ULM community assists Dominican Republic

Kassidy Taylor, Copy Editor

Two communities merged Saturday, April 8 when students from all four ULM colleges arrived in the Dominican Republic for a cross-college service learning experience. 

During this trip, students from varying programs had the unique opportunity to implement what they have learned in class into real-world situations within professional settings, all the while providing service to as well as gaining knowledge from Dominican citizens. 

Faculty members planned and also took part in the trip. This allowed faculty to see some of their students in action, grow stronger relationships with them and aid their learning throughout the experience. 

“It was life-changing for my students and me. I was able to share a rare moment with my students that exposed the power of a healing touch,” assistant professor of physical therapy Ashanti Jones said. 

In Cienfuegos, the group was able to work with Abba’s House Children’s Center. 

There, pharmacy, kinesiology and physical therapy students worked with patients at the Center’s medical clinic and made home visits. Social work students also visited the homes of the Center’s children to collect information for a Dominican Republic governmental report. 

While aiding the Center’s children and the community, many students gained connections and bonded with the locals. A third-year pharmacy student, Antoinette Leo, enjoyed growing relationships by helping those in need in the area. 

“Even though we did not speak the same language or come from the same culture, we were never made to feel like outcasts; in fact, they treated us like family,” Leo said. 

While in Santiago, the students worked alongside professionals in their area of study. A third-year pharmacy student, Logan Dugas, spoke directly to doctors, pharmacists and patients of the community on their health-related needs. 

“This opened my eyes to the health disparities of the country,” Dugas said. 

Not only did pharmacy, kinesiology and physical therapy students get to work in local hospitals and clinics, but also political science students met with local officials while social work students learned how social workers in the area handle local social problems.

ULM faculty plan for future service learning trips in conjunction with the area. 

“We hope this will be the beginning of a long-term partnership with the community in Santiago where we can learn from one another and work together to address local challenges,” clinical assistant professor of pharmacy Hanna Rotundo said.