Hiram College

Fourteen Hiram College students and five faculty members will depart campus on Monday, May 16 for a 16-day humanitarian and service learning experience in the Dominican Republic. Partnering with Caminante, an organization that works to educate and train impoverished Haitian and Dominican children, the Hiram contingent will lend their expertise to three service learning projects.

“After the earthquake in Haiti last year, many members of our community began to talk about what we could do as a community to help the people of that area,” said Associate Dean and Professor of History Rodney Hessinger who is one of the faculty members leading the trip. “In doing our research we found that working in Boca Chica will enable us to help the largest number of people while keeping our students safe.”

Hiram students and faculty will spend their time on the following service learning projects:

  • Hiram students and Associate Professor of Nursing Steve Merrill will conduct health assessments and develop health promotion strategies with the children of Caminante. Health records created by the work will be sent home with the children.
  • Assistant Professor of Biology and Chemistry will work with students to establish a sustainable science program by providing science lessons, practical lab experiments, and opportunities for hands-on engagement in a variety of science disciplines for children and teens.
  • Bill Filner, co-director of Hiram’s entrepreneurship program, will lead his students through a microfinance project designed to provide poverty relief to families in or close to extreme poverty with a goal of leaving Caminate staff members with the tools to teach people how to develop and manage revenue generating entrepreneurship programs.

“Our students have the opportunity to use the expertise from the academic field,” said Hessinger. “We’re not just doing manual labor. Our nursing students are getting hands on experience with the health assessments, our biology students are excited about develop science experiments that they can leave, and our entrepreneurship students feel as if they can make a real difference by developing successful microfinance projects.”

Participating students were required to take three courses in order to prepare for the program. A student blog will provide updates on the group’s experiences. It can be read here: http://walkingwithcaminante.blogspot.com/