Students, Faculty Spend Spring Break Helping Elementary School Children in Dominican Republic
FORT MYERS, FL - For the fourth consecutive year, students and faculty from Florida Gulf Coast University will travel to the Dominican Republic March 5 through 14 to work with a disadvantaged elementary school, meet with community members and their families, and visit several education centers from primary to secondary.
Thirteen students and three faculty members will participate in the volunteer service-learning project focusing on literacy. The students will develop literacy programs both for the elementary school and for Accion Callejera, an organization that provides services and training for street children.
“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.
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.
College of Arts and Sciences advisor Craig Heller and assistant professor of teacher education Debra Giambo 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.
The FGCU Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, the Student Government Association, President William C. Merwin, and Provost and Vice President Brad Bartel are helping to 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.