This booklet created by SOMOS members introduces the project and its recent efforts: SOMOS, 2018. An Introduction to SOMOS and Summer Trip 2018 Updates. SOMOS, ITPIR.
What is SOMOS?
Formerly known as the Student Organization for Medical Outreach and Sustainability, SOMOS is a cross between a club, a class, a research project, and a varsity sport. There are 15 active team members, from seniors to freshman in a variety of majors. SOMOS members spend their time in weekly seminar classes, lab meetings (aka “business meetings”), and specialized task group meetings. The team also hangs out at “Social SOMOS” events, to have fun and grow closer as a group.
What does SOMOS do?
We work towards sustainable community development and long-term health solutions in Esfuerzo del Paraiso, a marginalized community in the outskirts of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.On our trips, we go to the community to gather data, conduct interviews, identify needs, and collaborate with the community in other ways. SOMOS has three annual trips which take place over the spring, summer, and winter breaks., In between trips,we analyze data collected on our trips, and we keep in contact with relevant U.S. and community partners to ensure progress while at the same time planning our work, developing the project, and ensuring all of this is grounded in theory.
How is SOMOS different from other development projects?
Our approach to sustainable international development emphasizes partnership with the community. We are not an immediate medical outreach organization. We focus on how community-identified needs can be addressed through long-term investment in the community. The long-term nature of SOMOS and its projects relies on having committed and focused members, who are willing and ready to make the organization part of their entire undergraduate career at William & Mary. This commitment also includes a seminar that accompanies our field work. Our seminar is our opportunity to familiarize ourselves with our grounded model that integrates sociological and public health research methods. Our members commit themselves to the organizations so they know the project very well and can make progress alongside our community partners. Our work is very similar to our sister organization, MANOS, which works toward sustainable community development in Nicaragua. MANOS applies the same theoretical framework, just in a different setting with different needs and structures. Our goal in the MANOS/SOMOS collaboration is to eventually create a model for undergraduate applied research and development projects that can be applied universally.
One fundamental piece of SOMOS is its research aspect. Our theoretical framework means students will have the knowledge of how good work might be done, but we have largely found little documentation of this type of work actually being done. Therefore, SOMOS is doing first of its kind research applying techniques from a variety of disciplines in order to quantify its impact and enhance our team’s ability to partner effectively with the community to improve health outcomes.
Team members are required to go on 1 trip a year. There are trip opportunities during summer, winter, and spring breaks. These trips are mostly funded by the students themselves; financial aid, although limited, can be provided and is funded by grants. Many students fund their trips through individual research grants or scholarships. SOMOS’ 10+ year history means the team has experience traveling and arranging food, housing, and transportation needs in-country.
SEMINAR, CREDITS, & EXPECTATIONS
Seminar: (3 credits) SOCL368 International Community Health & Development AND SOCL369/KINE369 Methods in Health Development, taken in the Fall & Spring respectively after being invited to join.
- Seminar is 2 to 3 hours per week, depending on involvement in a data group
- 1 Additional Lab credit is offered to those who elect to take it. This credit reflects the SOMOS business meetings, which are another 1.5 hours per week
- Students are expected to attend these classes every semester after joining SOMOS. After their first year on the team credit distribution will change to 0 credits for class and attendance/participation in class will be reflected in an increase to 3 lab credits.
List of Task Groups from Spring 2018:
SOMOS has a task group protocol and structure, where members have to elect to be either a part of 2 task groups or be in 1 task group and be 1 point person for another task. The minimum involvement in these groups is an additional 2 hours per week.
- Money & Finances: This point person delegates tasks of organizational finances
- Community Partners: This point person maintains information and communication with community members, as well as delegating communications tasks to other team members
- US-Partners Communications: This point person maintains communication with partners located in the United States, as well as delegating communications tasks to other team members
- Social Network Analysis (SNA): The data-based group which measures collective capacity by analyzing networks within the community and what this implies about community organization
- Domains, Tasks, Resources, Activities (DTRA): The data-based group which measures collective capacity by analyzing the different dimensions of existing community structures as a process for community organization
- Geospatial Information Sciences (GIS): The data-based group which uses ArcGIS applications to map the Esfuerzo community (houses, streets, and other markers) for navigational and analytical purposes
- Knowledge Management: The group which maintains and catalogs the information of our 12-year long project for current and future members
- Recruitment/New Member Curriculum: The group which focuses on recruiting new members and educating them on the goals and theory-based model of SOMOS.