Student Highlight: Alison Coria-Tarazona

Programs for this blog post

Leadership & Service in Public Health

Authored By:

Megan Hoeffler

This Blog post was written by one of our CIEE participants, Alison Coria-Tarazona.


Screamed one of the students in the program at the airport when we all met. The game Uno was the first activity we all did together as a way to break the ice. It definitely connected us as friends and brought out lots of laughter. 

Once we actually did arrive at our designated home stays, each and every one of us were welcomed with open arms. My homestay mom immediately greeted me with a warm hug and told me “¡bienvenida mi hija!” which translates to “welcome my daughter!” 

It’s been a week since we last arrived, and I am more than confident to say that every day here in the Dominican Republic has been so special to me and undoubtedly brought the best out of me. Starting from the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) where we interacted with the children, to the cultural visits in the city of Santiago, I have definitely learned a lot about the DR and of myself. 

My homestay mom has made such delicious meals for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. A few include:

Mangú: fried cheese, fried salami, mofongo topped with red onion slices

La Bandera (The Dominican Flag): rice, beans, salad, strewed meat, avocado, plantains

Tostones: fried and mashed plantains slices

Habichuelas: another word for beans

Mofongo: mashed fried plantains

As you can see, I was well nutritioned and enjoyed every bite I had. When comparing food to the United States, I find it to be a lot more fresh and flavorful here, for example the fruits are sweeter here at the DR. 

Coming to the Dominican Republic, I was afraid of the safety in the community just like how anyone else would be when visiting a new place. However, my homestay mom and leaders did the best they could to ensure that I felt safe. Multiple precautionary measures were taken such as curfews, buddy systems, requirement to have a form of communication in hand, accessible transportation, and informing us of other essential information. So if you’re a parent reading this, know that your child is being placed in great hands. Not only will they be safe, but they will also be experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you’re the student who will be traveling, you most definitely will create wonderful and unforgettable memories that shape your ever changing personality. 

The Leadership and Service in Public Health is a great program to directly learn how the culture at a certain place impacts the healthcare system as well as compare the country you’re traveling to with your hometown. Being able to fully immerse myself in the life of Santiago through the colorful music and architecture has made this program unique and valuable.