March travel-study course to Batey Libertad
Join Professor McKew Devitt of the University of Vermont’s Department of Romance Language and Literatures for his fourth consecutive March travel-study class to the Dominican Republic. The class will help fund and build a house for a family in need; interact with Dominicans and Haitians on a batey in a community garden and on a soccer field; experience ecotourism at a natural water park; tour an organic shade-grown coffee farm; travel to the city of Dajabón on the Dominican-Haitian border on market day; visit the oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere; and learn the difference between merengue and bachata!
Through all of these activities the class will be observing and discussing some recurring themes: the construction of a national identity through cultural and historical manifestations; land use and immigration; racial tensions between Dominicans and Haitians; and the roles of tourists (and student visitors) and the possible positive and negative impacts tourism has on a society.
Prior to the trip students will be required to read and discuss various texts about Hispaniola, both fiction and non-fiction, including The Farming of the Bones by Edwidge Danticat and Why the Cocks Fight by Michele Wucker. These readings will provide a historical foundation on which to base observations during the trip. The course builds on past classes and student projects such as Fútbol para la Vida — an HIV/AIDS prevention education program piloted by a past UVM group — and a community gardening project seeded (literally) by UVM students and the NGO Seeds of Reliance. We will also continue a literacy project in the batey community which includes developing a library and a tri-lingual exchange.
Entry filed under: University of Vermont.