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Dominican medical students exchange knowledge on campus

Scarlett Constanza Santana and Shaila Abreu Marte share their research
Jensil Brujan
Scarlett Constanza Santana, left, and Shaila Abreu Marte, of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, share their research findings at the Cornell Global Health Research Symposium on Oct. 16. Their summer research partners in the Dominican Republic were Cornell Global Health students Julia Smith '16 and Anshu Gaur '17.

In 2014, the Cornell University Global Health Program introduced a new summer program in the Dominican Republic in collaboration with Cornell’s Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations and Asesoría Nutricional para el Desarrollo Armónico, a holistic clinic in Santo Domingo.

As part of the 2015 program, Cornell students completed research projects alongside Dominican medical students from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) on topics ranging from cancer and nutrition to gender inequality. Eleven UASD students began a weeklong visit Oct. 15 to Cornell to present their research, attend classes and learn about medicine in the U.S., adding an academic exchange component to the program. The reciprocal visit of eleven students and their professor, Dr. Angel Pichardo Almonte, is the largest to date for any of the Global Health field experiences offered by Cornell. As part of the exchange, the students presented research projects alongside Cornellians at the Oct. 16 Global Health Experiential Learning Symposium.

At the symposium, Stephany Baez, a UASD student, said, “The best part about these projects was working in mixed teams. It gave us the opportunity to learn about our Cornell teammates and their background as well as share our own.” Annie Fernandez ’17, a Cornell participant, echoed that collaborative effort was essential to the research project, and that presenting alongside her Dominican partners further enhanced the finalization of their investigation.

The students spoke about the health system in the Dominican Republic in the Spanish classes of senior lecturers Mónica Beviá and Cecilia Lawless, spoke about global health on the Alcance Latino Radio Show with Carlos Gutierrez, discussed holistic medicine with professor Marcia Eames-Sheavly, and spoke about medical plants with students from Ithaca’s New Roots Charter School.

Julia Smith ’16, a summer 2015 program participant who organized much of the Dominican students’ visit, said, “ I was so happy to have the Dominican students visit my Spanish class during their visit. They were incredibly eager to share their experiences and contribute to discussion and it was amazing to spend time with them in a different academic setting. I see them as not only my peers but also my mentors.”

The exchange provided for engaged learning, international enrichment and a strong partnership between the respective global health programs at UASD and Cornell. Sergio Isaías Valenzuela, a UASD student, said, “It was incredible to meet and interact with different professors, community members and students in Ithaca. I learned so much from each and every experience here and I believe that this exchange was a socially and personally transformative process and the beginning of a great partnership.”

Emily McNeill ’16 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle.

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