Every year for a full week in early January, Creighton law students have the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic through the Ronald Volkmer Dominican Republic Immersion Trip.
The group is limited to about 12 participants. David Weber, professor of law, was this year’s guide. Student participants were Sapphire Andersen, Daniel Bost, Montana Crow, Austin Davis, Francisco Gomez-Mancillas, Callie Kanthack, Katie Peterson, Ellen Prochaska, Rebecca Ronayne and Kristyn Wong.
Highlights of the trip included visiting the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic and meeting with a Dominican supreme court justice, touring FINJUS (a civil rights advocacy office) and meeting with local law students at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra. They also took various field trips in and around the cities of Santiago and Santo Dominigo, as well as completing a service project and staying with local host families.
The service project this year included painting a church at a campo (rural village).
“Going to the campo was one of those experiences the whole group cherished,” said Sapphire Andersen, a first-year law student. “The campo seemed like a whole different world, and it was humbling to be welcomed into a new community with open arms. The host families were so gracious and willing to give what they had.”
“This was the point in the trip where we had a real opportunity to use Spanish since most of the people we were visiting didn’t know English,” said Katie Peterson, a second-year law student. “I got to stay with a woman who works with ILAC (Institute for Latin American Concern) to get medical services to members of the community.”
For students who didn’t speak Spanish, interpreters were available throughout the trip.
Peterson said that even when she was exploring law schools, this trip was already on her radar. She said the Jesuit values resonated – including the chance to give back to those less fortunate than herself.
“Once at Creighton, I attended the informational meetings. After hearing about the last group’s experience, I knew this would be a great opportunity to grow in my personal faith and grow relationships with classmates and the Dominican people,” she said.
“I think the trip really exceeded my expectations. I learned so much about the Dominican culture and was able to reflect on my own customs and norms and find God in the simplest of places,” Peterson added.