Every January, a group of Creighton law students participate in the Ronald Volkmer Dominican Republic Immersion Trip. This year, law students Trevor Brezack, Marcia Kapustin Kerrigan, Chris McMahon, Francesca Romano, Maggie Rossiter and Cory Wilson made the journey to the Dominican Republic.
Ronald Volkmer, JD, professor emeritus, and professor Craig Dallon and his wife Reha, traveled with the students. Jacquie Marte, a native of the Dominican Republic and the coordinator of Creighton University’s Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC), was also on the trip.
After returning to her law studies in mid-January, Marcia Kapustin Kerrigan reflected on the trip.
What inspired you to take this trip?
This trip is a great blend of service, sightseeing and a chance to learn the Dominican culture. Having the opportunity to meet the Dominican people and interact with them was a unique experience and everything about it exceeded my expectations.
ILAC’s center in the Dominican Republican was a wonderful space where we had time for learning, reflection and enjoying one another’s company. Highlights included spending time with Dominican families, painting a church, going to the Dominican Supreme Court and meeting with the DR’s attorney general.
We also went to the Haitian border and visited a Haitian textile factory that makes clothes for Levi’s, Gap, Banana Republic and many other famous brands. It was inspiring to see the good conditions of the factory and the quality of the product. We also visited a fair trade farm and learned how fair trade helps both workers and owners compete globally while improving conditions locally.
What activities did you participate in while in the DR?
Our days were jam-packed with multiple activities. We started our days with a morning prayer and boarded the guagua (our shuttle bus) with Julio – our fantastic driver, and our two ILAC coordinators, Tatiana (from Santo Domingo) and Nicole (an intern who graduated from Creighton last year). We had two programs each day (morning and afternoon) and the evenings included time for group reflection.
Do you speak Spanish or was there an interpreter available?
We were fortunate that our ILAC guides spoke fluent English and Spanish. We also had two people on our trip who spoke conversational Spanish – Maggie Rossiter and Trevor Brezack. In fact, Trevor had lived in the DR during his Mormon mission. It was great to have someone who knew the culture so well and he had a great way of communicating with the Dominicans, knowing the local phrases and dialects.
Yet, language differences or not, the warmth of the people in the DR was just so incredible. Everywhere we went we were welcomed with hugs and smiles.