My name is Joseph Strzempko, and this is the first post of my blog, "A Semester in Santiago with Joseph Strzempko." In two days, I will leave my parents house in Westfield, Massachusetts for Santiago, Dominican Republic to participate in the program Santiago Service Learning with CIEE for the upcoming fall semester. This blog will be used to chronicle my experience in the Dominican Republic, both by examining my academic experience and how it relates to classes I have taken at Clark University (Worcester MA), and by recounting specific episodes (and misadventures) that I feel might best give an organic account of my time abroad.
I would like to start off by telling a little bit about myself and explaining why I chose to participate in Santiago Service Learning. I am currently enrolled at Clark University http://www.clarku.edu/
and will be a Junior this upcoming semester. I am majoring in political science http://www.clarku.edu/departments/politicalscience/ and minoring in Spanish http://www.clarku.edu/departments/foreign/. Knowing full well that a semester abroad is often a synonym for 4 months of academic mediocrity, when weighing my options for the upcoming fall, I wanted to ensure my time abroad would leave me collegically as well as personally enriched. Both of these I think I have found in Santiago Service Learning which offers classes which focus both on Spanish language comprehension and topics with a polisci orientation: all of which are taught at La Universidad Pontificia Catolica de Madre y Maestra in Santiago. Aside from academic concerns, of course, I wanted to do something with my semester that I felt would be really fulfilling. Here, again, I think I'm lucky as the program I am in is heavily focused on community service and will take me across the countryside and into Haiti doing service work.
So thats where I stand right now. To be honest I have no idea what to expect exactly. At the moment my worries range from the very real prospect of being mugged or catching malaria to less practical concerns such as whether or not I'll look douchy if I make my profile picture a photo of me helping build a village or speculation as to if dominican girls will think my bad spanish accent is cute or not. Either way I have a feeling this semester's going to be one for the books and I look forward to what will doubtlessly be a very memorable experience.