Dominican Trip to Cover Public Health Issues

Ava Mason, Staff Writer

The College and Career Center held an informational meeting at 7:00pm on November 9 for a proposed summer trip to the Dominican Republic.

The trip will be coordinated by Rustic Pathways, a community service program designed to engage high school students in social action in other cultures. This will be the school’s first time involved with a Rustic Pathways trip, which will be organized by Mary O’Connor, a Rustic Pathway’s employee.

The week-long trip to the Dominican Republic hopes to educate students about public health in more impoverished communities. The 1st 5 days will be spent working to support citizens’ health and to see how the environment impacts it. Students will receive their First Aid Certification, as well as help improve the infrastructure in some of the impoverished Batey communities. The Bateyes are communities of sugar cane workers who live in isolated and often impoverished conditions. On the final 2 days students will explore other areas of the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic trip available to students in the Lamorinda area is just one of 21 trips that the Rustic Pathways organization provides. Teachers choose trips based on student interest and the country in which a particular service is needed. In this case, Joan Batchellor, head of the college and career center, chose the Dominican Republic. It is open to high school students of all ages, and at least 10 students are needed to make the trip possible.

“We’re just offering it as an option for kids to do this summer to learn more about public health in a different country and get actually get their first aid certification as well,” said Batchellor.

Students from both Campolindo and Miramonte are invited to participate; however, an exact date for the trip has yet to be determined. “We’re trying to get a date from those who are actually committed to going,” said Batchellor.

Rustic Pathways is an opportunity for students looking to be on the pre-med track, but is also for people who want to learn about public health. “There’s a lot of research that can be done so that people can get their PhD and study diseases. So this just opens other doors for them,” said Batchellor. She believes that this trip is beneficial for those interested in pursuing careers outside of the standard medical track as well.

Mary O’Connor organized the November 9 meeting. Her job within Rustic Pathways currently is to be the liaison between the schools and the teachers. O’Connor has led trips in 7 different countries. The programs are for, “any student that’s looking to experience something that is really different from your normal day to day life. To experience a different culture and make new friends and build relationships with people in different countries and trying new things helps to broaden your perspective of the world,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor said that the trip to the Dominican Republic is a learning experience for students who are looking to broaden their understanding of health and other cultures. “For this trip, students who are interested in public health or interested in medicine and pursuing a field like that in the future its definitely great for them. But anyone who is interested in exploring the Dominican Republic and learning more about public health and experiencing a culture that is different for a week its for them too,” she said.

O’Connor explained that students will walk away from the Rustic Pathways program with a greater understanding of different cultures.

Sophomore Tara McCateer, who attended the meeting, plans to participate. “I think the Dominican Republic, being more of a developing country, would be a really good experience to see how we can improve upon public health systems,” she said. She is considering a career in the medical field and stated that this will be a great opportunity to learn more about her future career. McCateer also said that there is a lot more that students coming form a developed nation can do to help a developing country such as the Dominican Republic.

The trip is expected to take place either the week after school ends in June or just before school begins again in August. Batcheller advises that students sign up well in advance to reserve a spot.