Quick update on what we have been up to. A few weeks ago, Tammy and I joined up with a group of students and one other UNA staff member to head to Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic to work with local students on English Literacy. The Dominican Republic has one of the world's worst education systems with students only attending school for 400 hours a year. The government has tried to increase that to 1000 hours a year, but has had a hard time doing so due to the limited resources both from a physical building standpoint and a monetary one.
We teamed up with a group called Outreach360. O360 has a staff of four people in Monte Cristi that serve as everything from travel arrangers, to teaching assistants, to history teachers. They do an absolutely fabulous job and the kids in the town absolutely love them all.
I worked with some Kindergartners and 1st graders attempting the task of teaching pronouns. What we found was that we had to revert to colors and numbers. That was ok though as we could see the progress that was made in that week on those topics.
Tammy worked with 4th and 5th graders on the same topic and I think her group had a little more luck.
Monte Cristi is not the most well off town. It is far from the lush resorts and by the looks of it, most Americans would avoid it. What we discovered, however, was a community that loved living! They were some of the most friendly and genuine people I have ever met. Not once did we feel unsafe, in fact, it was quite the opposite. It was not uncommon for children to be playing in the park past dark without parent supervision, something we never see in our neighborhood.
Our last day there, we went to the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. If you are ever interested in a good story, read up on the history between those two countries. This was a very eye opening event as the people of Haiti rely on the Market on the DR side to purchase pretty much all of their supplies to survive on. The pain and the stress on these people's faces was very evident.
Please enjoy the video we put together highlighting the different parts of our trip.