University of South Carolina

Students travel to the Dominican Republic to study higher education


Eighteen graduate students in Carolina's Higher Education and Student Affairs Program returned to the University from Spring Break with more than just a tan after taking part in a study abroad experience in the Dominican Republic.

The students observed the Dominican Republic's higher education system, its policies, and practices, by participating in meetings and lectures with host university faculty and students.

The intent of the experience was to develop a basic understanding of societal issues in the host community while comparing and contrasting the Dominican culture with American culture.

"When students go to another country they see how another system of higher education operates and they come back and look at their own system with a newer perspective, realizing that as good as it may be, there are perhaps things that could be different," said Christian Anderson, the assistant professor of higher education and student affairs who accompanied the students on their Dominican Republic experience.

Christian Anderson
Christian Anderson

"They also understand how much culture affects higher education and that it doesn't exist in a vacuum."

An additional benefit of the trip, said study abroad advisor Sarah Langston, is that it allowed students to develop a better understanding of their own country's culture and how it relates internationally to the world.

"Students also learn adaptability and flexibility," said Langston, adding that an advantage of conducting a study abroad experience in the Dominican Republic is that it is close and affordable. "We didn't want to travel too far, and Christian Anderson had contacts with university staff members and faculty there that facilitated the trip."

Students visited local universities for lectures and meetings, including the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC), Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (Santo Domingo and Santiago campuses) and the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo.

Students also met with the minister and vice minister of education, Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona, and Rafael González, respectively, and went on excursions and tours to historic sites around Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic, including the site of the first university in the Americas.

While abroad, each student worked individually on a project related to higher education in the Dominican Republic. Topics included its history, student mobility, government policy, faculty issues, finances, and student life.

Students had the opportunity to meet in groups and individually with faculty members, administrators, government officials, students, or others with whom they could discuss their projects.

Carolina offers a multitude of study abroad experiences for its students, said Langston, noting that another USC student group from the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management also visited the Dominican Republic during Spring Break.

During the Maymester and summer, Carolina students will take part in USC-sponsored study abroad programs in Tanzania, Costa Rica, Germany, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, England, Ecuador, Germany, and Taiwan.

Posted: 04/14/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 04/14/10 @ 4:46 PM | Permalink