On the evening of February 18, 2015 more than 75 local and international education and exchange professionals gathered in the auditorium of Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (Funglode) in Santo Domingo to officially open the 26th Annual Conference of the Association of Academic Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean (AAPLAC). The event marked the beginning of a 4-day conference for representatives of international exchange programs to discuss the theme “Preparing Today’s Students to Uncover Local Realities in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
After a brief welcome and introduction to one of the Foundations’ newest student exchange initiatives, the Global Dominican Academic Exchange Program (GDAE), InteRDom, GDAE and Fellows program manager Mandy Sciacchitano announced the evening’s keynote speakers: Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Technology Ligia Amada Melo Vda Cardona and President of Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Funglode and former President of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernandez.
Minister Melo gave an interesting presentation about the Ministry’s international scholarship program, summarizing not only the partnerships that they have with institutions abroad, but the benefits of the program and the vision for the future. She highlighted the Ministry’s dedication to post-graduate education, as well as its career portal and job database to connect students returning from abroad with the local labor market.
President Fernandez then took the stage and gave an insightful address about the current state of education in Latin America, focusing on the areas in which international collaboration and exchange may contribute to the development of educational policy and achievement, especially in regards to high-level research, language learning and database creation. He particularly highlighted the STEM field and technology as key industries to fortify in order to continue to strengthen the higher education system and connect it with the employment sector.
In addition to the international education professionals, a group of former student participants in the GDAE programs were also present, and had the opportunity to network with President Fernandez and Minister Melo, as well as share their experiences with the international guests in an effort to encourage more similar programs at universities in other parts of the world.
The AAPLAC Conference will begin working sessions on February 19th in Funglode, and will also hold sessions at the local universities, Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), Instituto Dominico-Americano, and Universidad Iberamericano (UNIBE).
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.
The Global Dominican Academic Exchange program, a project of the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and its sister organization in the Dominican Republic, Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), an extension of their internship, research and study program,InteRDom, aims to introduce Dominican students to the American style of liberal arts education and encourage dialogue between Dominican students and their Dominican-American counterparts attending these institutions, thereby encouraging and inspiring partnership and entrepreneurship initiatives which will foster innovation and stimulate Dominican economic development and international understanding.