FLIP; Dominican Republic Experience (Part 2)

DAYS ONE, TWO, THREE AND FOUR

We landed in Puerta Plata/Dominican Republic on the last inbound aircraft in La Aeropuerto, on route to our lovely Eco-Lodge in the serene hills of Tubagua. The immense culture shock was felt in a profound way. Rustic, natural, open, sentimentally attached bungalows were our home. Not many amenities we were used to back in the suburbs or back in the city, but still we were captured by the atmosphere.
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February 25, breakfast (fresh fruits, scrambled eggs, sausages and fresh toast), then a coaster (15 seater) bus emerged for us to live the day in the life of a tourist. Just a peek into the day’s activities: one of the most amazing, breath-taking, exhilarating, well-maintained​ tours here in Puerta Plata was called the Cable Car (aka. El Teleferico) tour, which is located on the mountain of “Isabel de la Torres”. That left us speechless. Touring the city of Puerta Plata was a reminder of back home (Jamaica). This city has all that is needed to survive in a thriving country. The newly refurbished, open, free, accessible zone on the waterfront boulevard called La Puntia (an old fort built by Columbus) was just another prime example of giving power to the people. This park hosts a gigantic dome, play area overlooking the ocean and an old fort that has so much history (sad, but owned by the people) behind it. The day’s activities culminated at the Sosua Beach, which is described as the heartbeat​ of the city; the active, fun mecca of Puerta Plata, a beach (playa) designated for tourists and locals alike.

 

 

Caves we discovered!!!!
When we speak of community-based assets and how community members own them, then we speak of what’s developing now in Puerto Plata. Listening to a refreshing, enlightening explanation of how many of those excursions came to fruition by Senor Juan Pablo, Director of the Chamber of Commerce for the province of Puerto Plata. In his elaborate presentation, we were engulfed in how the formation of groups, organizations, and community leaders that have shaped community development projects and products such as: Rincon Caliente and Hacienda Cufa among others. We were educated by Dominican’s elite. This educational value cannot be bought.

 

 

Ingles professor y professora’s we became, teaching our native tongue and learning or for me brushing up on my Espanol, was the order of the morning. In an open truck,​ we travelled down the countrysides​ to this well-organized Escuela (School), well behaved (Students) estudiantes. Bueno estudiantes.!!!!!! A part of our learning experience was to ensure sustainable learning was imparted, and impart we did with a lot of fun!!!!!!, meeting up with two of Centennial’s best SSW students, who are currently in the ​Dominican Republic carrying out their mandate of creating sustainable, beneficial projects for the community of Tubagua.

Day three, in the classroom again, as our well-spoken guest speaker Mrs​. Amber Ahus-DeAbbot, told us on the many contributions that her company FATHOM has made and is continuing to make to the sustainability of community-based assets. FATHOM which once operated an exclusive cruise for community-based excursions directly impacting the communities, due to challenges which we will face in our future endeavours, had to abandon ship!!! FATHOM is still in the business of creating projects that are not dependent on any particular company/organization for its survival. HATS off to Amber and her Carnival Cruise Lines Company. One of their projects that they oversee is the Coffee tour right there in Tubagua, where guests are able to experience coffee at its finest. COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE, “from the ​ground to the tree and from the tree to the cup!!!!!!. One of FATHOM’S babies!!, that they maintain and continue to nurture.

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We had our class moments, completing Reflections, blogs and evaluations amidst all the experiences.!!!!!

FLIP ; Dominica Republic Experience 2018 (Part 1)

Hola/ Hi everyone, come with me on this reflective journey as I share my first-day experience in the Dominica Republic FLIP 2018. We arrived at the Eco-lodge in the hills of Tubagua, it was the most natural place I have ever been in my whole life with a beautiful breath-taking view.

The day begins with breakfast: fresh fruits, homemade granola, yogurt, eggs, sausage, and toast. Next is our coastal drive in the town of Puerto Plata where Alexis, our amazing tour guide, shared short enlightening anecdotes of the country’s history with us along the way. First stop was the cable car ride in Puerto Plata, this service fully funded by the government 60% of this profit given back to the community and 40% use to pay staff and maintenance. The day was full of awe-inspiring moments, but one of the most highlighting moments for me was the cable car ride up to the mountain of Isabella de la Torres. Why? This mountain is about 2,225 ft high, yes!!!!!! It’s that high. In my opinion, it was a frightening and exciting moment all at once for most of us including myself. However, once we arrived at the top of the mountain all that changed as we disembarked from the car and started taking pictures of the beauty in sight. The atmosphere was welcoming both by local vendors and local peoples. The use of local goods and services was fully evident they use the local resources to create some form of short/ long term employment by building on their natural resources. For example, we bought from the local vendors stalls souvenirs such as jewelry made from local material called larimar a rare blue stone found only in the Dominica Republic. We then made our way down the trail stopped at a cave (yes ppl a cave),  which appears to have been there since the time of the Tainos.  I would say my day was a full course meal and i enjoyed every moment. multiple stops between but this is just a taste for you.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT WORK DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FLIP 2017, BRING COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TO LIFE.

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I am Lawrence, a student of Community Development Work at Centennial College.

We went on a FLIP to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic to bring our studies of Community Economic Development (CED) to life and to learn from the locals’ experiences.  Interestingly, all the contents and principles of Community Economic Development that was taught in class really did come to life in this context as we observed real people put these principles into practical application.

On our trio we learned that tourism is one of the mainstays of the economy in the Dominican Republic, after remittance.
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The principles of CED focus on the use of local resources, by the local community to create wealth for the benefits of all, improve quality of life and enhance socio-economic well- being for people.  The principle I would specifically like to focus on are the use of and benefits to the physical environment.  There are many rich ecological resources present at different locations of the Dominica Republic that help to drive the citizens’ collaborative efforts. For example, natural vegetation within a lush nature  provides fresh and unpolluted air, fertile soil for agricultural produce (cash crops i.e. coffee, cocoa) and food crops such as bananas and so many other varieties of tropical fruits.

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Mineral resources such as Amber, the sand, sea, and sun are also all natural resources that stimulate the economy and the community members’ enterprising spirit.
I observed that the Dominicans are very friendly and entertaining, they also make good use their local resources to promote the growth and development of their tourism industry. They have been very successful as many of the citizens are gainfully employed in the industry of tourism. The increases in the tourists arrival was also noticed both at airport and on a visit to one of the popular beach in a town called, Sosua.
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I really appreciate this great privilege from Centennial College. Travelling to the Dominican Republic to see and observe community development principles in real action was incredible as a learning experience. This exposure is an indelible asset for me. I will apply the knowledge acquired from this trip to foster, promote and stimulate the growth of any community that I will have to work in future by helping them to identify the local resources, emphasize on their strengths, promote themselves and  encourage economic self-reliance through their natural assets and resources.

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Blog design & Photo credit: Hasan Mahbub, Faculty- Community Development Work.

Isabel’s FLIP experience in Dominican Republic

Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. –Nelson Mandela

My name is Isabel Murambiwa, and I am a student studying in the Community Development Work program. During our FLIP to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, we learned how the local citizens of this area are involved in  Community-Based Tourism.

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Lissete, a Community Development specialist in the area who works with the Ministry of Tourism, visited us at the Tubagua Eco-Lodge, where we stayed, to present to us about this new concept of Community-Based Tourism (CBT). From her account I understood that this type of tourism empowers local communities and residents to have substantial control, involvement, and management of their community’s development so that the benefits and profits remain within the community. CBT also fosters use of and collective responsibility for initiatives of ecological sustainability within the community.

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With respect to the Community Economic Development principles I observed, locals in this Puerto Plata region rely on their locally produced goods and services. For example, the food we ate while staying at the Eco-Lodge was locally produced and the staff that worked at this Lodge were also locals in the Tubagua area. Even the Damajagua Water Falls, a project started by local youth, who have managed to build schools and buy buses with the proceeds they get, has now become one of the regions’ great attractions for both locals and tourists.

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In conclusion, I would like to say, I enjoyed every moment while in the Dominican Republic and would go back again if an opportunity comes. I would like to thank Centennial College, International department and the professors that travelled with us. for giving me an opportunity of this great International experience in my learning and this will open many doors for me.

Blog design & Photo credit: Hasan Mahbub, Faculty- Community Development Work.

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:

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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