Taste of Peace Corps experience brings perspective
Students explore Dominican Republic in one of ASU's new spring-break study abroad trips
For ASU senior Jack O’Brien, the words of baseball great Jackie Robinson have always been a guiding principle: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
The quote by his favorite player, O’Brien said, also perfectly describes his feelings about his recent mid-semester ASU study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic.
At work at a construction site in the Dominican Republic are ASU students Leslie Amaya, a construction management student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and Samantha Spadaro, an interdisciplinary studies major in the College of Letters and Sciences.Photo courtesy of Jessica Hirshorn
ASU interdisciplinary studies majors Jack O'Brien and Clariece Marlowe Bayne help build a house, using a construction method that incorporates plastic bottles.Photo courtesy of Jessica Hirshorn
ASU students Gabrielle Blanchette, Elissa Latta, Mary Flora, Silvia Acuna and Mary Casas pose with community children. "The kids helped mix cement for the school floor that day and had a lot of fun playing with our ASU students' cellphones and snapping pictures!" said program director Jessica Hirshorn. The school building will supplement an existing school down the road.Photo courtesy of Jessica Hirshorn
Samantha Spadaro, who graduates in May with interdisciplinary studies concentrations in sociology and communication, chose the Dominican Republic opportunity to complete her internship credits.
“I chose this program because I knew that my time and energy would be valued by the people I was helping and that it was a bone fide program,” said Spadaro.
An unexpected consequence of the trip was the enormous sense of community she experienced.
“I’m incredibly happy that ASU offered this program! I found it very interesting how humble and grateful the people that we helped were. Their warmness was to be unmatched by any experience I have had working with many non-profits in the States,” she observed. “As Americans we often find ourselves out of touch with what it truly means to have a sense of community, and that was one of my favorite parts of this trip. Not only did we get to be a part of the Dominican communities but also created our own.”
O’Brien will also graduate in May with interdisciplinary studies concentrations in business and communications and a history minor. He is taking a job with a St. Louis-based contracting company Altman Charter. “But I’ll probably be living in San Antonio, Texas, working as a project engineer managing a commercial-grade construction project,” he explained.
He recommends that all students aim for an experience that lets them look at life in the United States from a fresh perspective.
“As Americans we often fabricate and create our problems. We often hate instead of love,” O’Brien reflected. “I would encourage future students to invest some time in traveling to a developing country as I think it would bring about a life-changing experience to all.”