The University of Findlay’s Oilers Serving Abroad travels to the Dominican Republic for a service-based trip three times a year: winter break, spring break and summer break. The group did something different during this summer trip when they collaborated with Associate Professor of Biology Ben Dolan, Ph.D.
Eleven students participated in a service-learning course to study the natural history and conservation of the Dominican Republic. When the students traveled to the Dominican, they not only participated in serving and helping the local community, but also spent time learning about the ecology and species in that location.
They left on May 5 and stayed for 10 days in an orphanage in Barahona. Besides painting at the orphanage, the group also spent a day helping at the batey, a Haitian village, where they built a community latrine and a concrete floor for a family.
They also took trips to Santo Domingo, La Descubierta, Lago Enriquillo, San Rafael Beach and UCATEBA, a private university. During their ecology studies the group learned about the culture, native habitats, species, and more in the various cities.
The group also attempted the “Caribbean Challenge” in the Sierra de Bahoruco. This challenge was a seven-mile hike up to the peak of a mountain through desert-like conditions to see high-elevation pine forests. The hike was led by naturalist, Cesar Cacares, who works with the Ornithological Society of Hispaniola to increase awareness of the Jaragua-Lago Enriquillo-Sierra de Bahoruco National Park, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Students who went said it was a memorable moment and a great bonding experience that also enabled them to learn about the mountain’s ecology firsthand.
“The most rewarding part of the program is getting to interact and build relationships with individuals that you would have never met before,” said Dallas Smith, a fifth-year pharmacy student. Smith had been to the Dominican six times before this past summer’s trip.
Jackie Drake had also been to the Dominican on a previous service trip with Oilers Serving Abroad. Currently a fourth-year occupational therapy major, Drake says she would highly recommend the trip to a friend.
“OSA is an incredible group that allows you to travel to a developing nation, experience their culture, meet new friends, and be able to serve those in need. It’s truly a life-changing opportunity that I would want everyone to experience,” expressed Drake.
Oilers Serving Abroad has already selected students for their December trip, but applications for the spring and summer trips will be coming up as those travel dates get closer. For more information about Oilers Serving Abroad contact Dallas Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.