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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Program Terms: Spring
  • Restrictions: WMU applicants only
  • Budget Sheets: Spring
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Description:

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Program Overview

Group photo

Santo Domingo, the first city established in the New World, represents an ideal location to explore the inextricable relationship between culture and communication. This 3-credit course is designed to provide undergraduate students with introductory exposure to the basic concepts inherent to intercultural communication and ethnography, and hands-on experience with creating a research proposal within a specific cultural context. In this regard, the course reflects Western Michigan University’s commitment to provide opportunities for student-entered learning experiences that are both discovery-oriented and globally engaged.

Students applying for this program may be eligible for the Haenicke Institute for the Global Education Study Abroad Scholarship. 
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Location & Related Considerations

Group photo on the beachThe Dominican Republic is a sovereign state occupying the eastern five-eighths of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean region. The western three-eighths of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries. Both by area and population the Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation, with 48,445 square kilometers (18,705 sq. mi) and 10.08 million people, of which approximately three million live in metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.

The Dominican Republic has the 9th largest economy in Latin America and is the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. Though long known for agriculture and mining, the economy is now dominated by services. The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean and tourism composes over 60% of the nation’s GDP.

Accommodation for Disabilities/Special Needs:
Any student with a documented disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) who needs to arrange reasonable accommodations must contact Disability Services for Students at (269) 387-2116 ahead of their term abroad. A disability determination must be made by this office before any accommodations are provided by the study abroad course's instructor. For more information, visit WMU Disability Services for Students.

Safety and Security:
Students are expected to research their country of destination to learn more about issues related to safety, security, and physical and mental health. For general information about Senegal, consult The CIA's World Factbook and the U.S. State Department.  If the state department has designated any travel destination as level 3 or higher, or if the travel destination(s) contain regions designated level 3 or higher, participants must sign a WMU travel waiver prior to travel. For specific information related to safety and security, consult OSAC(United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security). For advice concerning health issues and related concerns, consult Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Finally, once students receive a message that they have been enrolled, they can also use resources provided by WMU's International Health and Emergency Insurance provider, GeoBlue.

The following general comments are derived from OSAC: The most common type of crime is drive-by robberies (1-2 (usually male) assailants on a motorcycle, scooter, or even a bicycle). The assailant typically drives up to the potential victim and grabs anything in arm's reach. Often, they stop, one disembarks, and points a handgun at the victim, demanding valuables. Although armed assaults are more frequent during hours of darkness and when victims travel by foot, they can occur while the victim is in a vehicle stopped at a traffic light and often during the day. To avoid becoming a victim of a drive-by robbery, try to avoid outwardly displaying any items of value. Be alert for motorcycles and scooters. If someone approaches, duck into a store or move out of the way. Note that assailants may circle around and try again.

Infrastructure measures, construction safety standards, licensing, and regulatory procedures vary by country. Try to avoid travel in unsafe vehicles on unsafe roads, and exercise caution when using stairways, ramps, and handrails. Take extra precaution when hiking in areas with poor trail geography and infrastructure, especially if guardrails and other safety features are missing or dilapidated. Bring and use bug spray to help protect against insect-borne illnesses, especially from mosquitos and ticks. Protests occur frequently on university campuses and in public spaces; avoid these protests and refrain from engaging with (including photographing) the demonstrations. In addition to consulting the above-mentioned governmental agencies, review the WMU website, especially the section entitled “Health and Safety Abroad."

Local driving laws and practices are unlike those in the U.S. WMU Study Abroad strongly discourages students from driving, renting, leasing or owning a motor vehicle while participating on a study abroad program.

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Academic Eligibility
Minimum 2.0 GPA
Full-time status

Academic Program
Course Objectives:
• Understand and explain the inextricable relationship between culture and communication;
• Grasp the transfer of intercultural communication theory to everyday life;
• Demonstrate increased levels of knowledge, skills, and motivation in terms of cultural communication competency;
• Create an original ethnographic-based research proposal for a specific site in the Dominican Republic.

Learning Objectives:
• Enhance reflective and research writing competencies;
• Appreciate the diverse ways in which cultural similarities and differences manifest themselves in multiple aspects of everyday life;
• Value an intersectional approach to understanding cultural identity;
• Make connections between theory, research, and practice;
• Demonstrate increased levels of cultural communication competency;
• Practice mindfulness as an intercultural attitude/value.

Academic Credit
WMU academic credit will be awarded for COMM 3050 (3 credits) upon successful completion of the program. Prior to participating in the program, students are urged to work closely with appropriate academic advisor(s) to determine how the credits will count toward their WMU degree requirements.

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Cost & Financial Aid

To access the complete program budget published at the top of this page, click here. Students should bring a copy of the program budget when they meet with their financial aid advisor to discuss funding for study abroad.

Students applying for this program may be eligible for the Haenicke Institute for the Global Education Study Abroad Scholarship

Financial Aid
Students eligible for federal or state financial aid may use their awards for studying abroad. After a student has been accepted to the program, they must complete required paperwork with WMU Financial Aid to apply financial aid to the program costs. It is the student's responsibility to complete the paperwork prior to departure and to maintain compliance with financial aid regulations while studying abroad (i.e., remain enrolled full-time). 

Note: Disbursement of financial aid may not coincide with the start date of the program abroad, so plan ahead! Some out-of-pocket costs may occur prior to receiving financial aid for the semester, such as the program commitment fee, passport, airfare, immunizations, visa or residence permit fees (if applicable). These costs vary by program and WMU Study Abroad specialists are available to answer questions about the program budget. 

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All participants and faculty directors will stay at the Santo Domingo Bed & Breakfast. This cost efficient housing option is also within walking distance to the historic Colonial Zone. We have reserved the entire second floor of the B&B – which has six rooms and three bathrooms (able to accommodate up to 14 individuals). A light breakfast is included, and we have arranged for the B&B to provide a communal dinner each night.

One night stay at Hotel Eden in Bayahibe, light breakfast included.

Most lunches are the students' responsibility. Two WMU faculty/staff members would be on-site support for students in terms of academic, social, and personal support. If needed, we also have access to the resources at UNIBE.

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Pre-Departure Meeting 1: Early February

Pre-Departure Meeting 2: Late February

Travel Dates: Friday, March 1 - 9, 2019
Santo Domingo - March 1 - March 5
Bayajibe - March 6
Punta Cana - March 7
Santiago - March 8
Santo Domingo - March 9

Post-travel meeting 1: March

Post-Travel Meeting 2: April

Tentative itinerary subject to change.

Note: Participants must attend all scheduled classes and participate in all activities during official program time, which is determined by the faculty director. Before making any side plans, students should first confirm them with the director. In particular, applicants are encouraged to pay close attention to the Statement of Responsibility included within the application which further details this requirement.

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Additional Resources

Dr. Mark Orbe 
(269) 387-3132

Study Abroad Specialist
Ryan Rounds
Study Abroad Specialist
Phone: (269) 387-5890
Location: 3306 Faunce

Host Institution Information (external links)
UNIBE (Universidad Iberoamericana Official Site)
The Santo Domingo Bed and Breakfast

Country Information (external links)
Country Information from the U.S. Department of State - Dominican Republic
Country Specific Information - Dominican Republic
Culturegram - Dominican Republic

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This program is currently not accepting applications.