NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Educational exchange

Six NECC staff members standing together in PR. There is a yellow pice of cloth with black stripes standing behind them Photo Courtesy of Douglas Leaffer

Six NECC faculty and staff members recently traveled to the Dominican Republic as part of an educational exchange. From left to right: Douglas Leaffer, Dr. Noemi Custodia-Lora, Karen Hruska and Michael Hearn.

NECC faculty, staff visit Dominican Republic

From Nov. 9-14, six NECC faculty and staff members traveled to Dominican Republic, immersing themselves in the culture and gaining a further understanding of the educational system and background of students. Although the warm and welcoming island serves great for vacationing, our beloved travelers specifically traveled there for learning and educational purposes.

The very succesful trip took months to plan and involved coordinating with several nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Noemi Custodia-Lora is the Vice President of the Lawrence campus and community relations and has orchestrated a total of four exclusive trips that require faculty and staff members to formally apply. Analuz Garcia, assistant director of community and international relations, also helped plan the trip.

The very successful trip took months to plan according to Dr. Custodia-Lora and involved coordinating with several nonprofit organizations from Salcedo and Ciudad del Conocimiento de Monte Plata, as well as Instituto Tecnologico Superior Comunitario de San Luis (ITSC), Universidad Central del Este (UCE), Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) de Santiago, Dominican public officials and Liceo Cientifico.

Dr. Custodia-Lora shared that President Lane Glenn accompanied them on the first trip as he had never been to the Dominican Republic. She said she often described to him “the educational system, social issues, ways of living, the family dynamics, politics, sports, general culture of Dominican Republic” and that when they returned from the trip he “looked me in the eyes and told me, ‘I get it now.’ That was my inspiration to develop this program.  I wanted other faculty and staff to also “get it” and with that for them to have a deeper connection with our students.”

Director of Counseling Services Karen Hruska applied and was accepted to travel to Dominican Republic for her first time. Hruska has been working in higher education for about 12 years and has heard from numerous staff and students the challenges of coming from DR to pursue a life in the U.S., therefore she wanted to gain a better understanding of elementary, middle, high school and college education and how it translates in the U.S. Hruska emphasized wanting a “better future for the kids” and saw the wide gap between the.