The slogan “The Study Abroad Experience in Latin America: An Opportunity to Create Social Awareness,” concluded the 23rd Annual Conference of the Association of Academic Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean (AAPLAC, for its acronym in English) which took place in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, from February 15 to 18, 2012.
The workshops and events that took place during the conference were of particular interest to the InteRDom program, which is currently reviewing its strategies to bring universities and organizations closer together in order to develop internships and service learning programs. The program representative, Reyna Rodriguez, InteRDom’s Coordinator of Internships and Corporate Relations, attended workshops that addressed the issues of creating social awareness among the students, the use of technology during the experience of studying abroad, and safety and diversity.
The conference highlighted the importance of preparing the students even before their experience of studying abroad through courses, workshops, or lectures where they have the opportunity to learn about the culture and the idiosyncrasies of the country they will visit. In the end, it was determined that “social awareness” is acquired after experiencing living in a culture or environment different than one’s own.
Other universities and organizations that attended the conference included: Yale University, Meredith University, the University of Birmingham-Southern, La Salle University (Colombia), the National University of Chiapas (Mexico), the Central University of Mexico, the Winona State University, Campbell University, the Central University of Merida (Mexico), CIEE Latin America and Caribbean, Ohio University, Keene State University, International Humanitarian Foundation, IFSA-Butler University (Mexico), the Oaxaca Solidarity Network (Mexico), the University of Illinois, Saint Xavier University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, among others.
The AAPLAC conference was created with the vision of facilitating and supporting the programming between Latin American and Caribbean higher education institutions and organizations dedicated to promoting academic and intercultural experiences with institutions in the United States. By its nature, it fosters communication between those institutions and professionals in the region.
The internship program, 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.