I recently returned from the Dominican Republic with some of my classmates and teachers from the Community Development Work Program. The purpose of the trip was to study community-based tourism in economic community development. Before having this experience, I had a very shallow idea of how these two areas were connected, however after returning, I feel as though I have a much deeper understanding not only of what we learned while abroad but how to connect my experiences to the work that we are doing here in Toronto.
We had the opportunity to participate in many of the tourist activities in Puerto Plata. Puerto Plata suffered a major crash in their economy after the wave of tourists who were coming in for the resorts dissipated. Their goal is to redesign tourism based on natural assets, in a way that supports their local economy, and directed focus to one of their most incredible assets; the mountains.
We were allowed to participate in many of the tourist activities that have recently opened, such as a cable car ride to a beautiful mountain top above the clouds, hikes through the mountainside and rivers, visiting and swimming in beautiful natural springs and waterfalls, planting coffee plants and many other unforgettable experiences.
Near the end of the trip, we were able to apply the knowledge and skills that we have gained throughout the year, as well as from lectures and presentations that we participated in during our time in the Dominican Republic.
I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a valuable experience. I made so many deep connections to my peers, our local partners, and the country. I came back with a brand new perspective on community development work and the value of community. We became a family on this trip and I am so happy to say that I have made lifelong friends who I was fortunate enough to share this incredible experience with.
Returning to Toronto and getting back school, I am so excited to share my experiences and everything that I learned with my classmates, and I feel that I have so much more to share and to put into my work in the future whether it is during class, placements or my future after graduating from Centennial.
Overall, it was such an amazing and valuable experience and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to participate in such a meaningful program!