January 23, 2007
Beginning this year, the St. John’s University School of
Education will offer graduate students the unique opportunity to
develop awareness of Latin culture in addition to proficiency in
Spanish by participating its annual
summer immersion program in the Dominican Republic.
Designed for current and future teachers within inner-city,
multiethnic public schools, the for-credit program aims to
sensitize participants to the learning patterns and needs of
“Instead of sending students to traditional European
study-abroad destinations, we thought it would be beneficial for
them to study in countries where many New York City public school
kids are coming from,” says program director and Associate
Professor of Education Shondel
According to Nero, a recent study by the U.S. Department of
Education indicates that immigrant children enrolled in New York
City’s public schools most often claim the Dominican Republic as
their country of origin. Nero also notes that the Caribbean has
been targeted by the U.S. government as one of three geographical
areas that will produce the most U.S. immigrants during the next
“In the future, every New York City teacher will become a de
facto TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
instructor,” she says.
The summer program, which this year will run from July 2 to
August 7, will be administered jointly by St. John’s and Pontificia
Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra, a Catholic university
located in Santiago. Up to 20 participants will immerse themselves
in six-hour-a-day Spanish language courses. They also will take a
course on the psychology and sociology of language and reside with
neighboring host families.
“We want our teachers to gain empathy for immigrant students by
really feeling their frustration of taking courses in a second
language,” says Nero, referencing St. John’s Vincentian mission to
serve the disadvantaged. “Until you actually experience the
frustration of not being able to communicate, you really don’t get
it. These six-hour immersion courses are designed to mirror the
nine-to-three school days that foreign-born children go
In addition to coursework, participants will be required to
engage in various educational field trips, including excursions to
the historic Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo, Los Haitises National
Park and El Barrio Wilmore in Samaná, as well as trips to local
museums, schools and orphanages.
The program will be preceded by a pre-departure student
orientation on St. John’s Queens campus and followed up with a
two-day recap seminar, also to be held in Queens.
The approximate cost of the program is $5,500, which includes
tuition, living accommodations, textbooks, airfare and field trips.
Applicants eligible to receive financial aid will be notified in
April. Interested students should contact Nero at (718) 990-1620 or
For additional information please visit the Dominican
Republic Study Abroad Web page.