The mission of Student Life in the Encuentro Dominicano program is to enhance the students' academic learning with the purpose of creating a safe and healthy environment as well as an encompassing experience that cultivates a profound sense of self-awareness, cultural mindfulness, meaningful spirituality, and a reflective understanding of social responsibility.
During the first week of the program, students will participate in orientation sessions that introduce them to life at ILAC and in the Dominican Republic. During this orientation, we will discuss program rules, cultural norms, living in community, and health and safety precautions. The intention of this week is to provide students will all of the information they will need to stay safe and healthy throughout the program, and also to begin to explore their deepest selves and their roles in a global community.
Throughout the semester, Student Life serves as a resource for students in all areas of life; understanding cultural differences, handling physical and emotional stresses and mediating community needs. The Student Life Director accompanies students on all academic trips and on both campo immersions in order to ensure health and safety and also help process and understand these experiences within their cultural context. The Student Life Director also serves as a link to resources in Santiago and back at Creighton, and through these connections is able to connect students with whatever support they may need while in the Dominican Republic.
Before returning home upon the end of the program, students are given another "ReOrientation" to prepare for the adjustment back to life in their home communities. The goal of Student Life is to give Encuentro Students the understanding necessary to return as a part of a larger community that will continue to push and support them.
All students studying abroad must be prepared for differences in their health that may occur throughout the semester. Encuentro students are extremely lucky for their relationship with the ILAC/CESI Center, and therefore for their access to some of the best physicians in the Dominican Republic.
Students are given a full orientation about health and safety, and are often reminded of precautions they can take to stay healthy in Santiago and during our campo immersions. Student Life for Encuentro Dominicano has also created a Health and Safety Guide for students and parents to help prepare for a healthy time abroad and a healthy return.
The vast majority of Encuentro Students stay healthy and happy throughout the duration of their time in the DR. However, in the case that a student does become sick, the Student Life Director will assist the student in finding the appropriate care and accompany the student to any medical consults or laboratory analyses. In the case of an emergency, the student will be taken by the Student Life Director to HOMS Hospital - a first class private hospital located in Santiago.
In order to help students fully immerse into Dominican culture, Student Life provides free excursions and activities in which students can choose to participate. In the past, cultural activities have included:
Student Life also provides activities on Thanksgiving, Easter Sunday and Halloween, in order for students to feel more at home in their host country and share their home culture.
Volleyball games and dances with the ILAC/CESI staff help create bonds and form relationships with our friends and family here at the center, as well as help students with Spanish and give a greater glimpse into Dominican life.
The semester includes two academic breaks, and students are free most weekends. This allows them to travel throughout the country and get to know all that the DR has to offer. Check out what past Encuentro students have enjoyed!