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Geography department creates scholarship for children in Dominica

07/05/2007

Children from Grand Fond village, members of the Sustainable Living Institute Center in Dominica and Miami University graduate student Chris Thompson celebrate the new scholarship fund with its first donation.
Miami University's department of geography has developed a scholarship for preschoolers in Dominica, furthering its involvement with the Carribean nation in areas of education and sustainability.

Thomas Klak, professor of geography, takes Miami students to Dominica to study the development of sustainable economies. He worked to establish the scholarship fund to provide educational resources to children in Grand Fond, a small village in southeastern Dominica.

The Grand Fond Pre-School Scholarship Fund provides tuition monies to children who otherwise cannot afford the $400 tuition to attend the school.

"Some families can't afford any of it and don't send their kids," Klak said. "Others can't pay a part of it and the school runs short of funds. The scholarships will help to fill those gaps."

Klak, who has done research in the Caribbean since the 1980s, became involved with the people of Grand Fond through his overseas workshop, "Ecotourism and Sustainable Development in the Eastern Caribbean." Each spring he and 15-20 students travel to Grand Fond, the location of 3 Rivers Eco Lodge, to work with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Sustainable Living Initiative Center (SLIC). The 3 Rivers Eco Lodge also is a sponsor of the scholarship. The goal of the NGO is to develop Dominica's economy without damaging the environment and by being socially inclusive. Miami's geography department has a cooperation agreement with the center.

"Our students benefit greatly from the experience, and we want to return the favor," Klak added.

This month, Miami's geography department gave $800 for the scholarship fund. Contributions came from students and others who have travelled to Dominica with Klak.

"This is just the first of what we hope will be a variety of contributions that Miami University makes to support Dominica and to help them toward sustainable development."

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