UF, Dominican Republic announces partnership; plans to be finalized by end of fall semester

By Melissa Carrick

Oilers Serving Abroad, a community service organization at the University of Findlay, went to the Dominican Republic last week to further build on the relationship established between UF and UCATEBA – the university that OSA has partnered with over the last few years.

David Emsweller, vice president of student affairs at UF, returned to the Dominican for his second trip with OSA. Emsweller’s first trip was in the spring of 2016. He participated in one of OSA’s three yearly service trips. This trip, however, provided the opportunity to have discussions about potential collaborations between UF and UCATEBA.

UF President Katherine Fell visited for the first time, travelling alongside Emsweller and OSA student leaders and founders, Dallas Smith and Jenise Berning. According to Berning, this trip served as an opportunity for University leaders to see what students have been doing in OSA over the past three years.

Berning explained that having Fell’s support meant a lot to OSA as an organization.

“I think it speaks to Dr. Fell and our University as a whole, that she as well as other University leaders, take the time to really get to know what our students are doing,” she said. “I think it also shows the importance Dr. Fell finds in service and cultural experiences.”

UF has been building a relationship with UCATEBA since 2013 through short-term visits that allow students to experience each other’s campuses while doing service projects. Emsweller

explains how this trip was the beginning to further developing these relationships to give students a broader and deeper experience.

“Much more collaborative planning needs to take place before we have a formal plan, but both universities are very committed to creating experiences that will promote intercultural understanding, facilitate service learning, and immerse students in another culture,” Emsweller said.

Emsweller hopes this plan will become finalized by the end of fall semester.

According to Fell, UCATEBA’s mission is similar to UF’s as they are both faith-based universities committed to preparing their students to be global citizens. This relationship provides an opportunity for the Universities to learn from one another.

“I was moved by the affection the leaders and children at the Helping Hands orphanage have for our students – Dallas Smith and Jenise Berning. OSA has clearly made a strong impact there,” Fell said.

Fell will be traveling to Japan and Hong Kong after Homecoming weekend, but she hopes to return to the Dominican Republic to work toward a strong partnership with UCATEBA University.

Fell, Emsweller, and Berning all encourage students to become involved in service domestically or internationally.

“I’m fairly certain the experience students have will have a lasting impact. My hope is that all UF students will choose to serve others and explore diversity of some capacity during their time in college,” Emsweller said.

According to Berning, OSA has sent over 70 individuals abroad holding true to their mission statement “to provide opportunities for Oilers of diverse disciplines to serve our global community, learn about culture, establish relationships, and enrich our lives.”

OSA is always taking new applicants to their three programs. For more information, visit the office of international education in the Buford Center located at 1222 N. Cory St.

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