Ian Hopkins ’25 awarded Newman Civic Fellowship to explore using film for social change
The audience members jumped to their feet and started to twirl around as they listened to merengue, the music of the Dominican Republican. But before dancing, they listened to the Dominican experiences of Manuel Jimenez '12, Welbith Mota '10 and Susy Reed '10.
Jimenez, a Dominican national, started off the event by discussing the D.R.'s colonial history, current representative democracy, geography and service-based economy.
"I want to inform the student body about the D.R., outside of the beaches and all-inclusive resorts," Jimenez said.
Mota, a Dominican immigrant, followed with a different perspective.
He remembers his nation's culture more than its history and politics and still immerses himself in the D.R.'s traditions, language, music, food and respect for elders.
While Mota highlighted the positives about his country, he also discussed the nation's hardships and his plan to return to the D.R. Mota wants to use his self-designed social justice major to improve the D.R.'s relationship with Haiti, its neighbor that it has been in conflict with since the 1800s.
Reed is also interested in improving life in the D.R. Through Connecticut College's chapter of Cambiando Vidas, she traveled to the D.R. twice to help build houses that would survive the island's harsh hurricane season.
"Everyone involved in the project was extremely welcoming and grateful," Reed said of the locals she built houses with.
The Dominican-focused event was the first of the "Coffee G'Round the World" series, which will feature presentations on a different country each month in the College's lounge-like coffeehouse, Coffee Grounds.
The goal of the series is to share the cultures and histories of some of the 71 countries represented at Connecticut College.
- Laura Marenghi '12