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New study abroad programs bring academic studies, service to BW athletes

From the Dominican Republic to Ireland to Greece, BW's Center for Global Exploration offers student-athletes new learning and bonding experiences that bundle academics, sports and service.

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BW baseball players and assistant coach Matt Rosinski (pictured far left in polo shirt) gather with pitcher Jose Soriano of the Los Angeles Angels.

According to center director Christie Shrefler, the first program just took place in December in the Dominican Republic. Two more programs are planned for Ireland and Greece. Shrefler believes the new programs will enhance student-athlete participation and the learning experience. 

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Dohanos

"We have consistently sent athletes abroad on our traditional programs," she explained. "But there was a barrier for many due to the timing of the trips and athletic season. Some teams have traveled abroad, but without the enhanced academic and experiential component, students were limited to simply sightseeing and playing sports in a different location.

"We firmly believe students should be given the tools to travel abroad," Shrefler went on to say. "Carefully designed programs through the Center for Global Exploration achieve greater outcomes and give students the best experience possible."

Unforgettable immersion experience

BW associate professor Dr. Andrew Dohanos has been a faculty mentor to the BW baseball team for several years. Last spring, he and baseball coach Brian Harrison talked about ways they could work together more closely. Among their ideas was a trip to the Dominican Republic.

"The Dominican Republic was an easy choice given the importance of baseball to their culture," said Dohanos. "Our trip was Dec. 10-20 and included 27 student-athletes. Among activities, our athletes played games against Dominican military teams and local academies in and around Santo Domingo and Jarabacoa.

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House painting took place in the Batey village of Gauthier.

"In addition to these games, we visited Dominican historical and cultural sites in the area. For the service component of the trip, the players visited an orphanage, conducted a baseball skills clinic for children and painted houses in a Dominican Batey village," noted Dohanos.

"As communication is the academic discipline for which I teach, our study abroad experience centered on intercultural communication. Students took coursework before the trip. This not only fulfilled the requirements for the four academic credits they earned but also prepared them for the immersion experience," explained Dohanos.

"In our studies, we discussed topics like intercultural intelligence, ethnocentrism and intercultural sensitivity. Our time in the Dominican Republic was an opportunity for them to practice their new insights and skills," he went on to say. 

"The trip was a huge success. The players had a chance to spend time with their teammates and create lifelong memories. They took classes together and traveled abroad to experience something new," remarked Dohanos.

"The direct connection to their sport and opportunity to meet other baseball players and play internationally was a thrill, too. Many of the student-athletes also found the service component to be meaningful," he emphasized.  

In addition to last month's trip, more global explorations are scheduled. In August of this year, BW professor Dr. Amy Jo Sutterluety will travel to Ireland with men's and women's basketball.

A trip is also planned for May 2025 for Dohanos and associate professor Dr. Andi Lyons to go with the men's wrestling and women's volleyball teams to Greece.

 

Photos in the Dominican Republic are courtesy of Scott Gray of Tremont Global Education.

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