After 4 days of intensive working sessions, riveting speakers, cultural workshops and excursions and a lot of networking and exchange of ideas, the 26th Annual Conference of the Association of Academic Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean (AAPLAC) drew to a close on Saturday, February 21st with a final cultural excursion to the historic ruins of Boca de Nigua sugar plantation in the southwestern part of the Dominican Republic.
The Boca de Nigua trip is the final of the cultural activities included in the program, which began with a guided tour through the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. Participants also heard a workshop on the Dominican Carnival from renowned historian and cultural expert Dagoberto Tejeda. The Boca de Nigua visit is part of the “slavery and tyranny” tour, where participants learn about colonial slave culture and rebellions, as well as communities of escaped slaves that lived in the mountainous regions of the country. Conference-goers also had the opportunity to hear a local Afro-roots band play traditional music from the era.
The Saturday afternoon excursion followed the close of working sessions in the morning at the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (Funglode) headquarters in Santo Domingo after a night of dinner and dancing at local restaurant El Conuco. Over the course of the 4 days of speeches and working sessions, participants made presentations about issues and innovations in their respective schools and study abroad programs surrounding the theme “Preparing Today’s Students to Uncover Local Realities in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
The Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) hosted a lunch working session on the afternoon of February 19th, where the group was received by the rector and vice rector of the university, Ivan Grullón Fernandez and Rafael Nino Feliz, viewed a film on Carnival and heard the workshop from Dagoberto Tejeda, and were entertained by the university’s student classical orchestra and Dominican folkloric dance groups.
The following day the group was welcomed by Executive Director Rafael Marion-Landais at the Instituto Cultural Dominico-Americano for the morning working session, and by the Dean of International Affairs Loraine Amell at the Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) for the afternoon session. An elegant business lunch was provided by the Ministerio de Educación Superior Ciencia y Tecnología (MESCyT).
The AAPLAC Conference is unique in that it brings together a diversity of parties involved in international exchange—study abroad and international programs personnel from U.S. universities, local program coordinators in Latin American countries, U.S. faculty leaders of short programs in Latin America and representatives from Latin American host universities. The participants share challenges, successes and strategies to improve the quality of study abroad programs in Latin America, and make provocative presentations designed to challenge stereotypes and improve upon the training and experience that both students and local communities receive.
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.