I came to the Dominican Republic armed with questions from my students back home at Innovation Academy. I did find some experts to help me get those questions answered! One of the best things we’ve done since arriving in the DR is volunteering for a day with Dove Missions. We were picked up at our hotel by Martina and Juan, and headed to their youth development center in Puerto Plata. They just built this center recently, and as you can see, it’s still in progress. But the first floor is really nice, with a classroom space, a kitchen, and nice bathrooms. We spent the morning working with youth in the program. I gave them the cards and questions from my students at Innovation Academy, and the kids were eager to provide answers.
It was really exciting to learn from these kids. My students had written questions for the Dominican kids, and they wrote their answers on the same page. For example, Therese, Hannah, Mia, and a few of my other students asked about school in the Dominican Republic.
I found out that students here only go to school for 3-4 hours a day! They either go in the morning or afternoon, and then spend lunchtime at home with their families. So, Dove Missions provides supplementary programming for the other part of the day. After a fun morning with the kids, the volunteers headed to lunch ourselves. On the way, we saw many kids headed home from morning school. Some get picked up on motorcycles. Here, it is pretty normal to see many people on one bike, all without helmets. We ate lunch at a beautiful spot right on the beach, where we got to meet Martina’s family. A lot of my students had also wondered about the beaches here, and yes, they are beautiful! Lunch was great, and her three year old son helped serve us!
After lunch, we headed to town. Martina took us to see the area where their students live. I was really happy to have this opportunity, because many students had also asked about their homes. It was really interesting to see where the students live. Their houses are very small, but they seemed proud to show us around.
They live right on the ocean, but it’s not quite as glamorous as other places we visited. There’s so much more to say about this experience, but I think I will have to save it for another post. Check back soon to learn more about home life.
After seeing the student neighborhood, we headed back to the youth center for the afternoon group. We also got to squeeze in some time for balloon twisting, which the kids loved. All in all, it was a really special day. I’ll be coming back to Innovation Academy with lots of answers from the students here, and I learned a lot about what it’s like to live here. Thank you to Dove Missions for the experience!