From Michigan To The Dominican Republic

Jordan Farrel
Junior / Accountancy
Spring 2017 for 2 weeks
Dominican Republic /Social Justice and International Service Learning: From Michigan to the Dominican Republic (FOUNDATION SCHOLARS ONLY)
Water usage and sustainability

A unique learning experience I had while abroad was learning how Wine to Water is using local resources to tackle the clean drinking water problem in the area we lived in. The filters are made of sawdust, clay, and silver. The sawdust and clay are collected domestically while the liquid silver is imported. The silver acts as the filter and has no harmful effects once it is heated in the kiln. The flower pot shaped filter is placed in a plastic bucket. water filled in the top travels through the pot and collects at the bottom of the bucket. Learning this process showed the importance of keeping an open mind to new solutions. Visiting the water treatment plant was also a unique learning experience. The overall process is similar to the Kalamazoo plant however, the plant we visited must rely on gravity to distribute water down to the population. This has numerous limitations which are then worsened by communities cutting water pipes and creating their own systems.

Since the study abroad trip was only two weeks long, I do not think any significant personal changes occurred. However, I was able to identify some personal strengths and weaknesses which I can then use to grow in the future. I learned just how adaptable I really am. I had to immediately get accustomed to a new way of living and doing daily tasks. I was also able to work on a personal weakness of not trying new experiences. I would have missed out on great opportunities like visiting a different country and developing relationships if I did not take a leap of faith and tell myself “I can do this”.

Overcoming language barriers was a funny experience and significantly less stressful than I anticipated. Luckily, I remembered some Spanish vocabulary from high school but the rural Dominican dialect is completely different from what I learned. Body language and hand movements worked extremely well when trying to find directions or signal when I was hungry or tired. Talking to little kids also had its own unique challenges. Some of them did not grasp the concept of a person not being able to understand what they were saying. I would have to explain to them that they must talk extremely slow. They thought it was funny so we turned it into a game and taught each other words in our respective languages.

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