The Dominican Republic Study Abroad Experience is one of Tabor Business School’s many performance learning experiences. This study abroad trip is an immersion course taught by Dr. Larry Stapleton. The trip can act as an IN 350 or as MG 481 credit course, also known as “Doing Business in the Dominican Republic.” Dr. Stapleton is one of many credible professors that attends this trip in order to provide real business experience.
This trip took place in January 2017, and it lasted about eight days. During the fall semester of 2016, Dr. Stapleton taught a course that allowed students to do research and develop a problem-based project before traveling to the Dominican Republic. The class of about a dozen students divided up into three teams. Each team had an objective to focus on a problem that the Dominican faces. These teams were the water team, the health care team, and the education team. Each team had a unique experience but, this article outlines the experiences of the water team.
The water group’s efforts were focused on a small village in the rural, tropical hills of the Dominican called “El Mango Limpio”. Before the group arrived, this small village did not have access to clean running water and was dependent upon bottles of water being shipped in by truck. They had a well and reservoir, but the pump in the well was underpowered, outdated, and broken, while the reservoir had leaks. There were also concerns about the cleanliness of the water provided by the well. The water team developed a plan to replace the pump with an updated version that could provide water to the entire community, repair the leaks in the reservoir, and introduce the villagers to portable filters.
In addition to visiting El Mango Limpio, the trip included a few days at the beginning to visit Santo Domingo, the capitol of the Dominican Republic. Here students were able to learn more about the history and culture of the nation. The itinerary also allowed for a couple days at the end of the trip to experience the beautiful beaches of the Dominican. All three stages of the trip are shown in these pictures below:
Early in the week, the group enjoyed exploring a foreign and interesting city of Santo Domingo. Later in the week, the group focused on working with the villagers. For the students who had experience with the language, making small conversation was possible. Although, knowing Spanish is beneficial, there are translators on the trip that can help further communication. Fortunately, knowing some Spanish paid off for students that were tasked with simply explaining and demonstrating the use of the new filters to the villagers. To illustrate the effectiveness of the filters, students found muddy water from puddles and scooped it up in a bucket. Then they ran the water through the filter, into a bottle of water, and drank it in front of the group of villagers. It came out of the filter clear and that made our point that the water was safe to drink. The villagers now have access to clean water.
The next order of business was to install the pump and ensure it was pumping enough water into the reservoir to provide for the whole village. Through some math, science, and heavy lifting the group accomplished this. The video shows the team removing a pipe near the well as pressurized water came gushing out. Finally, students assisted the villagers in producing their own cement to patch holes in the reservoir. The villagers were intelligent and were always kind and welcoming. Differences aside, students were able to really connect with locals on a personal level, which can be seen in a segment of the video posted above. To see an aerial view of the region, download the link below.
Overall, the project went very well. Everything came together beautifully and after the project presentation, each group was able to enjoy a couple days at the end of the trip on the beach. Often times students enjoy the opportunity to explore a new culture and have the flexibility to work on the project. This trip exemplifies Millikin’s vision of development through performance learning.