NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.- Several Westminster students, alumni and Dr. Joel Postema, associate professor of Spanish, recently traveled to Sabaneta de Yásica, Dominican Republic to volunteer during a mission partnership between Presbyterian congregations in Pennsylvania and Ohio and the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana in Sabaneta de Yásica, Dominican Republic.
Students Shelby Seyler, Sarah Pace and Madison Ordonez attended the mission partnership last year. Seyler and Pace continued the research they began last year on the perception of healthcare in the DR by conducting informal interviews with as many Dominican children as possible to learn about their knowledge of vitamins, germs, water quality and other factors that impact their health. Ordonez conducted research on Dominican pharmaceuticals and access to medicine. This research will help inform the partnership’s medical decisions in the future.
Outside of conducting research, the students also shadowed a professional in their prospective careers. Seyler, junior Psychology major, shadowed a practicing Occupational Therapist. Ordonez, junior Biochemistry major, assisted a pharmacist while volunteering in a pharmacy and senior Biology major Sarah Pace assisted in the medical clinics.
“It was by far the most eye-opening experience I’ve ever had,” said Ordonez. “It was incredible to meet so many new people and to be completely immersed in another culture. I learned so much about the language, the people, the culture and God in just one week.”
The students prepared for their translating roles during the trip by taking an independent study course with Dr. Postema. Postema strived to create a rich learning experience for the students while widening their global awareness.
“Last year’s goal was for students to see what life outside of the U.S. looks like, especially with regard to healthcare, education and housing,” says Postema. “Goals were different this year. This year was more about language learning and strengthening the reality of what life looks like in the DR.”
Postema volunteers for a week each year in Sabenta de Yásica as an interpreter, translating for doctors, construction workers, educators and church officials. This is the 25th year of the partnership between the local churches and the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana congregations. During the annual visits, volunteers help in medical, construction projects, water treatment efforts, educational scholarship support and bible school programs.
Visit sabanetadeyasica.blogspot.com to read more about the week-long trip.