||Alternative Spring Break 2009
The Dominican Republic
I feel very much like where I am is where I need to be.
The scents, the visuals, and the sounds were more than words and pictures could capture.
The Dominican Republic is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to.
The scenery was beautiful and it was very cool to realize that this was the raw nature Columbus saw when he came to the new world: Lush, verdant, and very green, but plagued by awful mosquitoes.
I love the smell of Latin America....the scent captivates me.
I love this country; I loved this trip. I don't want to leave. I want to preserve all the feelings I felt, all the sights I saw, all the smells I smelled. I feel so alive in this country. My senses are stripped bare. When I shower, I'm no longer concerned about the temperature of the water, I'm just happy that it's water. I don't care if the bed is comfortable, I just care that it's clean.
The children in the community that we met today at the park had spunk, attitude, and smarts.
The kids we met in the park today were quite cheeky and sociable.
The houses are very mixed here.
There are tons and tons of motorbikes that ride on the dirt roads. They're very loud and look pretty unsafe! Some families of four ride on the bike all together, wearing no helmets or anything.
The church was beautiful and airy. Three unorthodox things:
This morning (5:45 a.m.), we climbed up "El Moro", which is a mountain here in D.R.
- No coherent line for receiving the Host.
- Maracas in the choir.
- A stray dog ran down the aisle.
We attended a Catholic mass, and the church was large and beautiful, with high ceilings and rows of benches.
The mass was very laid back, with dogs running in-and-out through open doors.
The community people are extremely friendly towards us.
The rehab center was very interesting. I think that id someone goes their willingly then they could change their life around. It kind of creates a family for them were not only are they helping to treat themselves but they are also taking care of each other.
I love how the little kids cling to us when we are trying to leave the park.
I loved playing soccer with the neighborhood kids.
The kids from the town were very kind and welcoming!
The kids were a handful but in a good way and I am worn out.
The Dominican Culture
The food was great I learned about Dominican culture, and I got eaten up by mosquitoes daily, but at the end of the day knowing that the kids are singing "asi asi asi" and ready to brush their teeth after every meal makes me happy on the inside.
Time is so strange here! It goes by fast, but each moment in time seems so slow!
Everything here seems to play off contrasts: The big luxurious houses, next to the small, tin ones.
Tonight we saw In the Time of the Butterflies. The movie was great and beautiful. It not only told a very inspirational cultural true story but also sent a strong message to women.
Here everyone is so open and caning to each other. That openness is so important for a safe community.
Every culture, person, etc. is unique in its own way. Seeing those hard working individuals today opened up my eyes to how stretched out ambition can be across the world.
I jumped right in to the customs, the food, and the rules.
I wish life back in the U.S. were less stressful and more peaceful. We tend to plan for the future all of the time while here it's all about living in the present.
Now that I can see this for myself it really hits home because it's not something that I just read from a book, but something that I am experiencing first hand, through experience. I feel that more people should be exposed to world affairs because it deters ignorance.
The English Institute
Our toilet-flushing abilities were limited to the motto, "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down," which took some time getting used to!
The showers are cold and have really low pressure, so we literally take "navy" showers.
We played games and made friends with the other volunteer students.
Even though we follow so many rules at the Institute, ironically, I feel much more free and able to think and have fun with everyone. The rules give us this commonality, which brings us closer together.
Our schedule really allows us to see a lot of the culture in the town and the community's way of living.
We threw the food we didn't finish eating from our plates, into a bucket for the animals.
Today we got to see the orphanage. The kids were drawn between playing with us and keeping their distance.
The kids at the orphanage seem very friendly, but I noticed a few who were a bit different. Some may have developmental disorders, but I'm not sure if that could be caused from neglect.
I just wanted to pick them up and hug them!
Orphanage Outreach gives these children that care, love and motivation they need to succeed one day.
We taught in class today, but I wonder which students learned more, the elementary or the college ones.
The teachers all seem like volunteers who try (mostly) their best, but trouble classes received no outside help from administrators. Also, we were told students can only attend school because they have a uniform.
It saddened me when three young children were punished for cursing by being locked in a hot room with the door and shutters closed. Another cross cultural experience indeed.
I didn't want to leave the school. They made me feel free, like a kid again.
Every bit of help in the education system here counts.
Grades were tripled up into class rooms, which made the educating process more difficult. To me they seemed more welcoming with having us their.
I was inspired to help start something that informs teachers how to teach.
Education is the only way that this country can stand a chance and advance.
The kids were great!
Their smiles and eagerness to learn was clearly seen throughout the four days of teaching at different schools in the surrounding areas.
I was capable to "jump right in’” I loved the socializing with the children.
Schooling a mute child was the ultimate test of my ability to empathize and remain patient. I felt very sorry for the mute little boy because our entire lesson was based on an oral he could not understand. For that reason, I sat off to the side and used hand motions together with dramatic facial expressions to try to communicate part of the lesson to him. I’m not sure if he was able to comprehend the lesson this way but I was able to get a smile out of him.
Nothing can compare to seeing kids learn...
It's amazing how such simple things such as conversation and smiling can make a child's day.
The closer to the English Institute the schools were, the worse behaved they were.
I can't get over how the simplest things can make a child smile.
Today we went to a school that had never had O.O. volunteers go and teach them.
The children there were great! They paid attention and were obedient surprisingly enough.
They were eager to learn and at the end of class asked us how to say certain phrases in English.
It's such a great feeling to see kids learn and the joy they undergo when they understand.
The afternoon classes were more rowdy and hyper. It was a huge challenge just to get them to settle down.
Every child has potential and deserves an education.
I feel I learned more from her that she learned from me.
It was great to see the children wanting to learn.
It is interesting to see the similarities and differences between the songs we sing in the US and the songs they sing in the DR.
Today was a great teaching day. The children were very receptive and attentive; you could see their want to learn new things. They were simply perfect.
People crossed the river to avoid the bridge traffic. Dajabòn- I suddenly felt really warm and filled with tears of confusion, love, and compassion. I felt really connected to the whole atmosphere.
They were there to try and get all the resources they could get and trade amongst themselves and with the Dominicans.
I wanted to blend in, ask questions, witness different interactions between the people of the two countries al behind an unbiased eye.
Women were carrying amazing amounts of weight on their heads with perfect balance. Men were pulling giant carts that locked as if they should be pulled by horses. Children were constantly tugging at you for money or to clean your shoes.
Dajabon was a crazy, chaotic outdoor market that only opens on Monday and Friday for free trade between the neighbors of Hispaniola. We ran through a chaotic mess of third world; a labyrinth of heat, flies, burning exhaust fumes from the tailpipes of motorcycles. Dajabon was the right combination of fear, excitement, and adventure...A UN peacekeeping force...an area of extreme conflict.
There were people rushing and pushing everywhere simply trying to get enough food so they can last through the week.
Simply put, I felt productive.
As with every service project, I leave exhausted, rewarded, and wanting more.
As overwhelming as my experience working with children has been, I now realize all it really takes is practice.
"...seeing what we've seen has given me a greater compassion for the care of humanity."
"There's something here that truly brings out the "hero within"!"
I came here and did something for the greater good. I feel sad to be leaving because all my worries seemed to have gone away when we got here.
Overall, I feel sad that it had to come to an end because there are still many things to be done in this country.
Just the realization that the trip is coming to an end makes me feel hollow.
I will never forget how much a little smile can go and how essential it is to communication love.
It's difficult to capture every single emotion that I feel right now because they have been so many throughout this week."
U.S. Americans take things for granted. This trip was a learning experience and I cannot say it enough how glad
I truly learned and practiced being Gumby and willing to jump right in.
I have learned that I am fearless, intelligent, and bold. I'm not afraid to keep my place, but I know where that place is. I have gained the confidence of being who I want to be and how to execute it.
Seriously, is it possible to teach peace if we are not at peace with one another?
These children bring me back to my childhood, when things were simple and laughter was a constant activity.
My family was so nervous about me coming, but if they could see this and experience it for themselves, they would understand.
I learned the importance of being flexible and capable of adapting to distinct situations. All people have the capacity to adapt and change, but seldom do.
A more refined version of my personality came to surface.
I am changed forever, but definitely for good.
"Every second counts; every smile, every conversation, every activity--this is our time to make a difference."
"I wish I lived a life like one of them..."
This trip made me think about how I need to stop and appreciate all the great things in my life.
Hatred is everywhere and hurts everyone.
Medical health should be something everyone can have but unfortunately some people just live sick until they die because they don't have money.
This experience really made me think about the little stuff I at times take for granted.
For more information, please contact:
Levermore Global Scholars Program
p - 516.877.4183
f - 516.237.8522
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This page was last modified on April 16, 2009.