More than just classes and internships, the InteRDom program is about learning about the culture, history and geography of the Dominican Republic while having FUN! The Summer 2008 program was chock-full of activities to teach students about this one-of-a-kind country from many different perspectives. For example, one of the first excursions of the summer was a trip to the northern part of the island to visit museums in Salcedo and Santiago. InteRDom’s tour guide, Tirso Cabral, took advantage of the three-hour bus ride to the interior to teach the group about the Dominican landscape and the history of the people, particularly of General Trujillo and the Mirabal sisters. As we passed through La Vega, he taught us about the Dominican agricultural economy, and pointed-out all of the different crops that grow in the richest farmlands in the country. When we finally arrived at the Mirabal Sisters Museum in Salcedo, the only remaining Mirabal sister and the caretaker of the museum, Dona Dedé, was awaiting the group. She encouraged us to tour the museum first, and then return to speak to her so that she could answer any questions that we had concerning the museum and the lives of the sisters. The museum and its artifacts were fascinating, as were the beautiful gardens that surrounded the house and the graves of the sisters. Dona Dedé spoke to the group for over 30 minutes about her sisters, their experiences, and how their lives differed from how they are depicted in the book In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.
However, not all of our excursions include museums! We also took a relaxing overnight trip to the beautiful beaches of the Samaná Peninsula, as well as a day trip to the popular Saona Island. Our weekend excursions covered almost the entire geography of the island, in order for students to fully experience the country’s diverse culture and topography.
Even during weekdays, we organized activities so that the students could come together and share stories about classes, internships and daily life. This year the students met almost every Thursday, bringing friends that they had made at the University and at work to have a good time and to get to know the rest of the group. Among the activities that we planned within the city were: a trip to the theater to see a play, a movie and pizza night, a trip to the movies, countless dinners and a group excursion to see a comedian at UNIBE.
The Summer 2008 InteRDom program was full of fun and interesting activities, and the students learned a lot about the Dominican Republic while forming close bonds with one another. InteRDom is looking forward many more successful programs in the future!
The blog also provides useful information for students and inspires lively debate and increased interest in exchange and the development of Hispaniola.