesareo Guillermo, an expert in civil society and public initiatives, and Lic. Carmen Pie, gave a special presentation on the historical evolution of the batey in relation to the sugar industry and inter-country relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
After returning from their respective service learning projects at Las Matas de Farfán and Batey Libertad, the groups participated in another full week of activities aimed at helping them to contextualize their field experiences by providing historical, cultural and political information about the Dominican Republic.
On Monday, January 13, the political science students received special training in their field, participating in a very interesting Caribbean culture seminar in the morning on the political history of the Dominican Republic, given by Lic. José Martínez Brito. Afterward, they took an Urbanization and Economic Development City tour of Santo Domingo to have a better understanding of how Santo Domingo developed as a city and get a taste for all of the different neighborhoods in the city.
Visits to the Dominican Congress and the Museum of the Resistance on Tuesday, and a trip to an organic cacao plantation and to the Mirabal Sisters Museum in the northern Cibao region of the country on Wednesday provided rich cultural experiences for the students and complemented what they have learned about the history of the Dominican Republic during the two weeks.
On Thursday, both groups took part in a roundtable discussion on the state of public health in the Dominican Republic, featuring the participation of the leading experts and professionals in the field in the areas of nursing, medicine, alternative medicine, tropical diseases and human trafficking. The lively discussion provided opportunities both for the students to learn about the unique public health situation in the country, and for the experts to share knowledge and ideas that will lead to increased understanding and harmonization of efforts in the field.
The students were fortunate enough to dialogue with the following experts: Dr. Marcos Nuñez, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Iberoamerican University (UNIBE) and former President of the Dominican Association of Medical School Faculties (ADOFEM); Liyana Pavón, juris doctorate specialized in human and gender trafficking; Mrs. Silvia Tejada, Director of the National Bureau of Nurses, Public Health Ministry; Mr. Stefano Todde, expert in International Health: HIV/AIDs prevention, control, care and support and consultant of the Dominican Ministry of Education; Lic. Mirtha Tejeda, National Director of Nursing Services, Dominican Institute of Social Security (IDSS).
The internship program, InteRDom, an initiative of Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), is the premier internship, research and academic study program in the Dominican Republic. It offers international students the opportunity to research important topics at the forefront of the United Nations agenda, obtain professional experience by interning with Dominican organizations and businesses related to their fields of study and/or earn academic credits by taking courses and seminars at a local university.