Thursday, May 31, 2012

Supporting the 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.

Well, here I am writing another blog for InteRDom! First off, the basics about my employer: I am here as an InteRDom intern within the Social Community Projects department of Grupo PUNTACANA, a huge resort corporation (which includes two hotels, golf courses, water/power/security infrastructure, lots of restaurants, an ecological preserve, an outdoor shopping area and more). While being the very first resort in Punta Cana and spearheading the whole tourist industry in this region, Grupo PUNTACANA has taken it upon itself to contribute and improve the local communities through development projects in health, education, culture, sports and environmental protection.

The Veron Polytechnic School, created by Grupo PUNTACANA, is an example of a successful educational project. Within this tidy and well-run school, along with basic education classes for the youth of Veron, adult classes are also offered which give training in a variety of resort jobs. In other words, while Grupo PUNTACANA is contributing to the overall education of the local community, they are also contributing to their own workforce of resort employees. This is a melding of social corporate responsibility to the community and a responsibility for the fiscal growth of the company..

Taking a quick look at some other areas of community development/protection within Grupo PUNTACANA, we have the Ecological Foundation. This is extensively focused on and devoted to protecting the natural beauty of the environment. Their efforts toward protection of the flora and fauna and the marine and animal life is astounding, as is the vast amount of talented scientists and students who come here to study and contribute. Another aspect of Grupo PUNTACANA’s contributions is the local free health care clinic in Veron, which was completely renovated from a decrepit building to a clean and working clinic by Grupo PUNTACANA and now run in cooperation with the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VITCOM). VITCOM organizes “medical missions” in the community and supplies the medical staff within the clinic- again we see a huge amount of educated and valuable professionals coming to this region through the efforts of Grupo PUNTACANA. Everyone benefits: the local community gets better health care access, the VITCOM medical students gain experience and Grupo PUNTACANA receives a relatively healthier region for its tourists, as well as a stronger and healthier workforce.

As for my specific role within Grupo PUNTACANA as an intern, I deal with supporting the educational projects. Right now, we are building a new primary school and then improving the computer lab in an existing school. Because I am basically here as educated brainpower, I have a lot of freedom in my position to brainstorm ideas, suggestions and activities to supplement our projects. Besides the contributions I come up with as the days go by, my set responsibilities include creating a formal paper on the state of public education in this region through an extensive interview series (with local stakeholders) to understand the impact the new school will have on the community. Secondly, I am responsible for sitting in on the computer classes in the lab we will improve, and observe the teaching methods, computer programs used, and interviewing the teacher and students to find things we can make more efficient. I will also be collaborating with the local Peace Corps members here on an educational project, I will be giving a presentation to a local school on the importance of community development, and then contributing to a new statistical analysis of graduated students from a public school. I could go on and on describing the small tasks and activities I have, but there’s limited space here, so let me just say: my plate is quite full with a variety of engaging and fulfilling things!

My living situation here is quite nice. I live within the hotel grounds, in a clean and well-maintained little guest house about 3 minutes’ walk from the beach. It is breathtakingly beautiful in the “white sand beaches/turquoise sea/and warm, humid breezes” way that tourists all over the world seek. It really is paradise. Since I have arrived, my Spanish has improved a lot, but it is still difficult. One of my main preoccupations is figuring out how to still be a valuable intern without being perfectly fluent in Spanish, while energetically studying the language in my free time. So far, I have found many ways to contribute adequately, even without perfect Spanish, and it will only get easier as my Spanish improves.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Culture Shock

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.

Culture shock is a common occurrence affecting individuals studying abroad. It is important to prepare before you leave so that you are not caught off guard. Included below are suggestions for dealing with culture shock after you have arrived in the host country.


  • Read books, magazines, newspapers and watch television shows to begin to familiarize yourself with the country and its culture

  • Speak to students who have gone to this country, as well as natives

  • Attend study abroad information sessions and pre-departure orientations if available


  • Observe your surroundings, explore your immediate environment, try new foods

  • Try to not only observe cultural differences, but ask questions to try to understand WHY those things are different

  • Keep a journal

  • Contact your family and friends. Usually some knowledge of what’s taking place back home doesn’t make you feel as if you are left out.


  • After the arrival and observation process you should have settled in fairly well

  • Try making friends with natives in your class or other students on the same program as you

  • Explore more of the country with friends or on excursions available through the program

  • Try more foods and attend cultural activities.

  • This is your time to speak more of the language of the country, even if you are feeling insecure


  • Visit your favorite restaurants and attractions before you leave

  • Update your journal

  • Attend Fairs and Information sessions to assist prospective students

  • Keep in contact with the friends you made while abroad

The Caribbean should be one of your top study abroad choices; there is no doubt that you would have a life changing experience. Keep in mind that other persons are always eager to hear about your study abroad experiences, so don’t be afraid to get involved with organizations or activities on campus after you return home to share them.