Principles into Practice: Community Development Work Students FLIP to the Dominican Republic

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Faculty Led International Programs (FLIPs) are a unique learning approach that was implemented at Centennial College early this year. As our first engagement the FLIP model of approaching international learning experiences, members of our Community Development Work program visited the Dominican Republic during Student Engagement week this past Winter 2017 semester.  Nine students from the Community Economic Development (CED) course and two faculty members visited the region of Puerto Plata to learn about an emerging tool of economic development referred to as Community-Based Tourism. This FLIP has provided an opportunity to our students to look at CED through an international context and apply theoretical knowledge in new intercultural settings.

DSC_3783During the trip, students stayed in the Tubagua Eco-Lodge (www.tubagua.com) and visited various tourist places and social enterprises such as the historical Mount Isabella, the Damajagua 27 waterfalls, the Pedro Garcia Coffee Plantation and Production, and a an Amber Mine location with local artisans and artisan products. We also enjoyed a handful of key note guest speakers come to share their stories of building community organizations throughout the region into a coalition to address the needs of local people along with their motivations to engage a community development strategy that would help them address and improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of their region and the communities that compose it. One of those guests included a band of Merengue musicians, Community activists in their own right, recounting the history and origins of Merengue music and the power it has to invigorate and unite the locals in celebration of their unique cultural and traditions.

Our students received not only a wonderful experience from all these community-led tourism programs, but also applied their classroom learning, namely the 13 principles of Community Economic Development, to assess the Strengths, Weakness and Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of each tourist program. After each day of field work, students participated in the SWOT analysis all for the purpose of preparing a report on the experience to send to the Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Puerto Plata.

Here are the 11 Principles of CED our students used as a lens to integrate their experiential learning into the application of CD in action:

FLIP 4

Our students and faculty would like to thank Centennial College for giving us such a wonderful learning experience. We would like to thank Jennifer Woodill, Chair Community Services for her encouragement, and the office of Global Citizenship and Education team for their support. We also appreciate the great cooperation of Tim Hall who hosted and coordinated our visit in Puerto Plata.

This is our first blog on the FLIP in Dominican Republic. Our students and faculty will be sharing their stories and experiences in the next few blogs. Please stay tuned!

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Blog written by:

Hasan Mahbub, Faculty; & Rachel Larabee, Program Coordinator, Community Development Work Program. Centennial College.
Photography: Hasan and FLIP Team.
For more information, please contact: mhasan@centennialcollege.ca & rlarabee@centennialcollege.ca

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