Posts filed under ‘University of Vermont’

Batey Libertad featured in new documentary

A new documentary by Fleischer Films entitled “Cane & Able: Hope in Hispaniola” highlights both the community gardening and HIV/AIDS prevention education projects at Batey Libertad.  The film explores the legacy and current conditions of bateyes in the Dominican Republic, communities originally developed as work camps in Dominican sugar plantations for Haitian migrants.  The two projects highlighted at Batey Libertad have grown out of collaborations between the community, the University of Vermont, and non-governmental organizations working in the Dominican Republic.  The first project developed with University of Vermont students and faculty and the NGO Seeds of Self Reliance, a group working in the DR and Haiti on building “community through gardening”.  To view a clip about the origins of the community farm, click on the YouTube video below.

A second project, also a collaboration with the University of Vermont, grew out of a pilot project with the international NGO Grassroot Soccer.  Today, Futbol para la Vida is an HIV/AIDS prevention education program based at Batey Libertad and working through a network of schools, NGOs, and communities in the Valverde and Puerto Plata provinces. To view a clip about the FPV program from the documentary project, click on the YouTube video below.

December 6, 2009 at 12:46 pm 2 comments

One World, One Health – New UVM service learning course to the Dominican Republic

Dr. Pat Erickson of the University of Vermont’s Animal Science Department will be leading a course entitled “Conservation Medicine in the Developing World: A One World, One Health Approach” to the Dominican Republic from March 5th through 13th. The course will be designed to understand the link between anthropogenic environmental change, conservation and the health of all species. Students will be participating in ongoing community projects at Batey Libertad, learning about ecological restoration research and projects of the Center for Sustainability of Punta Cana’s Ecological Foundation, and experiencing the rich biological diversity of the Dominican Republic.

Hispaniola, the Caribbean island which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti, is home to thousands of plant species, including 600 kinds of ferns, some 226 species of birds, more than 285 kinds of butterflies and 134 kinds of reptiles, including four species of marine turtles. Protecting this wealth is a challenge in any geographical area, and the pressure in the developing world is substantial. Our understanding of these unique problems can only come during direct contact with the people and species whose lives are so deeply entwined.

For more information, see the University of Vermont study abroad page, or contact Pat directly at

December 5, 2009 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

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.

For more information, see the University of Vermont study abroad page, or contact McKew directly at:

December 5, 2009 at 8:31 pm Leave a comment

World AIDS Day premiere of new documentary featuring Batey Libertad projects

Please join the University of Vermont travel-study program to the Dominican Republic and the Center for Health and Well-Being on World AIDS Day for the world premiere of:

Cane and Able: Hope in Hispaniola

Chittenden Bank Room (413), Davis Center
University of Vermont
Tuesday, December 1st at 4 p.m.

This new documentary by Fleischer Films highlights ongoing service-learning projects of University of Vermont students and faculty in Haitian migrant communities in the Dominican Republic, including a community farming initiative with Seeds of Self-Reliance and an HIV/AIDS prevention education program with Grassroot Soccer.  Following the film will be a short discussion with UVM faculty Jon Erickson (Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources), Pat Erickson (Animal Science), John Hayden (Plant and Soil Science), and McKew Devitt (Romance Languages) and current and past students from their Dominican Republic classes.

For more information on upcoming January and March faculty-led programs abroad to the Dominican Republic, see:

For more information on the event, please contact Jon Erickson at or 802-656-3328.

November 30, 2009 at 1:47 am Leave a comment

Soccer tournament and fundraiser a big success

While the shoes didn’t come off, and we played in the indoor tennis courts, the 5th Annual “Lose the Shoes” soccer tournament and fundraiser otherwise went off without a hitch despite the cold weather outdoors.  Thanks to Christina Newman and Devon Bryne for organizing what has quickly become a University of Vermont fall tradition.  And thanks to our sponsors, Boloco Burritos, Bruegger’s Bagels, and Eurosport for the good eats and prizes.  All proceeds supported the Futbol para la Vida HIV/AIDS prevention education program, a collaboration of Fundacion de Libertad.

Here’s a short video capturing the day’s events and tying the UVM event to the network of “Lose the Shoes” tournaments happening at college campuses around the country in support of Grassroot Soccer and affiliate programs.

October 4, 2009 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

5th Annual “Lose the Shoes” Tournament and Fundraiser to benefit Futbol para la Vida

Please join us for the University of Vermont’s 5th “Lose the Shoes” soccer tournament and fundraiser in support of Futbol para la Vida, an HIV/AIDS prevention education program in the Dominican Republic that is part of the international Grassroot Soccer network. This semester’s 3 v. 3 barefoot soccer tournament will be held on Sunday, October 4th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the University of Vermont campus. Join us on the intermural soccer fields near the Patrick Gym for some food, prizes, music and … of course … barefoot soccer. For more information or to pre-register a co-ed team, please get in touch with Christina Newman at If you need convincing that barefoot soccer is a good idea in Vermont in October, just check out picts from past UVM “Lose the Shoes” events: 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st.

September 29, 2009 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

4th UVM “Lose the Shoes” event part of nationwide fundraiser

On Sunday, April 26th, the University of Vermont hosted its 4th “Lose the Shoes” barefoot soccer tournament and fundraiser to benefit Futbol para la Vida, an HIV/AIDS prevention education project in the Dominican Republic and a member of the international Grassroot Soccer network.

The 3 v. 3 tournament missed the beautiful Vermont spring (a 1-day season) by just one day, but futbolistas braved the cold and the wind to play in four rounds of barefoot games, followed by found rounds of single elimination playoffs. The day included a raffle with prizes from Burlington businesses, music, pizza from Papa John’s, and of course a Grassroot Soccer demonstration.

Many thanks to all the UVM students, faculty, and alumni who played (including Achier who came all the way from Boston!). A special thanks to Christina Newman and Devon Byrne who organized the fundraiser. If you’re interested in getting involved with a “Futbol para la Vida” UVM student club and helping to organize our next barefoot tournament in the fall, please get in touch with Christina at

April 26, 2009 at 10:11 pm 1 comment

Older Posts


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9 other followers