Northern Essex Baseball Team Visits the Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (October 10, 2023) – The Northern Essex Community College Baseball Team spent the long weekend learning firsthand about the culture of the Dominican Republic, volunteering to bring aid to some of the country’s most vulnerable residents, and connecting with fellow college athletes.
Thirty-five players and five NECC staff members arrived in the Dominican Republic on Friday, October 6, for the cultural immersion trip. Just last fall, six members of the Northern Essex leadership team, along with several community partners, took a similar trip. With 40% of Northern Essex students having ties to the Dominican Republic, cultural immersion trips like these are a chance to learn more about their experiences.
The team played three scrimmages while there: two against Universidad Central del Este (UCE) and one against Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo UASD. They also volunteered for a project run by the Universidad Central del Este to help bring safe drinking water to bateyes (shanty towns inhabited by sugarcane cutters).
The trip was partially sponsored by Chancellor José Hazim of UCE and UASD with additional support and promotion from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology in the Dominican Republic as part of their commitment to globalization and internationalization of their education system.
Friday, October 6
After an early morning flight, the team hit the ground running, making the most of the long weekend trip. They checked into their hotel and then headed for Universidad Central del Este (UCE). There, they attended the school’s baseball academy, learning about the educational system in the DR and about different regulations for the game. They got to put their new knowledge to use with practice afterward.
The Knights and the NECC staff then returned to the hotel to rest up for their first full day of activities.
Saturday, October 7
Today was dedicated to learning about the local culture, visiting significant sights, including the Cuevas de las Maravillas (Cave of Wonders), and volunteering with UCE.
The UCE Medical Center has been at the forefront of eradicating dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness found mostly in tropical and subtropical climates. Densely populated areas without access to clean tap water are at elevated risk for the disease due to greater use of water-storing containers, which could help breed dengue-virus-spreading mosquitoes.
Access to clean water is especially challenging in the Dominican Republic’s bateyes. Bateyes are small communities of mostly Haitian immigrants working in the sugarcane fields of the Dominican Republic. The NECC Knights went door to door in a batey today, offering to test the drinking water in the homes. Then, if needed, they used kits to treat their water storage systems. In all, the players treated 30 tanks of water, which service more than 50 of the batey’s residents.
Sunday, October 8
The Knights put the lessons they learned at the Baseball Academy to use as they faced off in a doubleheader against UCE. NECC won the first game 12-3 but dropped the second 6-5. Despite splitting the series, the Knights took home the trophy based on the run differential.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for NECC players with ties to the Dominican Republic. The families of several players were able to attend today’s games. One mom even offered to wash all of the players’ uniforms ahead of tomorrow’s game with Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo.
Monday, October 9
The last full day of the trip began with tours of Santo Domingo and Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. The players enjoyed learning more about the culture and education system before hitting the field for their final scrimmage against UASD.
More friends, family, and fans of NECC players attended the game and even some abuelas. Following the friendly match-up, the team and their loved ones enjoyed dinner together at UASD.
Tuesday, October 10
Knights return home!
The visit generated articles in the Dominican Republic media, including La Provincia, El Orientador, and Turismo RD. José Altagracia Hazim Torres, a top academic officer at the Universidad Central del Este noted, “For us, it has been a great pleasure to be able to share in this small sporting event, motivated by students, both from the Central University of the East and Northern Essex. It has been a day of great celebration.” (translated from Spanish)
To learn more about athletics at Northern Essex, contact Athletics Director Dan Blair. For more information on cultural immersion trips, contact Vice President of Lawrence Campus & Community Relations Noemi Custodia-Lora.