Student Service Trip to the Dominican Republic

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Student Service Trip to the Dominican Republic

Courtesy of Long

Courtesy of Long

Courtesy of Long

Jasper Long

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Over this past summer, a group of Kent students, with teacher chaperones Ms. Thomsen and Ms. Badecker, went on a week-long service trip to the Dominican Republic. On the evening of June 9th, they flew out from New York and arrived in the city of Santiago de los Caballeros. However, their destination was not yet in sight. After boarding a bus, the group travelled another three hours to an Outreach360 building in the town of Monte Cristi.

Monte Cristi is much more than just sun-drenched beaches and milky-white salt flats. The 19th and 20th century saw this trading town prosper, ignite the spark for the Cuban Revolution, and then fall into decline after their resistance to the dictatorial Rafael Trujillo. A diverse town, Monte Cristi is home to ethnic Dominicans and Haitians alike.

The mission of this year’s trip was to teach local children English, as the country lacked local English teachers. With the help of teacher chaperones, Kent students created lesson plans to teach the children English vocabulary by using engaging and fun activities. The local students, initially reluctant to engage with the volunteer student teachers, soon grew to enjoy their company. The volunteers learned to adapt to the needs of the students, speaking Spanish to create a smooth dialogue. During breaks, volunteers and students mingled and learned about each other’s stories.

The local community also welcomed Kent volunteers with open arms, who enjoyed local food and drink. In the evenings, students learned about the culture and history of the Dominican Republic, furthering their appreciation and understanding of the local culture.

The bonds formed between the volunteers and the students made the goodbyes extremely difficult. Many local children asked our students to take pictures with them, and some attempted to convince them to stay.

Madi Baltagulov ’20 remarks, “I learned how to effectively communicate with children of different cultures, especially to teach. I also learned a lot about the complex racial relations of this diverse country.” Needless to say, this was an impactful and memorable experience for every single Kent volunteer.

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