Oh, the places you’ll go with ACES
By Tyler Angus
September 7, 2018

Over the winter break of my freshman year, I went on a study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic with my ACES 298 class. Something that was never on my radar when the semester began ended up becoming hands down the most memorable experience of that year.

As a freshman going into engineering, I was a little overwhelmed at the course load that I had signed up for and planned on just taking it easy with activities for my first year. About six weeks into the semester, one of my professors pulled me aside after class one day and convinced me to enroll in the class, saying that he thought I would really enjoy the experience. Saying yes was probably my best choice of the semester.

After half a semester of classes learning about various agricultural systems across the Caribbean, it was finally time to head to the island. In the Dominican Republic, our group made our way north across the country starting in Santo Domingo and departing from Santiago. During the trip we made stops at various different operations in the DR and learned about how they ran agricultural systems in a tropical climate. From an organic banana farm that operated year-round and produced its own fertilizer on-site to a cacao plantation where we got to see the entire process of transforming a cacao pod into a bar of chocolate, it was an amazing experience. Coming from a grain production background and  getting to communicate with the local growers and learn about how they overcame some of the same problems but with completely different methods was something that I will never forget.

Looking back on the trip, I am so thankful for that little nudge from my professor to go on this trip. It is something that I will always look back on with a smile and I can’t wait to get up and go somewhere new this year.