Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Day 4 - Halfway

Believe it or not, we have reached the halfway point of this trip. We awoke to another absolutely spectacular day in the Dominican Republic and headed back along the north coast to the Abreu school. It was Elizabeth, George, Max, and Romilly's turn to teach ESL to high school students.

Cows casually stroll by the Abreu school.

The importance of speaking English is astounding in the Dominican Republic. With a large portion of the economy reliant upon tourism, especially along the north coast, if one speaks English, their opportunities for employment skyrocket. Also, the amount of money one earns knowing English is exponential to one who cannot speak English in the tourist industries. For example, Otto, who works for the Dream Project, would not be given the responsibility and leadership position he has without command of English. New Hampton school students are the first native English speakers to come to Abreu school and offer lessons. While we will not teach them a full command of English, we will hopefully leave a legacy of engagement that will help the Dominican students to pursue their educational goals in a country where education is not of paramount importance.

Some of the designs beginning to take shape.

Other students continued to work on our mural projects and art classes. We also had the chance to have more less-structured time with students, which often provide the best cultural experiences. Many New Hampton students are having the chance to practice their Spanish language skills. Several students have commented, "I wish I was still taking Spanish".

We ate lunch at Playa Grande, which is a beach that has a resort beginning to be developed and constructed. It is an absolutely beautiful location. The hope is that it will become a major employer for the people in Abreu. There is a partnership between the Abreu school and the Playa Grande Foundation where Playa Grande helps finance the Montesorri and ESL classes at the school.

Playa Grande
Our lunch spot.

In the afternoon, we went on our first excursion to Laguna Gri-Gri. Located in the town of Río San Juan, the freshwater lagoon is a protected area, home to mangroves. It eventually leads to the Atlantic Ocean. We boarded a small boat and got up close with some spectacular views, as well as had a chance to support the local economy.

Laguna Gri-Gri

Ocean view from our boat.

Our local guide, Kiko, took us to a local Dominican beach where we had an hour to swim. (See twitter @Jonathan_Schwab for photos.)

We continued to do great work during the day at the Abreu school. Students are beginning to form relationships with one another and create more chances for cultural exchange.

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