Rather than returning home for the upcoming winter
break, or taking a Winterim course, 13 Plymouth State University students will travel to the Dominican Republic to volunteer at a local orphanage January 8-15, 2005.
The first international service trip for PSU Volunteers is coordinated through the university’s Community Service Learning Center (CSLC).
Whitney Howarth, assistant professor of history at Plymouth State, is faculty advisor for the trip and has been meeting with the students since October.
She says, “I’m most looking forward to watching the life-transforming experience students will have as they participate in service abroad. Having had the
chance to work with underprivileged populations in developing countries myself, I know that it can be an intense experience, at many levels. I’m
looking forward to sharing that experience with my students.”
Also accompanying the students are Angela Ricciardi, adjunct faculty in English, and Mary Ellen Wargo of the Spirituality and Reflection Center.
Working with the non-profit organization Orphanage Outreach, the students will teach English and other subjects to orphaned children in Monti Christi.
Dan DeSantis, a senior communication studies major from Warwick, R.I.
says, “Together, the international service group is extending the
giving hand of the Plymouth State community and the community service
volunteers that our school is so well known for. I am sure that we will
leave a positive reputation both for ourselves and the university in
the Dominican Republic when we return.”
PSU will now be added to the list of more than 90 U.S. colleges and
universities who aid Orphanage Outreach, which was founded in 1995.
Emily Dowd, a junior from Dover, Mass. says, “As a childhood studies
major, I have always loved working with children, however I have never
had the opportunity to work with children of another country. I know
this will be the opportunity of a lifetime.” She adds, “By providing
information about the children of the orphanage for the PSU campus and
community, I hope to open the minds of many more students.”
The trip costs will be at least $1,000 per participant which was raised
through fundraisers, financial sponsors and personal donations made by
the participants. The students raised about $2,500 during a silent
auction at Family Weekend in October that included tickets to Red Sox
and Patriots games.
Students began planning the trip with the CSLC in Spring 2004 and have
been meeting weekly since September. In addition, they also met with Dr. Michael Fischler, professor of education, to discuss
international travel concerns such as cultural sensitivity.
“Although the Dominican trip will be a new frontier for all of us, I am
prepared for nothing less than a great time with some wonderful people
all working together to make a difference in the lives of those who
need us,” concludes DeSantis, who has participated in PSU Alternative
Spring Break service trips twice in the past.
For more information, contact Nancy Conklin, coordinator of Plymouth
State’s CSLC, (603) 535-3026.