Dominican Republic - Service Learning in Hispaniola: Childhood and Poverty - Winter Break 2014

Travel Dates: November 20 - 26, 2014

The Faculty

Jennifer McCreight: Instructor, Department of Education


The Courses

  • Spring 3-week 2014: EDUC 280: Social and Cultural Contexts of Childhood in Hispaniola (1 credit)


Background of this Program

Boca Chica is a city of about 50,000 people located about 30 kilometers from Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.  It is a tourist-oriented community with a long beach lined with modest hotels and restaurants.  Unfortunately, many of the local residents are in severe poverty. Among those who suffer the most are children.  Due to limited family resources, many children work on the street when they should be in school.  This is further complicated by the fact that a high proportion of the poor residents are of Haitian descent.  There is long standing enmity between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  Although this has been reduced somewhat recently, people of Haitian descent still experience prejudice and are marginalized.  This has particular impact on the children.  Although they may be born in the Dominican Republic, they are not recognized as citizens of that country.  Since they are not born in Haiti, they are not recognized as citizens of that country either.  Therefore, these children have no citizenship and no documentation.  This lack of documentation makes enrollment in school, access to social programs (like public health services), and regular employment very difficult or impossible.  As a result, Haitian children in the Dominican Republic grow up without access to the normal services that are expected from government, and the cycle of poverty and marginalization is perpetuated.  Many of the children end up on the street (some living there), and are exposed to violence, economic exploitation, drug use, and sexual exploitation.

Caminante is a local non-governmental organization focused on addressing the needs of disadvantaged children.   Founded by a Dominican nun in 1994, this organization provides support for children and families in the areas of education, legal advocacy, social support, job training (for young adults), and positive personal development.


The Program

The summer of 2011 marked the beginning of a very special relationship between Hiram College and Caminante, an NGO dedicated to helping impoverished children in the Dominican Republic.  Hiram students, staff, and faculty rolled up their sleeves and worked alongside Caminante on three service learning projects.

Given the incredible needs facing these children, the Hiram College community continued working with Caminante during the summer of 2012 and once again is eager to continue this partnership  with a new group of dedicated students.  If you are interested in learning about the impact of culture, poverty and society on childhood in Hispaniola, then consider this trip! If you are motivated to expand your knowledge, apply your skills, and selflessly serve the children of the Dominican Republic, then this is the study abroad experience for you!

While on the island, there are 3 main goals:

  1. interpret the knowledge gleaned from the preparatory courses on the cultural evolution of Hispaniola through the perspective of life in Boca Chica
  2. carry out each service team project with the utmost care, diligence, and dedication possible
  3. explore and appreciate the beauty and history that the Dominican Republic has to offer. 

The Travel

Departure will be from Cleveland, Ohio and arrival will be at Las Américas International Airport, the airport closest to Santo Domingo, the capital city, which is itself about 40 minutes from Boca Chica.

Estimated Program Costs

$2075: includes round-trip transportation, in-country transportation, all meals, housing, and group entrances.  Personal expenses, passport fees, and independent travel are not included.

A $75 non-refundable fee is due upon receipt of completed application.

Preference will be given to Spanish-speaking students and to those who have not previously been on this trip.

Application Deadline

September 2, 2014

For more information:



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