March 27, 2014

Global Dominican Academic Exchange Program Commences at National Dominican Student Conference

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Nine Dominican college students arrive to Boston today as part of the Global Dominican Academic Exchange Program (GDAE) to participate in the 8th National Dominican Student Conference, from March 27-30 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The participants are a diverse group hailing from both public and private universities across the Dominican Republic, as well as one InteRDom alumna from Baruch College. They will be received at Harvard University by their student hosts, with whom they will be lodged throughout the conference and who will serve as guides to their Harvard experience.

The National Dominican Student Conference (NDSC) is an annual conference that strives to provide the highest quality in educational workshops, inspirational speakers, art exhibitions, networking events, and parties – all of which serve to educate, uplift, and unite the Dominican student community. The theme of this year’s conference is Diáspora de la Tambora: Celebrando Arte y Cultura, which translates to “Diaspora of the Drum: Celebrating Art and Culture,” and will ask students the question, “How can the arts be used to mobilize our communities to address issues such as race, education, and identity?”

At the conference, participants will attend educational workshops, listen to inspirational speakers– including keynote speaker Josefina Baez– attend art exhibitions, networking and social events, all of which provide a unique opportunity for professional and cultural exchange and growth between the Dominican and Dominican-American participants. Additionally, participants will explore various aspects of Dominican experience through expressive mediums such as painting, creative writing, and music. Participants can look forward to creating their own artwork, watching and participating in various performances, sharing their own experiences in a specially organized panel and interacting with talented artists in the Dominican community.

Two of the GDAE participants will have special participation in the conference, sharing their experiences during panel discussions in front of hundreds of their student counterparts.  Lina Gutierrez, a business major from Universidad Iberoamericana, will explore the differences between the Dominican and American education systems in the panel “La Nueva Escuela: Dominicans and the Education System.”  Meanwhile, Gretcher Hernandez, who participated in the pilot program of InteRDom’s Dominican International Student program in the summer of 2013 with an internship at the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, will be a panelist on Saturday’s “How to be Dominican: Media and Identity” discussion, speaking to identity formation issues in the Dominican Diaspora.

All nine participants in the GDAE program will also receive private tours of the famed Harvard University, as well as Boston University, to learn more about higher education in the United States.

The program at Harvard is the first event of 2014 for GDAE, which organizes a series of topic-specific events of short (maximum one week) duration in collaboration with the Dominican student organizations at a variety of United States universities throughout the year.  The InteRDom staff works closely with student representatives to plan the activities, and then to recruit and bring students from Dominican universities to participate.  Hosting events with different thematic concentrations ensures that diverse groups of Dominican students have the opportunity to participate.

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.