A Brief History
The Law School's Dominican Republic Trips, initiated in 2002 and 2003 by Professor Larry Raful, were conducted under the auspices of Creighton's ILAC office, and took place over spring break week.
When Professor Raful left Creighton Law in 2004, Professor Ron Volkmer, who accompanied Professor Raful on his trips in 2002 and 2003, sought to re-institute the Law School's connection to ILAC, with a specific goal in mind.
Professor Volkmer had been inspired by the words of Fr. Kolvenbach, Superior-General of the Society of Jesus, who, in his landmark Santa Clara speech to Jesuit educators, challenged the teachers at Jesuit institutions in declaring that:
Personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity which gives to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection... Students must let the gritty reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its sufferings and engage it constructively. They should learn to perceive, think, judge, choose and act for the rights of others, especially the poor and the oppressed.
Professor Volkmer felt that an immersion experience to a developing country such as the Dominican Republic could lead students to moral reflection in an Ignatian Spirituality context if the students were properly selected, motivated and prepared.
The Law School program has always included a wide variety of experiences that make in unique.
The foremost goal of the experience is to have students exposed to all aspects of Dominican culture. This is accomplished by field trips in and around Santiago, that includes the barrio of Cienfuegos, an office combatting domestic violence, the cultural center, and the local Catholic university (PUCCM).
Trips are also taken to the border of Haiti (Dajabon), bateys near Santiago, and to the north shore. The trips have usually concluded with a visit to the Capitol of Santo Domingo where students have had the opportunity to meet with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General. Students have visited three different Dominican jails as well as visits to three campesino communities where the students have performed service projects.
In 2010 and 2011 Professor David Weber volunteered to join Professor Volkmer as a faculty co-sponsor for the trips. In January of 2011 Professors Weber and Volkmer were able to add two new experiences for the students: an overnight stay in a campesino community and a visit to a Trappist Monastery outside of Jarabacoa.
The Law School immersion trips are based upon the underlying goals for which the ILAC program was founded: "to promote the integral well-being and spiritual growth of all of its participants."
The ILAC Center in Santiago, which serves as the students' home for one week, is best described by a sign that directs travelers to "MISION ILAC."
Since the core of the experience is about "spiritual growth," the students spend time in reflection and prayer in the St. Omer Chapel at "MISIÓN ILAC."
The Jesuits in residence at "MISIÓN ILAC" have led the students in reflection and prayer, asking them to reflect on their shared experiences and to discern how they might be, in their professional careers, in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed.
From 2006 to 2011 some fifty students have made this amazing "journey of faith" and, for some, it has been, in their words, a "life changing experience." These are students who have let the "gritty reality of this world" into their lives with the result that they, in the best tradition of the Jesuit Volunteers Corps, have become "ruined for life."