Students, Faculty Spend Spring Break Helping Disadvantaged Children in the Dominican Republic
FORT MYERS, FL - Next week, students and faculty from Florida Gulf Coast University forgo their Spring Break for the fifth consecutive year to volunteer in the Dominican Republic helping disadvantaged children and community members.
The students volunteer for the trip as part of their Service Learning project at FGCU. Service Learning is a program that provides opportunities for community involvement.
"Students will not only earn their Service Learning credits by doing this kind of work, but they will return with a better understanding of what service means," assistant professor and trip coordinator Ingrid Martinez-Rico said. Assistant professor of interdisplinary studies Craig W. Heller will also accompany the group.
"The University expects students to meet University learning outcomes in classrooms and through service learning experiences. These experiences support learning outcomes, foster civic responsibility and, hopefully, develop informed citizens who will participate in their communities after graduation in personally and professionally relevant ways," Service Learning coordinator Linda Summers said.
"Presently the Spanish Club is feverishly collecting products such as clothes and books in Spanish to help with their service projects in the Dominican Republic," Martinez-Rico said.
"In past years, FGCU students were able to lend their labors to the crucial work of building safe housing for the poor of Santiago as well as providing environmental and literacy education to disadvantaged children while getting some first-hand experience in a developing nation. For the past several years, the students have been working with Accion Callejera, an organization in Santiago that provides services and support for street children. This year's project will provide drug awareness information as well as literacy and hygiene education.
"This interaction between FGCU students and faculty, citizens of the Dominican Republic, and members of the Dominican community here in Fort Myers which assists in preparations for the trip, contribute significantly to the educational mission of the University by further expanding all our horizons," Martinez-Rico said.
After returning, the group presents a PowerPoint lecture open to the public noon, Friday, April 1 in Whitaker Hall 101.
"This year students will emphasize through a series of educational initiatives the concept of self-identity and friendship," student volunteer Victor A. Tejera said.
The FGCU Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Student Government Association, President William C. Merwin, and provost and vice president Bonnie Yegidis are helping to fund the trip.
Howerver, students are personally raising the majority of the necessary money through food sales, cultural dance and carwashes. In addition to expenses, the raised funds pay for school, building and project materials in the Dominican Republic.
For more information, contact Martinez-Rico at (239) 590-7232.