Indiana Daily Student

Short-term study abroad program created

A month-long study abroad opportunity in the Dominican Republic was designed specifically for students who may not have time to participate in a semester- or year-long trip.

The program will run from May 11 to June 11.

“With this program, students can still have the rest of their summer for an internship or for the second session of summer school at IU,” said Erik Willis, a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Willis and Luciana Namorato, a professor in the same department, will teach the two classes — six credits altogether — that make up the travel course.

To be eligible for the trip, an IU student must be a Spanish major or minor who has taken S280 and received a B or better.

The application also requires two letters of recommendation and a statement from the student.

“The program was developed so that it was taught by IU faculty so credits can transfer without any problem,” Willis said.

Many students who went on last year’s trip said their Spanish skills improved as a result. 

Dominican Spanish is its own of Spanish, Willis said.

“It would be like an English speaker listening to an English cockney accent or going to the French quarter in Louisiana,” Willis said.

Willis said students had some trouble with the language barrier at first, but overall they were able to communicate with the locals.

“We were required to get our own taxis and had class projects that asked us to interview the people of the Dominican,” senior Pearl Scott said in an email.

Junior Ashley Detzner said she gained confidence in her Spanish after the trip.

“Before this trip, I always felt uncomfortable speaking in front of people who were good enough at Spanish to hear every mistake I made,” Detzner said in an email. “But being places smack dab in the middle of a bunch of Dominicans, I learned really quickly that the only way to get better was to just practice.”

Classes are four days a week, and about two out of four days are workshops, exhibitions or field trips, Willis said.

There is also an excursion every weekend.

“We got to climb waterfalls, see Captain Kidd’s shipwreck while we were snorkeling and swim in an underground cave,” junior Ariel Magallon said in an email. “We also visited numerous beaches, kayaked through mangroves and got to eat some amazing food.”

There is a service learning component that Willis said he believes was one of the most meaningful aspects of the trip.

“Playing with children in an after-school program designed to keep them from dropping out to pick from the city dump with their parents is not an experience many people are privileged enough to have,” Detzner said. “It was certainly eye-opening.”

Senior Tyler Cotman said he gained the most from the relationships he made.

“The most meaningful part of the program for me was the relationships I made with my host family and the other students,” Cotman said in an email.

Magallon also said the people she met was the most rewarding part of the trip.

“I loved the excursions we took each weekend and all of the places we got to see, but what I will always hold closest in my heart are the conversations that I had and the time that I spent with my host family, neighbors and friends,” Magallon said. “It made it very hard to leave once the four weeks came to an end.”

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