Students, Faculty Spend Spring Break Helping Elementary School Children in Dominican Republican
FORT MYERS, FL - For the third consecutive year, students and faculty from Florida Gulf Coast University will travel to the Dominican Republic for Spring Break, March 7-16, to work with a disadvantaged elementary school, meet with community members and their families, and visit several education centers.
Fourteen students and three faculty members will give up all nine of their vacation days for a volunteer educational project that combines art with ecological awareness.
“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. “In terms of learning, our students will benefit immensely by the exposure they will have to the Spanish language, the Dominican culture and its people.”
Service Learning is an FGCU program that provides opportunities for community involvement.
“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.
“An appreciation for the interconnectedness of individuals, the communities in which they live and the resources required to sustain them is facilitated by the reflective component built into the Service Learning program. Documenting service learning activities enables each student to build a portfolio which highlights goal attainment and skill acquisition,” Summers said.
Adjunct assistant professor Craig Heller and associate professor of art Patricia Fay will also accompany the group.
“In past years, FGCU students were able to lend their labors to the crucial work of building safe housing for the poor of Santiago and get some first-hand experience in a developing nation. This interaction between FGCU students and faculty, citizens of the Dominican Republic, and members of the Dominican community here in Fort Myers who assist 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 will present a slide lecture for the public from 11 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, March 26 in Griffin Hall Room 109.
The FGCU Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences help fund the trip, but students are personally raising a large portion of the necessary funds through food sales and carwashes.
The Dominican Republic has never recovered from the early 1990s when it was burdened with a $4.6 billion foreign debt, had an estimated 30 percent unemployment rate and an annual gross national product of about $1,050 per capita, as reported by Funk and Wagnalls.
For more information, contact Martinez-Rico or Heller at (239) 590-7232.