As I mentioned in My Travel Resume & Bucket List, I’m heading to Dominica soon! Woo-hoo! I am anxiously awaiting as I count down the days ’til departure.
I am extremely excited for this trip, mainly for 3 reasons:
- I have familial roots in Dominica. My paternal grandfather was born there, and my last name, Rabess, is pretty unique to the island. It will be my first visit to Dominica! Moreover, I’m excited for people to actually pronounce my last name right without me having to provide multiple instructions. LOL! (FYI — It’s pronounced “rah-BESS”.)
- I will be meeting my 97-year-old great grandfather for the 1st time! Eek!
- It’s a study abroad trip, meaning I get to take part in a research study about counseling students’ cultural immersion experiences and its effect on their cultural competence.
So, I’ve decided to continue with the theme of “3’s” as I prepare to embark upon this journey of self-exploration and growth in cultural competence.
3 things I want to learn
- As Dominica continues in its tenacious efforts to recover from the devastating Hurricane Maria, I hope to learn from the most valuable perspectives — the people of Dominica — about ways in which people actually recover from natural disasters and return to their “normal lives”. I’ve read a lot of literature about it, even some rich qualitative sources… But there’s something special about being physically present with the survivors of a natural disaster and hearing from them first hand about what their needs are. I’m looking forward to soaking it all up!
- I hope to learn more about the native Dominicans. During this trip, the group will have a chance to visit Kalinago Barana Autê, The “Carib Model Village”. Dominica is home to the last remaining Kalinago (Native Carib) people of the Caribbean. It is the authentic, native heritage experience; no gimmicks!
- Although I have family from the Caribbean, my understanding of what mental health care looks like there is very limited and I want to learn about how exactly they operate regarding mental health in their communities. I will have the opportunity to connect and collaborate with local counselors, teachers, historians, and community leaders in Dominica, and I cannot wait to exchange valuable information about mental health care systems and approaches, and hopefully help to build a solid partnership between both parties.
3 things I want to accomplish
- A successful presentation to the Dominican counselors and social welfare team. Each student in the program is required to present on a topic regarding natural disaster recovery. I will be presenting on….. *drum roll*….. Self-care and wellness! I am interested in learning what the Dominican people are doing to take care of themselves during this recovery period, and guiding them in creating (or enhancing) their own self-care/wellness plan based on what has traditionally worked for them in the past. I am also interested in helping the counselors to help their students and families implement (or enhance) self-care and wellness plans.
- My favorite part of each of my previous traveling experiences has been my conversations and interactions with the local people. My introverted self turns into an outgoing extravert while traveling! I hope to truly immerse myself in the culture so as to engage in genuine dialogue with the people who know Dominica best. I have deeply valued these types of interactions in the past.
- As I mentioned before, this is a study abroad experience composed of a research study examining the effect of a cultural immersion experience on counseling students’ cultural competence. I obviously hope to exhibit growth in cultural competence. But on a larger scale, I look forward to being part of groundbreaking qualitative and quantitative research on what truly “works” in terms of counseling programs preparing future counselors to be ethically and culturally sound in working with clients from all walks of life. (Okay, I’ll get off my nerdy-research soapbox.)
3 things I’m keeping on my person at all times
- My phone. It’s 2018, and I don’t think I can go anywhere without my phone, because it serves as more than just a phone. It’s a camera, an alarm clock, a navigation system, a calendar/agenda, a notepad, a computer through which I have unlimited information readily available at my fingertips… The list goes on. I plan to use my good ole iPhone 6s to capture some of the sweetest moments of this trip, and to also to help me in keeping together all of the loose ends.
- Listening ears! I am committing myself to intentionally make conscious efforts in shedding myself of the “American Savior” mindset as I prepare to travel to Dominica. I am not more advanced, knowledgeable, or (insert any other positive quality) than them. I will be there to participate in an equal exchange of ideas information. I will be learning from them just as much as they are learning from me (if not, more!).
- My journal. Another component of the research study involves writing daily entries into a journal that will be used for the qualitative portion of the project. I am looking forward to sharing some of my journal entries, so stay tuned!