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Service Learning

Day 7

Today we had our culture day! Although we were all sad to not be able to teach, we were excited to explore the Dominican Republic. We started off the day with some yummy pancakes to fuel our long day. We then took a private bus to the cemetery of Monte Cristi, where we learned that in the Dominican Republic, tombs are above ground because of the water levels, and there is a jefe, or boss, to whom people give offerings for good omens. It was interesting to see the class system shown through the tombs, but everyone is welcome.

We then visited the Cuban museum, where we learned about Jose Marti and Maximo Gomez, who signed the Cuban Declaration of Independence.

Then, it was on to a five-generation banana farm. We learned the interesting process of how bananas grow, and the owners were generous enough to give us our own bundle of bananas!

Afterwards, we were treated to lunch at a local caterer, and it was delicious! We then stopped at a souvenir shop before our hike on El Morro, a beautiful mountain. We swung on swings at the top of the hike and then went into the ocean at a private beach below. It was gorgeous! We spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the ocean, playing frisbee on the beach, just having a lot of fun together.

To end the day, we came back to Outreach360 where Leonardo, the artist, delivered his paintings, and we all shared in a closing ceremony.

Following dinner, we went to the supermarket, ice cream shop, and juice café one last time. This experience has been awesome for all of us, and we are sad to go, but we are grateful for everything! 

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Day 6

Wow, what a bittersweet day! Our last day of teaching was filled with joy, laughter, and even some tears as we said goodbye to some amazing students with whom we had bonded throughout the week. Having woken up around 7:00 a.m., the group went through our usual morning routine. We devoured delicious scrambled eggs, toast, papaya, and hot chocolate. Following this feast, we ventured up the hill, through town, to the public school. The energy of the students was contagious, and our exhaustion from the day before quickly disappeared. An exciting recess was followed by two enjoyable classes. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbyes to some great friends.

After our typical juice run at Cafe de Mecho, we made our way back to the Outreach360 building for a typical Dominican lunch of rice, beans, chicken, and fruit. Following lunch, we headed to the salt flats just down the street where Manuel gave us a fantastic tour of the ponds to see how sea salt is made. Seawater is concentrated in shallow, man-made ponds before the seawater evaporates, which leaves behind large salt crystals that are then commercially sold for table salt.

Some of our group then picked up awesome souvenirs before heading back for siesta. A welcomed break from the action gave way to some lesson planning where we prepared for our final day in the Learning Center. The afternoon session of teaching went swimmingly, and we truly discovered the impact that we had made on the students in just four short days. Another delicious Dominican meal at dinner consisted of mashed plantains, marinated onions, friend eggs, fresh pineapple, and rice pudding. The group then headed up onto the Outreach roof for an amazing sunset and a thought-provoking reflection with Michael, our group leader.

We then made an ice cream stop at Bon, where the whole group was treated to some helado delicioso.

Afterwards, we had the pleasure of spectating a local softball game before making our final return to the Outreach360 building. Everyone agreed that this was the best day of the trip. Between the energetic classes, awe-inspiring salt flats, and the group ice cream run, this really was a day to remember. We look forward to enjoying one more full day in Monte Cristi tomorrow! –Aidan Dowd ’20 and Kyle Mele ’20

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Day 5

Wednesday was an exciting day! A group of us woke up at 5:30 a.m. to walk to the pier and enjoy the beautiful sunrise. Breakfast included delicious cornmeal, buttered toast, hard-boiled eggs, fresh cantaloupe, and mangoes straight off the tree!

We returned to Colegio San José for our third day of teaching, and the experience became even more rewarding. During our morning recess, some of us played five-on-five basketball, while other spent quality time with the kids and played games like tag, frisbee, hopscotch, jump robe, chalk drawing, and blowing bubbles. A group of students were even practicing a dance that they planned to perform as a class on Friday, their last day of school.

The classes we taught were amazing since the students responded really well to the added energy we brought! The connections that we experienced in the last two days blossomed into genuine friendships. That’s what has made this trip so special.

On our way home from the school, we returned to our favorite juice shop and had a relaxing siesta. The activities commenced after lunch with lesson planning for both the public schools and the afternoon Learning Center. We then had a wonderful dinner of spaghetti, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, and watermelon. And for our evening activity…dancing! A dance instructor came to the Outreach360 site and taught us some Dominican dances, such as merengue and bachata. A few of us even got our hair braided from a local woman who also brought along some homemade bracelets. We then finished the night with a fun dance party and karaoke sesh! Goodnight, NA! –Sofia Wachtmeister ’20

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Day 4

It was an early morning. Some of us woke up at 5:00 a.m. and walked to the beach or nearby El Morro mountain to watch the sunrise. We then returned for breakfast at 8:00 a.m. where we had toast, scrambled eggs, and fresh pineapple! Then, we packed up and left for our second day at Colegio San José. Knowing the children already and knowing what to prepare allowed the majority of us student-teachers to feel that the second day was more productive and fun!

We finished our morning teaching session by walking back to Outreach360, but not before stopping for the most delicious fresh juice–mango, pineapple, and guava.

We then ate lunch–rice and beans, eggplant, and watermelon–followed with an Outreach session on service philosophies. We enjoyed an hour of siesta time when we all played cards with each other. At 2:00, we started planning our lessons for tomorrow and worked on the curriculum for our afternoon English Learning Center classes, which showed improvement from our first day!

Dinner was a treat–Taco Tuesday. It was definitely a fan favorite. They also made fresh pineapple juice for us–delicious! We then had a short Dominican history lesson, followed by a great competitive game to see what we remembered. Then, we watched a movie titled In the Time of the Butterflies, based on the true story of the three Mirabal sisters who were murdered in 1960 for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the dictatorship. We learned about the dictators of the past and now have a deeper understanding for the troubles that women have had to overcome in the DR. We ended the long day with our group reflections and prepared for tomorrow. Goodnight, NA!

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Day 3

Today was our first day of teaching. It was a new experience for all of us! We taught the second, third, and fourth grade at a local public school named Colegio San José. We had to handle a lot of energy, but we were delighted by the eagerness that the children showed towards learning English. Competitive spirits were high as students jumped, ran, and even slid across the ground in order to score more points for their team during learning games we had put together. We also taught in Outreach360’s English Immersion Program and spoke to students who came in on their own time to learn English. Afterwards, we walked out to the beach to admire the sunset off of a beautiful pier. We are all extremely excited for our next few days of teaching and exploring Monte Cristi.

–Pooja Mahesh ’20


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