CIEE-Service Learning Fall 2014, Issue 2

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As the semester comes to a close, students explore the bigger picture of what they have been working toward for the past four months. The experience is not just an academic one, but a deeply immersive, reflective, and collaborative endeavor that affects real communities and real lives. Whether they were working alongside public health caseworkers to spread information about rights of disabled children, developing resources to bring environmental education into the classroom, or working to improve literacy skills among elementary school students, their daily work in the community provided tremendous opportunity for growth. From this learning, they developed, alongside community members, research that would serve as the basis for tangible, sustainable projects. In this newsletter, students discuss the experiences they have had in their communities, the research and projects theyve left behind, and the lessons they are taking with them as they board planes to fly home. -CIEE Staff

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<ul><li><p>CIE</p><p>E </p><p>Fall 2014, Issue 2 </p><p>Service-Learning, D.R. </p></li><li><p> 2 </p><p>What are we leaving </p><p>behind? </p><p> As the semester comes to a close, students explore the bigger picture of what they </p><p>have been working toward for the past four months. The experience is not just an academic </p><p>one, but a deeply immersive, reflective, and collaborative endeavor that affects real commu-</p><p>nities and real lives. Whether they were working alongside public health caseworkers to </p><p>spread information about rights of disabled children, developing resources to bring environ-</p><p>mental education into the classroom, or working to improve literacy skills among elementary </p><p>school students, their daily work in the community provided tremendous opportunity for </p><p>growth. From this learning, they developed, alongside community members, research that </p><p>would serve as the basis for tangible, sustainable projects. In this newsletter, students dis-</p><p>cuss the experiences they have had in their communities, the research and projects theyve </p><p>left behind, and the lessons they are taking with them as they board planes to fly home. </p><p> -CIEE-SL Staff </p></li><li><p> 3 </p><p>contents </p><p>Until the Streets of Santiago </p><p>-Hannah Currens Macalester College </p><p>What We Can Learn from Nature </p><p>-Erica Modeste, University of Richmond </p><p>Finding Harry Potter </p><p>-Victoria Ware, Stonehill College </p><p>Public Health: A Personal Responsibility </p><p>-Kimiko Kasama, Transylvania University </p><p>Alumni Update </p><p>4 </p><p>10 </p><p>12 </p><p>Public Dissemination/Capstone and Tangible </p><p>Projects </p><p>6 </p><p>8 </p><p>14 </p><p>Farewell Celebration 16 </p></li><li><p> 4 </p><p>After spending most of the last two years in the land of tall, fair-</p><p>skinned, blue-eyed, blonde people, I got used to blending in </p><p>with the crowd. My home university, Macalester College, proud-</p><p>ly calls St. Paul, Minnesota, home. The liberal political leanings, </p><p>the quirky artistic culture, and the progressive social move-</p><p>ments are all familiar to me. Ive almost mastered my Minneso-</p><p>tan accent, and I can navigate icy sidewalks with ease. The </p><p>Twin Cities are definitely a place where I feel like I belong. </p><p>Until I spent four months in a country where I completely stand </p><p>out, I never realized how much I was used to fitting in. I am five </p><p>feet and eight inches of blonde-haired, blue-eyed, gringa </p><p>(American girl). Although Im already taller than most San-</p><p>tiagueros (natives of Santiago), I still keep my hair tied up in a </p><p>high bun on my head to beat the heat here in the Dominican </p><p>Republic. Thanks to the skin, the eyes, the hair, and the height </p><p>(which is further augmented by the aforementioned pile of hair), </p><p>Im hard to miss as I walk through the streets of Santiago. </p><p>As my semester abroad draws to a close, I have begun reflect-</p><p>ing on the lessons learned in my time here in Santiago de los </p><p>Caballeros, Dominican Republic. Between my classes at Pon-</p><p>tificia Universidad Catlica Madre y Maestra and my community </p><p>partnership with Fundacin Cuidado Infantil Dominicano </p><p>(Dominican Childcare Foundation, or FCID), I have gained valu-</p><p>able knowledge of Spanish grammar and community develop-</p><p>ment in a developing country. Though I know these lessons will </p><p>serve me well in future academic and professional endeavors, I </p><p>believe the most valuable lessons this semester came as I </p><p>walked the city streets. </p><p>I certainly did a lot of walking in my work with FCID. In the com-</p><p>pany of seven different promotoras (community health case-</p><p>workers), I explored more than 20 different communities in the </p><p>province of Santiago de los Caballeros. We made an average </p><p>of three or four visits every afternoon to families of children with </p><p>disabilities. In each home, we provided rehabilitation services to </p><p>the children through an adaptive system that incorporates the </p><p>families and local assets. The result is the Community-Based </p><p>Rehabilitation program that is ideal for people with disabilities </p><p>living in poverty. </p><p>It only takes a walk down one of the busiest streets in the cen-</p><p>ter of the city, Calle del Sol, to realize the extent of exclusion </p><p>people with disabilities experience in Dominican society. There </p><p>are few ramps from the curbs into the streets, the sidewalks are </p><p>uneven and filled with bustling crowds, the traffic follows no </p><p>discernable pattern, and the few visible people with disabilities </p><p>attract numerous stares. I pursued these observations through </p><p>my research this semester to determine the extent to which the </p><p>society in Santiago is or is not open to people with disabilities. </p><p>My results were interesting, to say the least. Unfortunately, they </p><p>were not at all startling. I found that 58% of the children with </p><p>disabilities who participated in my study do not attend school, </p><p>and only 14.5% know how to read. There was also a substantial </p><p>correlation between physical disability and ability to navigate </p><p>the built environment in the city. There is a 92% probability that </p><p>children who can walk experience fewer than average difficul-</p><p>ties in the communities outside their homes. There was also </p><p>evidence of significant cultural obstacles, with 31-33% of chil-</p><p>dren experiencing at least one form of discrimination due to </p><p>their disabilities, and with the parents of 46% preferring that </p><p>their child not leave the home. </p><p>My results proved to me the necessity of education about rights </p><p>for people with disabilities. Significant change is needed in the </p><p>Dominican Republic to improve the lives of people with disabili-</p><p>Until the Streets of Santiago Hannah Currens </p><p>Geography </p></li><li><p> 5 </p><p>ties, but the change is not occurring at an adequate rate. This is </p><p>not because Santiagueros do not want to include people with </p><p>disabilities in their society. Rather, the vast majority of citizens </p><p>do not realize the extent to which social exclusion affects people </p><p>with disabilities. Just as I never realized how comfortably I fit in </p><p>until I stood out, most inhabitants would not realize the obsta-</p><p>cles on the city streets until they could not step over a curb or </p><p>could not use a concho (public transportation car). Perhaps the </p><p>most debilitating aspect of life for the population with disabilities </p><p>is the lack of knowledge about their own rights. The deficiency </p><p>in awareness prevents large parts of the community with disabil-</p><p>ities from fighting for those rights they lack. That there are few </p><p>advocates fighting for the rights of people with disabilities is </p><p>hardly a surprise, considering that the majority of the community </p><p>does not have the tools to advocate for themselves. </p><p>Community empowerment first comes from education, and the </p><p>children and families in FCID are in desperate need of educa-</p><p>tion about their basic rights. For my tangible project, I created a </p><p>picture book for the promotoras to bring to their visits. The book, </p><p>Claro que t puedes! (Of Course You Can!), is based off the </p><p>United Nations Conference on the Rights of Persons with Disa-</p><p>bilities. It is designed to spark conversations with the children </p><p>and their families about what they should be able to do, and if </p><p>they cant, how they can try to initiate change. </p><p>In the streets of Santiago, Ive learned lessons that shaped my </p><p>understandings of society, privilege, and ability. Most impor-</p><p>tantly, Ive learned the weight of the word until. It presents a </p><p>notion of further knowledge waiting until a new perspective is </p><p>gained. I didnt realize how much I fit in until I stood out. I didnt </p><p>consider how debilitating a city could be until I saw its infrastruc-</p><p>ture as obstacles. The best part about this word, however, is </p><p>that it also provides a hint of possibility. Someone will not fight </p><p>for their rights until they know what their rights are. </p><p>. </p><p>There was also evidence of significant cultural obstacles, with 31-33% of children experiencing at least one form of discrimi-</p><p>nation due to their disabilities, and with the parents of 46% preferring that their </p><p>child not leave the home. </p></li><li><p> 6 </p><p>I love all things living: humans, animals, plants, and sometimes </p><p>even mosquitos. I believe that humans have lost their integral </p><p>connection with nature. Over the years, we have forgotten the </p><p>love and strength that we receive from nature and, in turn, we </p><p>have lost a tremendous power. When that connection is lost, </p><p>problems emerge: disease, exploitation, and destruction. My </p><p>work, over the past four months in On Resp (Haitian Creole </p><p>for honor and respect), an organization that works with </p><p>marginalized communities of Dominicans and Haitians, </p><p>spanned from my desire to reestablish the connection between </p><p>man and earth within the heart of communities that need it </p><p>most. </p><p>On Resp emerged in the community of Gurabo to overcome </p><p>and fight against the discrimination, racism, and prejudice that </p><p>exist between the Haitians and the Dominicans of the communi-</p><p>ty. Escuelas comunitarias (community schools), like the Es-</p><p>cuela Comunitaria de Arturo Jimnes (Community School of </p><p>Arturo Jimnes), were built to be sources of intercultural </p><p>Erica Modeste </p><p>Biochemistry </p><p>What We Can Learn From Nature </p></li><li><p> 7 </p><p>education. Arturo Jimnes, the founder of the first community </p><p>school, hoped that the intercultural education would teach the </p><p>students to live together despite their differences. </p><p>Within the school of Arturo Jimnes, I spent many days within a </p><p>ten by ten foot room with about 30 rambunctious third and fourth </p><p>graders. Most days, I served as a classroom aid, helping out </p><p>with activities when necessary. My best days, however, were </p><p>always when I had the opportunity to teach. Some days, I would </p><p>teach basic English vocabulary, such as the parts of the body or </p><p>numbers, and other days, I was given the chance to facilitate </p><p>discussions about the environment. I enjoyed the discussions I </p><p>had with the students so much that I decided to focus my inves-</p><p>tigation on the perceptions, opinions, and information retained </p><p>by the students about the environment. </p><p>My investigation sought to explore whether the students in the </p><p>third and fourth grade had an environmental consciousness. </p><p>From my discussions, I found out really quickly that the students </p><p>knew so much about the importance of the environment in their </p><p>lives. More than 90% of the students agreed that we, as human </p><p>beings, depend on the environment to live, and we are respon-</p><p>sible for protecting it. They know all the methods for protecting </p><p>it. They know that we should plantar flores (plant flowers) and </p><p>that we should not tirar la basura en el suelo (throw trash on the </p><p>ground). Answers from the kids in my study arose from the </p><p>question about suelo. Some of my favorites : What is the </p><p>relationship between human beings and the plants and </p><p>animals? One students response was Si no hay plantas, no </p><p>hay alimentos (if there are no plants, there is no food). </p><p>Anothers response was Todos son dependiente del otro (we </p><p>depend on each other). The response that really hit home for </p><p>me was el perro es el mejor amigo del hombre (dogs are </p><p>mans best friend). The students know so much about the need </p><p>and the role of the environment in our lives, but they have never </p><p>truly been given the chance to interact with the environment, to </p><p>learn from it, and to gain a respect for it on their own. </p><p>As a result, I have left the organization with a tangible project </p><p>that will serve as a guide for how to incorporate the environment </p><p>into the classroom and the lives of the students. I created a re-</p><p>source book that has environmental activities for teachers to </p><p>carry out both inside and outside of the classroom. The book </p><p>also contains coloring sheets for the younger students, and it </p><p>has instructions on how to begin a butterfly garden at the </p><p>school. These activities have the ability to invoke in the students </p><p>the desire to continue to take part or even lead environmental </p><p>activities within their community. This desire will not only span </p><p>the lifetime of the students, but can also be passed on from one </p><p>generation to the next. </p><p>An appreciation for nature does not stem from facts written in a </p><p>book. It is learned through experiences. One cannot understand </p><p>the true strength of nature until one feels its power for his or her </p><p>self. One cannot truly learn from nature, until one experiences </p><p>its true forces: never judge, never hold grudges, and forever </p><p>love. These are the lessons a community can learn from Mother </p><p>Nature. These are the lessons the students at Escuela Comuni-</p><p>taria de Arturo Jimnez can learn from interacting with nature. </p><p>The students know so much about the need and the role of the environment in our lives, but they have never truly been given the chance to interact with the en-vironment, to learn from it, and to gain a </p><p>respect for it on their own. </p></li><li><p> 8 </p><p>PUBLIC DISSEMINATION </p><p>The students culminating achievement after four months of working with non-profit organi-</p><p>zations in marginalized neighborhoods of Santiago, Dominican Republic, is their Public Dis-</p><p>semination. This is the opportunity they have to share the findings from their research to lead-</p><p>ers and members of their community organizations. This semester, our students conducted </p><p>community-based investigations on key topics such as Literacy, Environmental Education, Pub-</p><p>lic Health, and Rights of Children with Disabilities. </p></li><li><p> 9 </p><p>CAPSTONES AND TANGIBLE PROJECTS </p><p>Based on the community needs that students identified through their research </p><p>and community work, they collaborated with their organizations to create and </p><p>implement sustainable interventions to address these community issues. Their </p><p>Tangible Projects, along with their Capstones (the final written research reports), </p><p>are what they leave with their communities at the end of the semester. </p><p>Created resources for public health casework-</p><p>ers to lead community meetings with infor-</p><p>mation on the causes and symptoms of Hepa-</p><p>titis. </p><p>Kimiko KasamaJuan XXIII: </p><p>Provided classroom supplies, such as work-</p><p>books and reading materials to help after-</p><p>school instructors improve the literacy of </p><p>their students. </p><p>Victoria Ware </p><p>Nios con una Esperanza: </p><p>Developed a guide-</p><p>book of engaging activities to help make envi-</p><p>ronmental education more interesting and </p><p>part of the students daily academic life. </p><p>Erica ModesteOn Resp </p><p>Crafted a childrens picture </p><p>book for children with disabilities and their </p><p>families to learn about and develop ownership </p><p>over their rights as human beings. </p><p>Hannah CurrensFundacin </p><p>Cuidado Infantil Dominicano </p></li><li><p> 10 </p><p>Victoria Ware </p><p>Global Studies </p><p>When I was six or seven years old, I had a big problem in </p><p>school. You see, I had spent most of my before-school years </p><p>playing in the dirt and chasing around animals instead of being </p><p>in a classroom or hanging around some day-care center. Going </p><p>into kindergarten, the concept of things like letters and numbers </p><p>all seemed a bit bizarre to me. For me, reading was something </p><p>to dread. The other kids had no problems managing the words </p><p>that nearly always eluded me, and it was frustrating because it </p><p>just didnt click. Near the end of the school year, the teachers </p><p>finally decided I needed help and I began to attend a few spe-</p><p>cial education classes in a small...</p></li></ul>