Friday, June 17, 2011

Service Learning in Batey Libertad

By: Cynthia So
Executive Director, Yspaniola

Batey Libertad has seen its share of visitors. Youth from the batey are adept at using Facebook and have accumulated friends from across the world. Students are motivated to learn English, knowing they can practice their skills each time a group comes to visit. More importantly, over the years Batey Libertad has benefitted from community development projects that have provided colorful cement homes, latrines, better roads, community centers, potable water, and scholarships for education. Service-learning programs have provided mutual benefit for both groups visiting the batey, as well as for the community.

Batey Libertad is unique in many ways, making it an ideal destination for travelers who wish to experience a different side of the Dominican Republic. The community has been overwhelmingly receptive to visitors. Families welcome visitors into homes, share meals and stories, and build friendships across cultural lines. Over the years, leaders have developed within the community, helping to facilitate the logistics of trips and homestays, and working to maintain a safe and welcoming environment within the batey.

Yspaniola is a non-profit that seeks to provide enriching service-learning experiences for individuals who wish to visit the bateys. Yspaniola initially developed from a service-learning trip led by undergraduate students from Yale to Batey Libertad in 2005. The students were inspired by their experiences in the batey and wanted to continue a productive partnership with the community. By collaborating directly with community leaders and residents, we ensure that projects are valued and needed within the batey, and that they can be sustained after groups leave the community.

Friday, June 10, 2011

InteRDom Blog Has a New Look

Over the past couple of years, InteRDom Internships in the Dominican Republic has grown, expanded and changed much like the world that we live in. The simple “student experience” format of the former blog no longer reflected the multiple facets of the program. More than just a simple internship and academic study program, InteRDom now has a number of projects and collaborations promoting international intellectual exchange and the economic development of a spectrum of sectors in the Dominican Republic. A couple of these programs are:

Internship Supervisor Certification Seminar— An innovative training program designed to capacitate directors and employees of Dominican and international organizations interested in implementing new internship programs or in improving existing ones in their respective companies or institutions. Its content is developed by InteRDom staff members and consultants, and the program is given approximately three times a year in the Dominican Republic. This program ensures a successful internship experience for both interns and organizations.

Fellows ProgramInaugurated in 2010, the Fellows Program seeks to develop a community of scholars that contributes to the Foundation’s growing body of research on matters of international concern that directly impact the Dominican Republic. In the Fellows Program, Master’s and PhD candidates travel to the Dominican Republic through InteRDom to conduct high-level research on issues at the forefront of the United Nations agenda in order to give voice to national and regional concerns and to offer viable solutions to domestic and international challenges. Fellows that carry-out exemplary work have the opportunity to present their findings before the United Nations community on behalf of GFDD.

“Expert in the Spanish Caribbean” and other short programsIn an effort to respond to the specific needs of universities, to encourage graduate and undergraduate students to deepen their learning and research on Caribbean issues and to aid teachers and professors in the internationalization of their curriculum, InteRDom has begun to develop short programs to respond to specific proposals presented by universities and centers. The programs run from 1 – 4 weeks based around specific subjects and themes. Some topics explored in 2011 include: the Dominican Carnaval, political science, service-learning, Colonial Latin America and its effects on modern Dominican identity and Spanish language immersion. The concept of Expert in the Spanish Caribbean is the result of the desire of the program to specialize its program offering and to generate a culture of exchange. The short programs complement the vision of InteRDom’s parent institutions Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundacion Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE) to generate innovative programming and conversation around issues relevant to the region.

InteRDom wants the new look and content of the InteRDom blog to reflect these themes, as well as other topics related to our work, such as international education, global business practices, career development strategies, Dominican and Caribbean issues and cross-cultural awareness. The contributors to this blog are not only InteRDom staff members, but friends of the program, collaborators, program alumni, current students and experts and professionals in a number of fields. It is our hope that the things posted here will inspire lively debate and increased interest in intellectual exchange and the development of Hispaniola.

InteRDom is receiving thoughtful proposals from contributors who would like to share their stories, experiences and information about these and other topics. If you would like to contribute, please send a draft to