Tarleton students provide nearly 400 hours of service in Dominican Republic

Fifteen students from Tarleton State University traveled to the Dominican Republic, May 11-18, where they participated in a weeklong service-learning trip with peers from Escuela Ambiental. Pictured are Tarleton students and faculty during an outdoors lesson led by forest rangers at Salto de Jimenoa near Jarabacoa.

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STEPHENVILLE (June 4, 2015) — Fifteen Tarleton State University students recently returned from a weeklong trip to the Dominican Republic where they provided 375 hours of environmental sustainability-focused service with peers from Escuela Ambiental, a national environmental resources and sustainability school.

Sponsored by Tarleton’s Student Success and Multicultural Initiatives (SSMI), the trip provided service-learning opportunities for the all-female entourage. The student volunteers planted a campus garden, painted trash barrels, created a water garden and assisted with removal of invasive plant species.

The service-learning trip, led by associate professor of communication Dr. Lora Helvie-Mason, director of Tarleton’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, and Dr. Brenda Faulkner, director of Student Success programs, was designed as a hands-on academic experience and ecotourism initiative through EF Tours.

This marks the third year of service-learning efforts in the Dominican Republic for the Office of Diversity & Inclusion within the SSMI area at Tarleton.

“This year is the first time the Intercultural Communication course was partnered with the Social Psychology course, which led to a rich cultural dialogue while the students were in the Dominican Republic and after they arrived back in the U.S.,” said Helvie-Mason.

“My favorite project was painting barrels that will be placed around town to help stop pollution in a more artistic manner,” said junior communication studies major Klarissa Perez. “We learned to be more grateful about the way we live, because students from Escuela Ambiental were so humble and hardworking.”

Randi Morgan, a junior majoring in communication studies, said the opportunity to travel with fellow students to a foreign nation allowed a deeper understanding of social issues its citizenry faces and the global connections.

“As issues in the Dominican Republic are reflected upon,” she said, “it becomes apparent that these issues, such as unsanitary water, are not South American or North American issues, they are world issues.”

To learn more about SSMI, visit www.tarleton.edu/ssmi.

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