Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much does Encuentro Dominicano cost?
A. Encuentro Dominicano is the same cost as a semester at Creighton. It will have some additional expenses including the flight down to the DR and International Travel Insurance that costs $42/month. Past participants have found it necessary to bring spending money for travel, night life and souvenirs - although Encuentro does provide many opportunities to participate in activities at no cost.
Q. Where will we live in the Dominican Republic ?
A. You will live and eat most of your meals at the Centro de Educacion para la Salud Integral (CESI) or in English, the ILAC Center (Institute for Latin American Concern). The ILAC Center is located in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and is a non-profit Jesuit institution that houses volunteers to serve the rural areas of the Dominican Republic. The ILAC/CESI Center also has a church, and therefore it serves as the parish for the community around it. A separate ILAC Office is located at Creighton University in Omaha , Nebraska. The ILAC Office is part of Creighton University's Ministry Department, and its purpose is to coordinate the groups of American student and professional volunteers that go to the ILAC/CESI Center in the Dominican Republic to serve the rural Dominicans and Haitians.
The Center is a fenced in compound with a security gate and guard that is safe, clean, and extraordinarily beautiful. One must remember, though, that we are guests of a Roman Catholic MISSION, and that our behavior, (faculty, staff, and students) must always respect this fact.
Q. Is the Dominican Republic Safe?
A. Currently the US Department of State has no travel warnings against travel to the Dominican Republic. It is extremely safe if you are being a wise traveler, but just like in any foreign country, visitors must take caution. Encuentro participants live at the ILAC center, which is a guarded, enclosed area. Participants are also given a thorough orientation on how to stay safe when traveling outside of the center. The Academic and Student Life directors remain in contact with the US Embassy in order to stay informed about any incidents which may occur. In general, participants in all of ILAC's programs feel safe and at home in the Dominican Republic - otherwise, we wouldn't have so many people come back again and again!
Q. Can I cover my CORE requirements if I study in the Dominican Republic ?
A. YES!!! The new curriculum and program are specifically designed to make it easier for students of all majors and all colleges to participate. We will have a variety of Creighton professors traveling down to teach intensive three week courses as well as a variety of online courses that students can arrange with professors here at Creighton.
Q. What if I don't speak Spanish very well or at all?
A. Immersion is an amazing way to learn a language very quickly. If you are open and willing to try, language skills can vastly improve simply because you have to use them. While we encourage students to have completed at least one semester of college-level Spanish, exceptions can be made for those eager and willing to learn.
Q: What if I already have an advanced level of Spanish? Will I be challenged?
A. Yes! All of our students work with a Dominican professor from a local university who tailors his courses specifically to the level of the students. Students are divided into groups according to their Spanish level, and when necessary independent studies are arranged to ensure students are enabled to grow in their Spanish-speaking ability. Additionally, through service and immersions students are able to grow and adapt their Spanish as far as they choose to push themselves; whether through learning local slang, reading or creating documents in Spanish, or simply engaging in challenging conversations with the people they meet. Our on-site library also has many books in Spanish, both educational and recreational, to help expand vocabulary and fully immerse in the language.
Q. What is the philosophy behind Encuentro Dominicano?
A. Since the 32 nd General Congregaton of the Society of Jesus (1975), the Society has focused its mission on "the service of faith and the promotion of justice." In a talk given at Santa Clara University in 2000, the former General of the Jesuit Order, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, proposed that these two deliberately open phrases may be interpreted as meaning respectively, "the service of faith . . . [by bringing] the counter-cultural gift of Christ to the world," and the "justice of the Gospel which embodies God's love and saving mercy." Kolvenbach in his interpretation of this widely used phrase emphasizes Ignatius' desire to combine words with deeds. Social action in the name of the justice of the Gospel must be combined, he proposes, with much analysis and reflection. In 2003, Kolvenbach added the gloss that the promotion of justice needs to combine academic rigor with social activism.
In applying these principles to contemporary higher education in Jesuit universities, Kolvenbach proposes that students be educated in "solidarity for the real world," and "solidarity is learned through contact rather than through concepts [only]." "When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change. Personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection." Kolvenbach adds that "students, in the course of their formation, must let the gritty reality of the world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering and engage it constructively." Finally, he proposes that "insertion programs," "off-campus contacts" and "hands-on courses" at Jesuit universities should not be "too optional and peripheral, but at the core of every Jesuit university's program of studies."
Q. What is the Encuentro Dominicano chain of command?
A. In student life matters, Ms. Emily Marchese, Director of Student Life, will be responsible for major student life decisions relating to students. The Director of Student Life reports directly to Dr. Michele Bogard, Assistant Vice President for Student Life.
Regarding academic life matters, Ms. Margarita Dubocq, the Academic Director, will be responsible for all issues of an academic nature. The Academic Director reports to Dr. Sharon Ishii-Jordan, Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences.