COSAM » Departments » Office of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity » STEM GLIDE Study Abroad


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Going abroad can be a life-changing experience for students. However, a lack of funding and/or knowledge of the impact of these programs may serve a as a barrier preventing participation. This results in many students missing out on an amazing opportunity to improve international awareness and intercultural competency. To address this issue, the STEM Global Learning Immersion for Diverse Experiences (GLIDE) is designed to offer first time international travelers the opportunity for interdisciplinary learning through the lens of water quality while enhancing their cultural awareness. Traveling to the Dominican Republic, students will focus on this global issue which spans disciplines as the foundation for broadening their understanding of the cross-disciplinary nature of STEM. During the spring semester students will take a course covering a range of topics including:
 
  • Water purification process
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Water Scarcity/drought management
  • Water conservation
  • Health disparities in relation to water issues in the United States and abroad
  • Water-related public policies
 
Once in the Dominican Republic, students will participate in service-based learning related to water quality issues in the country. Students will also extend their education outside of the classroom by engaging with the local cultural through the exploration of historical sites and social activities. STEM GLIDE’s goal will be for students to utilize the knowledge gained during this program to have a positive impact on people, animals, and plants in the US and abroad. This program is completely funded and is at no cost to the students.
 
To be eligible to apply, students must:
  • Have at least a 3.0 GPA
  • Major in a STEM discipline
  • Never traveled outside the US

 

Applications for the 2020 STEM GLIDE will be made available soon!

 
 
Summer 2019 STEM GLIDE Study Abroad Trip
 
  
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Hearing from the Students
 
 
My two weeks spent traversing the Dominican Republic with the inaugural STEM GLIDE class has been the highlight of my college career thus far. I was, and still am, astounded by the concept of a fully funded trip abroad, and the sheer investment of money and time poured into this opportunity for my peers and I cannot be understated. This concerted investment is highly empowering to me personally; coming from an underserved background in STEM, it is easy for me to feel as if I don’t belong or am in some way inferior in my STEM courses as I have not had the same opportunities as many of the people I am surrounded by in this field. This investment, beyond connecting me with an inspiring and uplifting group of similar peers and mentors, represents to me that the Auburn community as a whole is rooting for my success. For this, I am forever grateful. - Marie Harris

 

The students who were chosen to go on the trip really made it what it was for me. I was acquaintances with a good amount of them but some I really did not know at all. Who would have thought that I would become BFFs with Ryan, though? I’m not going to go down the roster and say how my relationship grew with each person, but there are some that I will definitely hold close. Also, I’ve never been able to appreciate nature the way I did while I was in the Dominican Republic. If you were able to see my phone, most of the videos I have saved were from some sort of waterfall, cave, or plant. The white water rafting excursion makes me want to do it everywhere I go now because I have never been able to relish in that much greenery ever. Everything was so vibrant and I live for experiences where I don’t need my phone to enjoy myself. I have never considered anything outside to be my best friend, but I think I’ve just been holding myself back from exploring as much of the Earth as I possibly can. I really am thankful to the STEM GLIDE Program for choosing me to be a part of this trip. I never would have experienced the Dominican Republic on my own the way it was presented to me. - Livia Coleman

 

 

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Before our trip to the Dominican Republic I was very nervous about being out of the country for the first time. I had always wanted to travel abroad so I knew that I could not let my nerves or fears get in the way of this amazing opportunity. When we arrived in Santo Domingo, and began ordering our lunch, at the airport, I was pretty overwhelmed when I realized that my high school Spanish classes had failed me. From that moment, I knew that this was going to be a very interesting journey. Our trip was focused around water quality, and we had spoken about and studied the parameters of water quality extensively before going to the Dominican Republic. We knew that there were major problems concerning the water in DR, so we had to be way more vigilant than we would normally be in the U.S. Many of us brushed our teeth with bottled water (just to take extra precaution), and we were wary about ordering drinks with ice in them. These are things that I would never do at home and it really opened my eyes to what the people of this country face every day. After visiting a small community called La Piedra and seeing how many people struggle to have water every day, I felt this compelling need to do something. This experience gave me a strong motivation to want to help in any way that I could, but it also made me wonder why the government had not stepped in to help these people. The one thing that I will never forget about this country and its people is how proud they are of their history and their nationality. I always felt very welcomed; there were people smiling, dancing, and playing games everywhere we went, and this really touched me. This trip was the best experience of my life, and I would love to do it again if I could. - Abbrianna Robert 

 

At our farewell dinner, the following question was proposed: “What is something you’ll always remember about these last two weeks?” On a whim, my answer was that I will always remember our hike straight up the mountain. However, I thought about the question a lot more as I was preparing to leave the Dominican Republic. I decided that my original answer was shallow and not all that accurate. My real answer is that the thing that hit me the hardest about the trip, and thus what will be my strongest memory, is that people in the Dominican Republic don’t grow up knowing the importance of a trash can. In America, a trash can seems like a minute detail in our ever busy lives. But, in a country not that far away, it’s something some people don't even recognize. I learned so much from just this simple fact. I planned on simply learning about the water situation in the Dominican Republic. While I did learn a lot on this topic, I learned so much more about myself and the world around me. I learned that education is more important than I previously appreciated. I learned that happiness in life doesn't come from things. Happiness comes from the simple moments. Whether it’s a cave or even a hike straight up a mountain, I learned to slow down and find happiness all around me. - Mikenna Babbs

 

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The time that I spent in the Dominican Republic has changed my entire outlook on the world. Before I left, I did not know what to expect. I was nervous about the food and a lot of the things that I would experience. I was even nervous about how the local people would perceive me. I could not have been more surprised than I was. Firstly, I loved the food. I tried everything that was presented to me and I loved it. The things that I was nervous about were some of my favorites (whitewater rafting and the snorkeling). The best part (and the most surprising to me) was how the people interacted with each other and with me. I have never seen people that are so willing to extend the olive branch to others. Everyone was so nice to me and had a positive outlook on life. Through these experiences, I have learned that it is very rewarding to try new things and embark on things that I normally would not. I believe that I now appreciate a lot of the luxuries that I took for granted before going on my trip. I have a broader global view of the world that will help me relate to others that are different than myself. This study abroad trip was an incredible experience that will affect me in a positive way for a long time to come. - Ryan Washburn

Visiting the low economic city of La Piedra was one of the most humbling experiences of the whole trip. There were not any paved roads, some families didn’t have water, some families have to use water out of a jug or may not have water for days.  At the community center we stayed at, it was a bit different from what I’m used to. The kitchen was inside of a school bus, there was no hot water, and there were no shower heads on the shower.  However, none of that bothered me because the children that were there were happy and did not complain, so what did I have to complain about? I enjoyed redoing the water pipes so that they had clean running water.  I am happy to have made a difference even if it was just a small one. Regarding my firsts, it was my first-time white-water rafting, snorkeling, and being in bodies of water that did not include a swimming pool. I am proud to have gotten out in the middle of the ocean because that’s not something I would normally do. It was my first time using foreign currency and I love the fact that they have women on some of their currency. Other things that I enjoyed were seeing the underground lake caves, shopping at the street vendors/markets, trying new food, going to museums, and seeing all the historical places. Overall, this whole experience is something I will never forget, and I am very grateful I got to do this. - MiKaela White

 

 

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Studying abroad has the potential to shape the way students view not only the world around them but also themselves, to picture and understand themselves as more than just an individual but as part of something greater. A lot of people refer to studying abroad as a “life changing experience”, but for me I feel as if I went to the Dominican Republic already with a deep understanding of myself. For me, this trip further showed me the importance of living in the moment and doing whatever makes you happy. Too many times, we get caught up in what is happening around us and what the next person is doing. Focusing on what we do not have versus what we do have or want to have. From the moment we landed in the D.R., everyone seemed so happy, and maybe this is simply a superficial view, but it made me realize that you can either complain about everything that goes wrong or focus on being positive and happy. Everywhere, and I mean everywhere, we went there was music playing and people dancing and it made me wonder why? Like what were they celebrating? Did something great happen? But that showed me the mindset that I have that something great has to happen to celebrate or be happy and that could not be any further from the truth. It was the best lesson I could have learned: live life and be happy. - Johnathan Grimes

 

As I look back on our Study Abroad trip, I realize that not only did I learn about a country very different from my own, I also learned about myself. The Dominican Republic is a country in which has a deep history which has created great pride amongst its residents. After all the research we did in the Spring semester, it still did not help us learn their real issue until we arrived; education. Before our arrival, I simply believed the country did not have the money nor the resources to give clean water to all residents. However, I learned there that the issues run deeper than that. They start with the government and run all the way down to the citizens and the use of land restrictions and sanitation resources. And honestly, after learning about all the actual factors that go into why there is so much research being done, it opened my eyes to one fact. Education and action amongst all citizens, government officials to store clerks, of the correct and even use of resources is the most important if the natural resources of the world are going to be preserved. Overall, this program was extremely informative and very fun. White water rafting was probably one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my life thus far. Furthermore, after that experience I learned that it is okay to step out of my comfort zone and do things that may seem scary to me. I will forever remember this experience and these people who have traveled with me and I am very grateful to have been chosen as a participate in the STEM GLIDE Program. - Charyse Swann

 

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