Stretch Yourself Through Experiential Learning

My Social Responsibility and Personal Well-Being course has arrived back on campus after a week of service in Santo Domingo, a moving experience to say the least. We worked with West Indies Christian Ministries participating in service for its school and working with kids at the site for the entire week. Some highlights of the trip were plastering the side of a Dominican church (after mixing concrete in the street), giving food donations to a community living next to a landfill, playing with children and teaching them team dynamics and making other clothes and equipment donations. This experience made me realize that simple is better, and to try to live a more relaxing or tranquillo lifestyle.

It was also a great time to practice more and more Spanish, and interacting with Dominican children who’s Spanish was probably better than mine. I am certain there were a few times where they were poking fun at me, and I just couldn’t understand them! That being said, some dialect was different, and I now find myself repeating ‘que lo que’ (what’s up) and ‘tranqi’ (short for tranquillo or relaxed) whenever possible in the states. We also rode around the countryside in ‘guagua’s’ or smaller buses, my new favorite Spanish word. There are times when you would see a group of 15 inside a small guagua with two backlights out and a door missing!

The trip promotes a sort of class style that I am very fond of and that our professor believes in too, called experiential-based learning. David Kolb is a doctorate who studies this sort of learning and states that experiential learning is ‘education that occurs as a direct participation in the events of life.’ Here learning is not sponsored by some formal educational institution but by people themselves. It is learning that is achieved through reflection upon everyday experience and is the way that most of us do our learning. This was very effective, as our class reflected on the day behind us, every night.

As I said before, I was moved by the trip, especially after some of that group reflection and response time. Professor Kramer offered a bit of life advice, saying to stretch yourself through experiences whether its socially, culturally, spiritually or intellectually. I felt that this trip did exactly that, improving my view on gratitude, finding meaning in life, stretching me beyond my limits and comfort zone. This trip has definitely made itch and want to travel more! Where to next, any suggestions?

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