What impact have you had on your clients and the tourism sector?
The program begins at a remote mountain village and continues through then next 10 days and is completed with 3 urban villages near the ocean. Students complete projects such as water catchment and distribution systems, solar installation, bio mass stove construction, environmental education, reforestation, and home rebuilding in each of the areas. Local populations benefit through these programs and also from the cross cultural experience of having students from numerous countries visit with them. School supplies, backpacks, and shoes have also been delivered. The students are taught respect for various cultures as well as the local flora fauna. Students benefit from the cultural immersion as well, but also from the process of redefining prosperity, happiness, and need. They are given the tools necessary to change personal consumption and consumer habits, become more environmentally and socially responsible, and to develop the systems necessary to make change in their local communities. Not only do the students and Dominicans benefit from the program, but the local environment benefits as well. Through the various projects completed; reforestation, biomass stove construction, solar installation, and environmental education, the students depart with knowledge that they have left the Dominican Republic better than when they arrived.
Two years have gone into the development of the program and a partnership has been developed with a marketing entity to bring more students through the program. 2010 was the first year for the program and 100 students from over 9 countries spent 3 months and $200,000 in the Dominican Republic. An additional program of 21 days has been developed for a more intensive sustainability education. It is anticipated that 2011 will bring 200 students through the program. We are actively seeking additional NGOs through our project area to coordinate more sustainability level projects. Additionally, a program has been developed and will be implemented in January for Dominican students to participate and learn sustainability to parallel those students from other countries.
CSI expienced 100 students from 9 countries in its first year, 2010. Although personal results are not quantifiable, the feedback from the students has been much more than anticipated. Environmental clubs have been developed, charitable organizations have been started, and communities have been made aware of environmental issues once the students return home. The villages visited through the project period have expressed extreme gratitude and definitely look forward to the next group of students to arrive. Deforestation and local flora fauna have definitely been positively impacted through the biomass stoves, environmental education, and solar installation. Also, many of the village local children will now have time to attend school as a result of not spending countless hours hauling water.
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
The project is and will continue to be successful. My primary concern is that the students that are able to attend are typically viewed as being from a higher income family. Unfortunately, less fortunate students will not be able to attend as a result of the program cost. We did have scholarships available for the year 2010 and anticipate offering many more through 2011. This will allow some representation from less fortunate families, but it would be beneficial for all if more could attend. With my current facility I can put approximately 500 students through the program during the summer months. I would like 2/3 of those students to be represented by lower/lower middle class students. Additionally, I would like to expand the student enrollment from the Dominican Republic from its current 25 members to 250. Funds are not currently available and I am funding this part of the program from personal funds.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
The project is and will continue to be successful, but with additional funding more students could attend the program.