July 28, 2008

InteRDom Presents Second Seminar on Aspects Relative to Haitian Immigration in the Dominican Republic

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On Monday, July 28, 2008, the InteRDom Program, in partnership with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), concluded its summer seminar series with the second seminar, “Aspects Relative to Haitian Immigration in the Dominican Republic.” Natanael Concepción of the United Nations Association of the Dominican Republic (UNA-DR) opened the night by introducing the presenters to a crowd of 60 students from the United States, France, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as NGO representatives.  He also provided the audience with information on the internship program and the upcoming Dominican-Haitian Forum, taking place at FUNGLODE Headquarters in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, August 30th and 31st.

The seminar featured presentations by: Cesáreo Guillermo, Regional Director of PADF’s Nuestra Frontera Program; Kiran Jayaram, Columbia University Ph.D. Candidate and Fulbright Scholar conducting research in the Dominican Republic; Juan Carlos Sánchez, PADF Consultant and Executive Director of the Altagracia Touristic Cluster; and Michela Da Rodda, Administrative Assistant and Research Assistant for the PADF’s Nuestra Frontera Program.

Cesáreo Guillermo provided a historical overview of the island of Hispaniola’s political division and summarized the themes discussed during the previous seminar, while emphasizing the need for continued discussion and participation in future seminars of this type.

During his presentation, “Distinction and Ambivalence,” Kiran Jayaram offered an anthropological perspective on the experiences of Haitian immigrants living in the Dominican Republic’s border region, discussing the diversity of the community and making important distinctions in terms of social and economic standing.

Later on in the evening, Juan Carlos Sánchez assessed the impact of tourism development in the zone of Bavaro – Punta Cana on the immigration debate, highlighting the level of impoverishment that subsists amongst the Haitian immigrant community in this area of the country. Via a presentation of statistics, he pointed out the large amount of financial capital being invested in tourism development, in comparison to the relatively small sums of money afforded to Haitian workers, many of whom work within the construction sector. Powerful and thought-provoking, his presentation gave voice to a side of the immigration debate rarely discussed.

Following Sánchez’s presentation, PADF Representative Michela Da Rodda revealed the findings of her research on Dominican and Haitian public opinion as it pertains to Haitian immigration to the Dominican Republic, on both sides of the border.  Later, Cesáreo Guillermo took the floor again, armed with statistics, pictures and case studies to further qualify the presentations.  The crowd participated in his presentation, helping him to pinpoint aspects common to all the presentations, and to identify feasible solutions for the people of both countries, with respect to adequately addressing the challenges associated with immigration.

The Pan American Development Foundation, established in 1962 through an agreement between the Organization of American States (OAS) and the private sector, fosters alliances between communities and public, private and non-profit institutions, with the objective of positively contributing to economic and social development throughout the Americas.

InteRDom, an initiative of Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), is the premier internship and academic study program in the Dominican Republic. The Program offers international students the opportunity to obtain professional experience by interning with Dominican organizations and businesses related to their field of study, complemented by courses and seminars at local universities.

Since its establishment in 2005, InteRDom has had interns from over 30 international universities. This summer’s interns represent the following universities: Fordham University, Amherst University, Syracuse University, Stony Brook University, and Science Po y el Instituto de Estudios Políticos de Toulouse (France).

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