This past summer I studied abroad in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It was a life changing experience for me. Although the Dominican Republic is considered by some to be a third world country it is a very beautiful country, the culture, food, music and people are amazing. The time I spent in the Caribbean superseded my expectations. I was nervous at first but could not imagine the effect that this summer would have on the rest of my life.
As a student at a community college, I did not always think that this trip would be possible. I thought an opportunity would only be available for students at a big university and that studying abroad would be too expensive. With the help of the Gilman Scholarship and financial aid, I was able to pay for the majority of the program and transportation cost. The Gilman Scholarship is a great way for students to achieve their goal of studying abroad. This scholarship is available to full-time students who are receiving the Pell Grant and are in good academic standing.
Also, I could not have made this trip without the help of Lorain Community College, Dr. Annouska Remmert and Virginia Biada. They were able to guide and assist me throughout this entire process. From the first day I arrived in Santo Domingo on June 2 until Aug. 3, my experience was filled with learning and excitement. It was a tremendous culture shock living in the Dominican Republic. I stayed with a beautiful Dominican family that provided me with home cooked meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I studied abroad through a program with ISA (International Studies Abroad) and attended one of the country’s top private schools, Universidad Iberoamericana. I studied abroad through a program with ISA (International Studies Abroad). As part of our international program we made excursions around the Dominican Republic, visiting Santiago, La Romana, San Cristóbal, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Sanoa Island. We visited beaches, caves, museums, plays, MLB offices, cruises, medical labs, hospitals and more.
My most memorable experience in Santo Domingo was not at the beach or inside of the classroom. I was fortunate enough to volunteer at an orphanage and two community centers. During the week I volunteered at the Ama a tu projimo orphanage. I tutored young children in math, English, Spanish, reading and writing. We had a lot of fun we played games and sang songs. Also I was able to help paint the orphanage. This was a humbling experience because these children did not have parents and they lived in impoverished conditions.
On Saturdays I volunteered at a community center named Comunitario La Mina. There we participated in many activities with the children, including playing games, singing, dancing, exercising, painting and more. On Sundays I volunteered at a community center called Centro Comunitario El Café. There, we worked with teenagers and adults by helping them with learning English. We practiced conversation and answered their questions about America.
I encourage every student at LCCC to take the opportunity and study abroad. If you are in need of financial assistance, the Gilman Scholarship is a great option. The next deadline to apply for the Gilman Scholarship is Dec. 15. If you need assistance with finding the right study abroad program you can contact Dr. Annouska Remmert in the International Students Service office. Her office is located in the PC building.