Today marked the first day for the School of Public Health’s very first study abroad program and this year we have the pleasure of visiting the Dominican Republic.
On day 2 in the Dominican Republic, a highlight was visiting la Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the country’s biggest university, and learning about gender-based violence.
I met a little girl at the orphanage tonight. She’s stolen my heart even though I couldn’t understand most of what she said. Ella será mi amiga para siempre. (She will be my friend forever.)
As we get to see more of this amazing city and practice our Español, we have made a lot of connections with our public health counterparts in-country, who are showing us how they provide real help for real people.
The highlight of day three was a visit to MUDHA, a non profit organization that works with non-citizen Dominicans of Haitian decent, particularly mothers and children; to promote the equal respect for human rights.
Day six included a visit to Mercado Modelo, a marketplace that sells Dominican souvenirs, reflecting the pervasiveness and the commitment to culture and tradition in this country.
With a complete immersion into the Dominican culture and way of life, some students are awakening latent Spanish language skills through daily practice.
On their first full day in Sosua, which happens to be Mother’s Day in the Dominican Republic, students look at the paradox of women being both honored and mistreated in the Dominican Republic.
As they began their second week of study in the Dominican Republic, students continued to practice their Spanish and enjoyed an excursion that was a first for many: snorkeling in the clear blue waters of Sosua.
Day 10 revealed the human face of public health: learning best practices in HIV services during a charla (talk) with colleagues at a local organization, then reduced to tears by the conditions at a public hospital in Puerto Plata.
In acclimating to their new surroundings, our students have adopted the Dominican Spirit, which is more than just being laid back or being hard-working, but rather the combination of the two.
On their second day volunteering just outside Sosua, students enjoyed lunch and fellowship with families of children attending 3 Mariposas Montessori, then practiced new dance skills on Cabarete beach.
On Day 13, students continued volunteering and getting to know local families. As they learn more about how Haitian immigrants are viewed and treated, the contrast of the warm hospitality we have received is not lost.
As the pioneers of SPH’s study abroad program we engaged in numerous adventures over the 2 week period. What better way to end our journey in the Dominican Republic than with a trek through the jungle, allowing us to truly say WE DID IT!