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Music, Ritual, and the Struggle for Haitian and Afro-Dominican Rights in the Dominican Republic

Trip Overview:

In 2010, Gettysburg College initiated a new Immersion Project in the Dominican Republic, based on interest students had in the issues surrounding Haitians living in the DR. Part of this interest was sparked by the viewing of the film The Price of Sugar which documents the Haitian immigrant involvement in the production of sugar in the DR, and the poor working and living conditions in the bateys (sugar cane villages) which are systematically enforced because of antihaitianismo, the racialized discrimination against Haitians that persists despite the fact that most Dominicans themselves are of African descent. Tensions have intensified since 2010, with laws stripping Dominican-Haitians of their citizenship as well as deportations.

This trip will visit the San Cristobal region of the Dominican Republic. Participants will stay at Rancho El Campeche, a beautiful ranch dedicated to cultural and ecological tourism, and operated by Xiomara Fortuna, an Afro-Dominican musical artist and social activist. The trip focuses on cultural traditions and social movements that help sustain the Haitian and Afro-Dominican fight for social justice. Participants will visit communities that maintain rich traditions of Haitian and Afro-Dominican music and ritual, and learn about efforts to address antihatianismo by groups like MUDHA

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1: Travel to Santo Domingo; transport to Rancho el Campeche; orientation

Day 2: Visit communities of Duveaux and Franks for conversation with families; visit shrine of Mana; presentation about San Cristóbal

Day 3: Day trip to Santo Domingo; visit MUDHA; visit Batey Matamamon; meet with MOSCHTA; return to Campeche

Day 4: Drum class; presentation on Dominican popular music; meeting with member of US Embassy; film

Day 5: Visit school in Franks; activity with school children; tour religious sites in El Limon

Day 6: Visit bateys and Boca de Nigua, an historic sugar cane plantation; presentation by Xiomara Fortuna about sugarcane economy

Day 7: Depart to Santo Domingo; sight seeing and museums in historic capitol city; visit university for conversation with college students; evening concert

Day 8: Travel home

Project Leader:

My name is Sebastien Ridore and I am a senior at Gettysburg College. I am a Music Performance major with a focus on the viola and a Business minor. I am a member of Sigma Chi and I hold the position of Diversity Chair. I am of Haitian decent and I speak Haitian creole. This trip helped me learn about both the Dominican culture and my own heritage. I first attended this trip my sophomore year and I had the opportunity to play and perform with some of the most revered musicians on the island. I am very excited to be leading this trip next spring.