The service learning program developed by the City College of New York and InteRDom requires that the participants work as a team in order to accomplish the goals of the project and to make the best possible use of the time that they spend in the Batey Libertad community. For this purpose the participants were carefully selected, and the project requires that each makes use of his or her particular interests and talents in order to make the best possible contribution to the project and to ensure its success.
Both InteRDom and the participating affiliated organization Yspaniola have been impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of this hard-working group of students. Find out more about their backgrounds, their interests and their impressions of their experience in the Dominican Republic so far in their own words by clicking on the audio clips below.
Jenny Cruz is set to graduate from City College in September with a major in International Studies, concentrating in economic development. A native of Santiago, Dominican Republic, she has a particular interest in Dominican-Haitian relations, which is the topic of her thesis for which she is gathering research through her experiences on the Service Learning program. Jenny’s role on the team is that of the scribe, she produces written accounts of the work that the group is doing and interviews community members to produce short biographies of the women participating in the leadership workshops and update the content of the blog and webpage that will serve as a tool to increase their visibility and sell their handicrafts on foreign markets.
Edward Cuesta recently returned to the classroom to complete a degree in International Studies after more than 20 years of experience in the global remittance industry. Also of Dominican heritage, Eddie chose to participate in the Service Learning Program in order to gain a fresh perspective on economic development, trade and governance in his native country, specifically as they relate to the country’s relationship with Haiti. He also hopes to gain important insights for his thesis work. Eddie’s role in the project is that of the “business leader,” providing support, advice and guidance on how to create a business model to the women of Batey Libertad who are taking advantage of Yspaniola’s microfinance project to sell their handicrafts for income.
Ana de la Cruz is the creative mind of the group, a film major graduating this September. Also of Dominican heritage, she moved to New York at a very young age and was interested in participating in the program because of the opportunity it afforded her to get to know her native country and to put her skills in film to work to bring it more exposure. Ana’s role is to record all of her team’s activities, from cultural outings to classes to the work in Batey Libertad, and to produce a couple of short videos at the end of the experience that will promote the women of the batey and their microbusiness, and will provide insight as to the life of an international student, particularly of the diaspora, participating in an academic and service project in the Dominican Republic.
“Estoy aquí porque estoy tratando de avanzar en mi carrera como cinematógrafo, productora y estoy aquí en el proyecto en la comunidad en los bateyes, la gente de los bateyes y la relación entre haitianos y dominicanos en el batey. Para mí este proyecto fue muy importante porque como documentar es parte de la vida real y para mí la vida real y poder poner la vida real en un cine o en una película fue muy importante. Pero más importante fue el tema, que es la relación entre los haitianos y los dominicanos.”
Nick-Edward Woolley, the only non-Dominican of the group, was raised in Haiti, and thus provides an important perspective to the group’s work in Batey Libertad. He is a junior studying International Studies with aspirations to work in the world of international NGOs. He speaks English, French and Haitian Creole and was interested in traveling to the Dominican Republic in part to perfect his fourth
language, Spanish. Nick serves as the project’s official linguist, providing translation services for team members when trying to communicate with Haitian Creole-speaking members of the batey community and facilitating inter-cultural relationships.
Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities (taken from National Service-Learning Clearinghouse,http://www.servicelearning.org/what-is-service-learning). The program developed by the City College of New York with InteRDom is conducted in collaboration with Yspaniola, and requires each student will put his or her skill set and interests to use, each taking on a different role in the economic development project that will empower the women of the community to produce, market and sell a product that will contribute to their incomes and help to raise their standards of living. Students also participate in other community-building activities as needed, including painting latrines, teaching technology and English skills and conducting leadership workshops. Read more about this initiative in our blog.
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.