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Students, Faculty Spend Spring Break Helping Disadvantaged Children in Dominican Republic
3/9/2007

FORT MYERS, FL - Students and faculty from Florida Gulf Coast University forgo their Spring Break to volunteer in the Dominican Republic helping disadvantaged children and community members March 2 through March 11.

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.

Working with a Dominican non-profit organization and a local elementary school, FGCU students have contributed to the crucial work of building safe housing for the poor, teaching environmental awareness to elementary school children, and establishing literacy programs for children that work in the streets, while experiencing life in a developing nation first hand. This project is known as "Global Community Engagement."

The project's goal for 2007 is to further strengthen its educational programs and continue to explore the best use of resources for assisting disadvantaged Dominican children. This year the art of photography will be introduced to the children, who will be provided with recyclable cameras to take pictures of their world.

After returning, the group presents a photographic exhibition titled "Art-Y-Facts" open to the public at 5 p.m., Thursday, April 11 in the library at FGCU. The "Art" in this exhibition denotes the photographs that the children take which are actual translations of their world through the art of photography.

The conjunction "Y" in the title makes reference to the fact that this is a Spanish-speaking milieu. The "Facts" point to the inalienable crude realities of these children, something that cannot be whitewashed or beautified or made more comfortable by enclosing it within a frame of the walls of an art gallery.

Finally, "Artifacts" will be some of the objects displayed such as working tolls and toys that the children make from the surrounding environment, utilizing found objects that those of us from the first world would consider trash. Pictures and objects will be framed and displayed using actual trash brought from the streets where these children work and live.

The entire interaction between "Global Community Engagement" and the children and their communities will be documented photographically by Chip Hoffman.

For more information, contact associate professor and trip coordinator Ingrid Martinez-Rico at (239) 590-7232 or imrico@fgcu.edu.


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