Penner, Lynn. (MA Thesis) St. Paul's College and the Intercommunity Program to the Dominican Republic: Participant Reflections on the Experience and Its
Impact on Personal Development. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: University of Manitoba, 2000.
Author conducted focus group discussions among former participants in a catholic college's annual 4-week service/learning trip to the Dominican Republic, interviewed administrators involved with the program, read files relating to it.
Concludes form observations of these sources that the program increases students' awareness of the third world and increases solidarity between people in Canada and people in the Dominican Republic.
- The author determined that the focus groups' reflections on their trips fell into five major categories:
o confrontation and change
o clarification of values
o personal connections
- The author found that people on this trip came away especially motivated to try to change things through personal, rather than civic or political, action.
"The participants in this study wanted to bring about change on a personal level, hoping to create change by example. The participants in this study mentioned neither government involvement nor public actions." (p.117)
- Author concludes that the program's two main goals (increase student awareness of third world, increase solidarity) are being met, and that the program should continue.
- Recommends the following changes:
o goals should be stated more clearly (this would help participants reflect more clearly on their experiences)
o more group-building exercises ahead of time
o at least one participant on each trip should be bilingual
o size of group should be limited to 10 people
o mandatory formal debriefing
o weighted selection process, taking into account past travel experience, religion, etc.
- Based on recommendations from the college Rector and others associated with the program, author chose 12 people out of the 150 total who had participated in the program in the 14 years of its existence.
- She divided these into 2 groups, each of which had an equal male/female ratio and represented a cross section of the range of years of the program's existence. (In the end 6 males and 5 females participated).
- Most of her observations come from comments made by these former students in focus-group discussions, and from personal interviews with people who were or had been involved in planning the trips. She also looked at documents such as post-trip reflection papers and evaluations.
- 24 the average age of the focus group participants when they went on the trip.
- 90% had volunteered in some way previous to going to the D.R.
- Annual 4-week trips to the Dominican Republic run for students at St. Paul's college, a catholic college affiliated with the University of Manitoba.
- Two main goals of program:
o Increase student's awareness of the third world
o Increase solidarity between students/people at St. Paul's and people in Dominican Republic.