Arcadia Students Study Culture and Economy in Dominica

By Purnell T. Cropper | April 5, 2012

Following eight weeks of on-campus instruction in ID181/381: The International Experience, a group of undergraduate Arcadia students joined instructors Tom Brinker, Professor of Accounting and Executive Director of the M.B.A. program, and Dr. Wayne Morra, Professor of Economics, on an international excursion of experiential learning to the Carribean island of Dominica.

Located between the two French islands of Martinique in the south and Guadeloupe in the north, Dominica is south of Puerto Rico and north of Barbados. The group embarked on visits to environmental, governmental, legal and banking organizations to hear about Dominica’s history, ecological concerns, legal and financial system, tourism and educational structure.

Students visited the largest manufacturer on the island, Dominica Coconut Products, a company controlled by Colgate-Palmolive that produces soap from coconuts, and Clear Harbor, a customer care and business process outsourcing provider. They studied the island’s electricity sector, including deregulation, renewable energy and barriers to entry, with Collin Cover, General Manager for DomElec, the sole producer of electricity on the island. Students learned about the island’s tourism industry from Colin Piper, CEO and Director of Tourism for the Discover Dominica Authority, and discussed revenue collection with Irving Williams, Comptroller of the Inland Revenue Division.

“I learned so much about the culture and economy of this small island,” says Kelly Pullman, a senior graphic design major. “Dominica is a multicultural country; its rich culture is a blend of English, French, African and Carib peoples. We learned about their employment opportunities and their tourism industry, geothermal energy resources and overall history of the island. We explored opportunities to help bring more tourism to the country to create jobs for the unemployed and boost their economy. I feel that this experience helped me to grow as a person because I now have a better understanding of how people in other countries live.”

In addition to visiting businesses, students also explored Purple Turtle Beach in Portsmouth, situated along the western shores of the island, and hiked through Dominica’s rainforests, including The Valley of Desolation and the Boiling Lake. The group stopped at Emerald Pool, a waterfall-fed pool in the northern edge of Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a rainforest of nature trails and thick canopies, and the Carib Territory, a reserve established for the descendants of the indigenous Kalinago (Carib) people. Historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch guided students on a tour of Cabrits National Park, a peninsula of coral reefs, tropical forests, and wetlands and shared the history of the island.

Brinker, who has visited the island a dozen times, has extensively studied the area and has written about offshore tax planning and foreign investment in Dominica in publications such as The Journal of International Taxation.

“Dominica’s reputation as a respected offshore financial center is emerging,” he says. “The Dominican government understands the value of providing comprehensive offshore financial services while offering security and privacy to reliable investors and businesses. This ‘Nature Island of the Carribean’ is quietly becoming the premier eco-tourism destination and emerging as a ‘safe tax haven’ for foreign investors.”