Students, Faculty Spend Spring Break Helping Disadvantaged Children and Community Members in the Dominican Republic
FORT MYERS, FL - Students and faculty from Florida Gulf Coast University forgo their Spring Break for the sixth consecutive year to volunteer in the Dominican Republic helping economically disadvantaged children and community members.
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.
Dr. Craig Heller and Dr. Debbie Giambo, both FGCU faculty, 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.
Because of the success of the service learning projects in Santiago over the past six years, the group has been invited to meet with the vice president of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Albuquerque, courtesy of Leonardo Garcia, executive director of the SWFL Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Demostenes Martinez, a delegate of Santiago.
In past years, FGCU students labored at the crucial work of building safe housing for the poor of Santiago as well as providing environmental and literacy education to children while getting some first-hand experience in a developing nation. This year's project will provide an educational program that will inform the public of ways to prevent HIV/AIDS.
The objective of the project is to teach social responsibility and create awareness and sensitivity to problems hidden in local communities and abroad. FGCU students will learn about issues of development and allocation of resources.
"This year students will emphasize through a series of educational initiatives the concept of respect for their community, body, self and others," student volunteer Joelle Leigh Robles said.
"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 Thursday, March 23, at 12:15 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.
Students are personally raising the majority of the necessary money through food sales, cultural dance and carwashes. In addition to expenses, the funds raised pay for school, building and project materials in the Dominican Republic.
For more information, contact Martinez-Rico at (239) 590-7232.