Been, awhile since my last post. With the semester really getting underway and homework, projects, and my non-profit really getting in front of me, its definitely been hard to set time aside to write here; ya tú sabes. Anyway, I thought that in this post I might divert from the more Dominican-centric direction this blog has been going lately and talk a little bit about my academic and work related experience so far.
Initially, my most time consuming class was Metódos de Investigación (Research Methods), which, like all the classes I am taking this semester, was conducted in Spanish. Metódos was particularly difficult not only because I took most of it at time, earlier in the semester, when I was struggling to get my Spanish up to par with the demands class and life placed on it, but also because the course was “front loaded” or conducted in such a way so that the bulk of the course was taught earlier in the semester and then began to drop off both in class time and work load. To put things in perspective, in the fist several weeks we had Metódos 2 hours a day 4 days a week (one week 5 days a week) and now we no longer have a regularly scheduled lecture. Our teachers decided to do this because, in mid to late October, we all began to plan, and now execute, our own investigations into the community, and thanks to the front loaded Metódos course, we now have all the skills necessary to do this. You can check out similar classes offered at Clark to see how it compares and contrasts with my experience. http://www.clarku.edu/departments/idce/docs/syllabi/ID%20132%20Syllabus.pdf
Another class that I am taking is titled Pobreza y Desarollo (poverty and development). Our Pobreza class was initially hard to follow since the lesson plans seemed, at the beginning, erratic and devoid of focus (and of course because it was all in Spanish). However, in recent weeks, the course has seemed to come full circle and our teacher’s seemingly aimless jump from the health care structure in the D.R. to the monetary policies of the IMF is actually starting to make sense: maybe there is a method to his madness. So far, the class has consisted of readings, papers, and presentations; we have not had a test or quiz so far. To compare this layout to similar classes at Clark check out http://www.clarku.edu/departments/idce/id/ba/
Despite the fact that I am using Spanish every day, at my job, in classes, and even at home, the program still decided (wisely) to sign us all up for Spanish class. There are two options for Spanish class: Español II Intermedio and Español III Avanzado. Given my (as I thought at the time) impressive command of the Spanish language, I thought that surely I would be in Español III Avanzado. Actually, I placed into Español II and, having had time to see just how far my Spanish still has to come before I’ll really be proficient, I think I’m a lot better off where I am. Español II is a lot like any run of the mill Spanish Class you could take at a college level, although much of it is improvised to suit our specific needs which we have the luxury of doing in a class of only 4 students which is probably smaller than most of the classes you could get at Clark. But to make sure and look at other aspects of the Clark foreign language program, take a look at http://www.clarku.edu/departments/foreign/faculty.cfm
Finally, each of us is required to take a capstone course. This largely centers on an independent investigation relating to the non-profit that we are required to work with. Personally, I’m working with the organization Oné Respe (Haitian Creole for "Honor" and "Respect"), a group that works to integrate Haitians and low-income groups generally into Dominican society. My specific function in Oné Respe is as both a sports coordinator for the Grupo de Jóvenes (young people group), a 7-hour/week commitment, and as the English teacher in the local school, a 4-hour/week commitment. Given the focus of my work, I decided to direct my investigation in the direction of finding the root causes of, and therefore eventually preventing, chronic student absences from class and Grupo de Jóvenes activities. Ill post more about my project as it comes together.
Anyway, that’s my academic and work life so far. Keep checking for more (hopefully more frequent) updates.