Friday, April 27, 2012

Why the Caribbean?

By: Ludonis Maule
Ludonis Maule is a senior at Baruch College majoring in Entrepreneurship Management with a minor in Spanish. She has worked at Baruch College’s Study Abroad Office for the past three years where she advises students on their study abroad options and procedures, she has also coordinated several of the office's Study Abroad Fairs. This spring 2012 semester she is interning at InteRDom in the Marketing department.

Choosing a study abroad destination can be a challenge; and you may ask yourself, "why the Caribbean?"

The Caribbean is commonly known for its impeccable scenery and beaches, however it is important to note that there is more to offer. The Caribbean has a culturally rich history to be enjoyed; the variation in languages and accents are also interesting to observe.

The first colony of the Americas, Christopher Columbus touched down in the Dominican Republic before any other shore, and established the first city and the first university—among other things—in the “New World.” The historical heritage and colonial history are still obvious in the country today—from architecture to cultural identities to race relations. A country rich in culture, the DR occupys two thirds of the island Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti. Its booming tourism industry has made it a popular tourist attraction, but few people are aware of the accelerated economic development that the nation has experienced over the last 10-15 years. Its metropolitan areas are expanding and opportunities abound for students to make a contribution to the growing businesses looking to branch out into new areas and industries.

According to Dominicana Online, the country welcomes over three million visitors per year to its shores and it is known as the leading tourist destination in both the Central American and Caribbean region. With a variety of tourism models—from all-inclusive hotels to small boutiques to more sustainable eco-tourism initiatives—it is the perfect place for a student of tourism to study an industry leader. In addition to tourism, there are other sectors of the Dominican society which are appealing for students, including but not limited to: ecology and the environment, public health, urban planning, international relations, business and insurance.

Sports fanatics are not excluded. The Dominican Republic has also made a name for itself in the Baseball arena, with more Dominicans in Major League Baseball than any other nation outside of the United States. The Dominican Republic hosts baseball academies for dozens of teams and represents the Latin American recruitment hub for teams and the MLB headquarters alike.

The Dominican Republic offers an array of study and professional opportunities to students of virtually any area, so you should have no trouble finding an internship in your area of interest while immersing yourself in its unique culture.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Punta Cana Community

By: Anna Groesser
Graduate and Gap Year 32-week Program, 2012
You can read about Anna's internship with Grupo PUNTACANA on the InteRDom website here.

I’m now at the halfway point of my eight-month internship here in Punta Cana and there’s so much to talk about! For starters, I’d like to remark on the friendliness of most every employee I come in contact with on the hotel property. When I leave my casita in the morning and walk to the employee cafeteria, I probably pass on average about ten different employees, and it is extremely odd if even one does not look me in the eye and say hello or good morning. I am wearing my employee badge, so they know I am not a guest, and there is no need to try and impress me, yet they still give a hearty greeting. I am struck by this, even after living here for four months.

Right now, there’s a tranquil, humid rain coming down outside and as I listen to the sound, it reminds me of the current changing seasons. When I arrived, I felt it was quite warm and humid, but it has actually gotten more humid as the months have moved past the winter season. Being from Northern Michigan, I am dreading the hottest months of the year- July and August- but luckily I have AC in my casita as well as the office, so I know it could definitely be worse!

I was thinking I’d mention some things I do for fun, since I haven’t really talked about that. I’ve been here for a few months already and have made a small group of friends who are scattered throughout the Punta Cana region. I have a Dominican friend who works the reservation phone for Tortuga Bay (the luxury boutique hotel here) who I met on the bus going to Santo Domingo one weekend. I also am friends with the two local Peace Corps members who live right in the heart of the nearby Verón community. I’ve got random friends I see at the office during the day, and ones I eat lunch with Monday through Friday, plus the front desk hotel staff who I talk to quite often (as I spend a lot of free time in the lobby, using the wireless Internet). Anyway, for fun, I find myself visiting a nearby theater to catch a recent flick, or spending a weekend afternoon on the beach with a Peace Corps member or two, or organizing a group dinner at a friend’s casita or simply spending time alone, studying Spanish and watching movies on my computer. Sometimes I visit one of the jungle lagoons here for a quick swim, or I meet up with one of the Peace Corps volunteers in Verón (and I can really see how good I have it living at the hotel, since Peace Corps members live at the same income and lifestyle quality level as the locals!) There are a variety of hobbies I can take up here too- I can learn to dive at the dive shop and help them hunt the invasive species Lionfish in the coastal area, I can help at the PUNTACANA Ecology in one of their sustainable resources projects or I can spend a day volunteering at a local orphanage.

As for my work activities, these are just as varied as my free time activities. Specifically, one recent activity was extremely fulfilling- I spent a week with a large group of doctors and medical students and we set up makeshift clinics in the local community, and simply treated people as they came. I did a lot of patient flow management because we had to keep the huge crowd (plus the numerous kids underfoot) from milling about too much, wandering into different sectioned-off areas to curiously watching the examinations! I’ve also been working on the creation of a few different webpages for the PUNTACANA Foundation, and I am learning the public relations-related steps we need to take before these websites can be made official, since it represents the hotel corporation’s image. And just recently, I co-managed a group of VIP tourists from the U.S. for a couple hours. They were interested in seeing the free local clinic and one of the local schools that the PUNTACANA Group created. This was a lot of fun, since it involved my direct supervisor Margarita and I acting as a close-working team during the tour, and we both received a hearty applause at the end as the group thanked us for our leadership that day!

Friday, April 13, 2012


By: Ludonis Maule
Ludonis Maule is a senior at Baruch College majoring in Entrepreneurship Management with a minor in Spanish. She has worked at Baruch College’s Study Abroad Office for the past three years where she advises students on their study abroad options and procedures, she has also coordinated several of the office's Study Abroad Fairs. This spring 2012 semester she is interning at InteRDom in the Marketing department.

Most employers appreciate students who are engaged in other positive activities outside of academics. International academics or work experience is also very appealing to employers. This international experience will be more valuable to a firm which operates worldwide. More than likely, you will have some knowledge about another country’s culture which may be useful for business. This increases your marketability as an employee.

A Global HR News study revealed that nearly three in four (73%) HR executives cited study abroad as an essential element when evaluating the resume of a potential job candidate for a junior-level position. According to Experience Inc., studying abroad is valued by employers because the individual is viewed as being:
  • Culturally aware

  • Flexible and tolerant

  • Sensitive to and accommodating of other cultures

  • Independent and Mature

Based on this information, an individual who studied abroad is already attributed qualities from the international experience listed on his/her resume even before they sell themselves verbally in the interview. This study abroad experience can be listed several places on your resume. It can be placed under educational experience including the school you attended, its location along with any course work completed. If the program has an internship component it can be listed under work experience.

Once your study abroad experience has been placed on your resume, you should be prepared to speak about it in an interview. Some interviewers will ask about it directly but others may not. However, you should try to incorporate your time abroad, the skills you acquired, the lessons you learned and the cultural sensitivity you developed into the interview in some way. It is important to emphasize that you did not just go overseas to have a good time, but you learned important things that are applicable to your professional life. For example, learning to think outside of the box, consider new and different viewpoints and be more independent and/or work in a team are all important skills you may have developed while abroad which should be emphasized.

As we all know, a great command of a second language is becoming even more vital to the globalized business world. Hence, the opportunity to study and speak the native language of another country should be seized in order to increase your professional marketability. While learning and practicing the language, you are inherently immersing yourself in a country’s culture. This is another reason why studying abroad is important; one has a better chance of experiencing and understanding a culture at its fullest when they are entirely immersed. We tend to be more appreciative and more open minded when we experience other cultures first-hand.

Studying abroad is not only a cultural experience, but it provides you with qualities which, if marketed properly, can be a major attraction for future employers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

From a Dream to a Reality

by: Amber Brookmire
Amber Brookmire studies Anthropology at The City College of New York. She hopes to participate in InterDom’s service-learning program this June to further develop her cross-cultural studies and improve Spanish language proficiency.

I first heard about the InteRDom service-learning program through The City College Study Abroad Office. I had always wanted to study abroad during college, but I didn’t think it was a financial possibility for me. I began to research more information and was amazed by all that I could gain, personally and academically, from the Dominican Republic service-learning program. As a senior, I realized this could be my last chance to have this experience. So, I sat down with the advisers in the Study Abroad Office to discuss financial aid and scholarship opportunities. I left their office with various scholarship applications and lots of encouragement, confident that my dream could become a reality.


The combination of homework, applications and work was difficult to manage at first, but I made a clear checklist of what needed to be done and prioritized by deadlines. I also made sure to attend one of InteRDom’s information sessions in the Study Abroad Office on campus, which was very helpful for completing my application. Mandy, a representative of InteRDom, gave a presentation that highlighted the different aspects of the program. I gained a better understanding of the application process and what to expect from my experience abroad. I also learned more about the classes I would be taking and the specific internship project I would be a part of – sustainable urban agriculture! I was very excited to find out that the internship is tailored to each student’s skills and interests.

Ana and Jenny, two students who participated in the program last summer, were also at the meeting to share their experiences and answer questions. It was nice to hear about the experience from a peer’s perspective because it gave me a sense of what the program will be like as a student. I had a chance to chat with them after the presentation and their enthusiasm was truly inspiring. I was glad to have attended the info session because it was very informative and gave me an opportunity to ask questions and discuss my concerns.

I anticipate that the program will be an exciting opportunity to develop useful skills and learn in a unique way. I believe that cross-cultural immersion is an important part of shaping character. If I am able to participate in the program, I am confident that it will be both personally and academically beneficial.