Major(s): African American Studies, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Minor(s): Middle Eastern Studies

What was the name of the organization you worked for over the summer?
Africana Research Collective, Santo Domingo Dominican Republic

What did you work on?
Our group conducted ethnographic research across the following sites: the ruins of the Boca Nigua sugar plantation and San Cristobal sugar mill of Diego Caballero; the former Santa Ana sugar mill at Engombe; the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo; and the Dajabón marketplace at the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. (The cross-country trip from Santo Domingo to Dajabón included ethnographic research in cities as diverse as Moca, Punta Rucia, and La Vega.) We also conducted interviews with Afro-Dominican graduates of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, including activist Fernanda Berihuete and visual artist Laura María De Los Santos Prensa. 

What was a highlight of your experience?
A highlight of my experience was touring the Boca de Nigua sugar plantation. Upon visiting the site, one can immediately notice the age and history behind it. One thing we noticed right away besides the age was how ruined it was, the government had left it to rot. No effort was invested in preserving it and turning it into the historical site it is. Boca de Nigua’s lack of preservation in conversation with the preservation of the Faro a Colón, Columbus lighthouse, in Dominican Republic illustrated the true nature of the country and their anti-Black efforts to erase their Blackness. This became a large topic for the group while abroad and will continue to be one for me personally.

How did your summer experience impact you?
This opportunity has contributed a new point of view and a new perspective for me when it comes to my major and my career path. As an aspiring doctor who aims to deteriorate the border between quality healthcare and underprivileged/underfunded/underserved communities, this experience has opened my eyes to a new world in terms of how certain individuals view their true identity. 

Read more about our experience in the articles below, both featured in Wesleyan publications.
“’Café y Leche’: The Dilution and Erasure of Blackness in the Dominican Republic”
“Africana Research Collective Reflects on Summer Travel and Future Goals”