Elizabeth Renner found herself in a small village in the Dominican Republic unable to speak the language, unfamiliar with local customs, and without her family. And yet she felt confident and prepared to tackle her service learning commitment through Daemen’s Study Abroad Program.
Daemen students have been working with the community for several years and many of the locals look forward to their visits. Renner and her classmates sent two weeks with working with the local community and taught children about budgets, resumes and interviews, and the importance of education.
“It was incredible! When we arrived, the children were so excited to see us," said Renner. “It felt great knowing that the kids had something important and exciting coming to their village.”
Students spent the first week of the trip with local host families.
“At first, I was nervous staying with someone I didn't know," said Renner. “I was worried about communicating and adapting to the local culture. The experience was incredible though. My host family knew quite a bit of English and warmly welcomed us. We still communicate through social media at times.”
The second week was a bit more structured for the traveling students. Their time was divided between professional obligations and leisure activities.
Renner noted, “We took cooking and language classes, learned about Dominican culture, and did some sight-seeing. It was an amazing experience. We also got to work closely with the community while conversing with them about the study abroad experience.
Daemen's Global Programs office provided guidance to Renner and her classmates throughout the study abroad process.
"They helped with booking the trip, fundraising, and were an excellent resource for information," said Renner. " Their support was incredible and I never felt like I was doing this alone."
Renner is finishing her degree in public health and has applied to the Master of Public Health program at Daemen.