Service-learning trip to the Dominican Republic 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.41.39 PM
Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.41.39 PM
This spring break, 6 fabulous SLA students and 3 teachers organized another service-learning trip to the Dominican Republic. Below are words from the students, as well as pictures from our trip. Click here and here to see more pictures posted on our DonorsChoose pages.

It's hard to put our experience into words. Our trip was amazing, yet at times, heartbreaking. We all experienced some level of culture shock. Before our trip, we read articles and talked with a social justice advocate about the humanitarian crisis created by the Dominican government stripping people of Haitian descent of their citizenship; but nothing could prepare us for seeing children living in bateyes. We could not fathom how the government could intentionally deprive humans of their access to clean water, work, land, and education. At the same time, it was exhilarating to stick our hands in plastic buckets of cement and work alongside people to literally build the walls of their future houses and community center. We also played soccer with the kids in the batey, used our Spanish to connect with locals, built bee boxes (to replenish the bee population needed for a healthy environment) and learned about the seven elements of Human Security. We grew so much from this experience and have new insights to seek practical solutions and to continue investigating pressing questions. Thank you, everyone, for believing in us!

With tremendous gratitude,

Trinity (12th grade), Bella (12th grade), Avery (12th grade), Amelia (12th grade), Kia (11th grade), Rifah (11th grade)
Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.41.49 PM
Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.41.49 PM
After a 3 mile hike up to the top of Brisón Mountain.
Learning salsa, bachata and merengue with community members.
Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.43.10 PM
Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.43.10 PM
Building bee boxes

Comments (66)

Benjamin Seing (Student 2019)
Benjamin Seing

When hearing about the project, I heard the word 'volunteer' and 'help' and I got excited. Helping people especially from another country is a key heart to happiness for me. I would contribute everything to help in any terms or conditions like I really don't care to help anyone with a better life. I would do everything and anything to help with the trip. If it takes a lot of encouragement to fundraise the trip, then so it will be. Anything is possible to sell things to raise enough money to get to the goal for the trip.

Hamidou Doumbia (Student 2019)
Hamidou Doumbia

I enjoyed the presentation about the trip. I heared that help the community which I think is awesome. The biggest problem was the price for just a week. I known that I can help with the community and try to explain about philadelphia. Try to find new friends.The way to get for me will be selling candy at home and school.

Eric Gorski (Student 2019)
Eric Gorski

I think it would be a great experience to participate in. I enjoyed the presentation and it seems like a lot of fun. The only problem I learned about was the price for the trip. I really would like to do something like this but my parents do not make enough money to be able to pay for it. However I will sell different items or do some fundraising to help me get enough money to go on the trip.

Naima DeBrest (Student 2019)
Naima DeBrest

I enjoyed the presentation that the girls did about their trip and it made me very excited to do something like this. I have always wanted to study abroad and this would be the perfect opportunity for me to do it for a short period of time. I also became more enthusiastic about doing this when I foiund out all the activities that they did to help people. I enjoy community service and they got to build community centers and bond with less fortunate people which is a great way to broaden you lense of the world. I hope to get this opportunity one day.

Kaitlyn Petroski-Rimmer (Student 2019)
Kaitlyn Petroski-Rimmer

Travelling outside the country has been something that I've wanted to do, so this project is very interesting to me. The fact that you get to help people while on the trip makes it an incredible opportunity because I love helping people. I know, from doing projects that are similar to this one around my neighborhood, that any help is good help. I would be able to contribute another helper who works hard and enjoys what they are doing. I would love this opportunity, so I'm going to volunteer a lot more than I do now and try to stay updated on trips like this.

Majo Bostani (Student 2019)
Majo Bostani

I heard that this trip was a really interesting, educational, and fun experience. I've always loved the idea of traveling outside of the USA to learn more about other cultures, so this is my opportunity. I've always wanted to learn about Cuba and the Yank Tanks and old Russian airplanes they have there, so that will be my opportunity to go there, if that happens. I would contribute with my knowledge about ways to navigate places and my photography skills on that trip. For this to happen, I am going to volunteer a lot more, especially at my EAA Chapters, to help get youth interested into aviation.

Matthew Milligan (Student 2019)
Matthew Milligan

I've always have been interested in the idea of traveling outside of America and learning about different cultures, so I've read many articles about travel. Also, my older sister and cousin have traveled outside of the country multiple times and have had really good experiences from the stories they told me, so I want to travel myself. I would contribute hard work and an open mind that is ready to learn if I had an experience like this. I guess I'll try to be updated about trips and work hard to try and make it happen for me.

Ariana Flores (Student 2019)
Ariana Flores

I’m definitely interested in this trip and will take the necessary actions to hopefully go through with it myself. The community service really interests me because I love helping others. I also want to create a charity when I grow up so this would give me some insight on the matter. Also, I've done lots of fundraising for breast cancer so I can definitely come up with plans financial wise.

Leo Cassel-Siskind (Student 2019)
Leo Cassel-Siskind

I would want to consider participating, but at least this year it was all girls. It would be better if there were boys going on the trip in other years. I'm also not a big fan of traveling which is the other reason I might not want to. I think I'd provide an athletic never stop moving attitude to a trip because I never get tired.

James Klenk (Student 2019)
James Klenk

learning about culture first hand is important because you can read about something but if you don't experience the environment that they live in you wont understand there choice.

Olivia Musselman (Student 2019)
Olivia Musselman

I love to learn about new cultures and fully experience them. I plan on travelling a lot and studying languages and art in different countries.This seems like such a great opportunity to experience the true culture of the Dominican Republic without having to be a tourist. By participating in something like this, I could bond with the community members and make an impact. I want to get more involved with CIC and do more community service.

Leila Lorenze (Student 2019)
Leila Lorenze

I Have always been interested in international travel, especially when my mom told me about her experience. I could be of a lot of help with the translation part and I could help build and plant. I actually have applied to go to Spain but, I will go next year. Possibly Cuba and/or Peru.

Lauren Nicolella (Student 2019)
Lauren Nicolella

I would definitely want to visit mostly because of how beautiful the place looks in general, and I like how the girls talked about what they learned through the different people. I would contribute my thoughts and opinions as well as contributions to activities. The steps I would take to make this happen would be to convince my parents overall, and save up money, also keep going to CIC.

Antonio DeRock (Student 2019)
Antonio DeRock

I would like too go on a trip like this because we get to explore a more natural environment. We're so used to the city, it would be nice to get to see more animals and see the beauty of the world. I could try and help the people around, like you guys did. I may start going going to CIC.

Justin Stewart (Student 2019)
Justin Stewart

I’ve always been interested in international travel. After the DR presentation and seeing how I could help the people around me while taking in the view, I’m really excited about the possibility of going. If I were to go, I could only hope to be as successful in aiding other communities as this group was. I would go with a really enthusiastic and open mindset, I’d want to come home knowing more than I did when I left. I’m really excited to possibly participate and until that day comes I’ll try to fundraise and save all that I can.

Ameer Johnson (Student 2019)
Ameer Johnson

The trip looks very interesting and really educational. I don't think I would enjoy things like taking a 3-hour hike, but everything else looks fun and I think I might be able to learn a few things.

Leah Bradstreet (Student 2019)
Leah Bradstreet

I totally want to go on this trip with this program because I have always REALLY wanted to travel outside of the country since forever! I know that it's possible now with this program if I just try to raise the money required!

Amelia Benamara (Student 2019)
Amelia Benamara

Hearing and looking at the presentation about the experience on the DR trip sounded like a lot of fun and also they worked on making the environment better for the kids that were suffering by the government. The project clearly opened the eyes of the lucky people that went on it and it also helped me in thinking this is something I'd want to do next year.

Shilo Kendall (Student 2019)
Shilo Kendall

Seeing this presentation it has really made me want to go and do a service project. It sounds like an amazing experience to talk to the community. I could contribute knowledge and hardwork. I have already taken steps to doing a service project with people to people.

Paxton Wentzell (Student 2019)
Paxton Wentzell

Watching the presentation the trips seem not only good in terms of helping people out but it also looks fun. I usually don't travel for community service because I didn't know it was an option. Now that I know how prominent it is to go to foreign lands for community service I will definitely participate whether it's for SLA, or just for me!

John Sugrue (Student 2019)
John Sugrue

This seems like a great opportunity, in general. Traveling overseas would give me a good opportunity to hone my language skills, as well as make new friendships that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. The activities to do seem abundant and interesting, and I would help fundraise in order to make a trip like this possible for myself and other students.

Jowon Dorbor (Student 2019)
Jowon Dorbor

Seeing the DR presentation made me think of traveling more and learning about other cultures. This is a fun way to test out how much spanish we know and also if we can understand people (other than Srta. Manuel) speaking spanish fluently. I would love to participate in this.

Ayala Silverman (Student 2019)
Ayala Silverman

Seeing the presentation made me want to travel more and experience places outside of the country. I want to be able to help people all around the world and I want these people to have opportunities that they might not usually have. Going on trips like this costs a lot of money, so I would have to save up, as well as look into where I want to go.

Marcin Czapla (Student 2019)
Marcin Czapla

Seeing the DR trip presentation was very knowledgeable. I learned how such small tasks, such as building a bottle house, can have such a big impact on the community in a place like the DR. The stories about the different sites they saw, and different activities they did sounded really exciting to me and might be something I might like to do in the future. What I could contribute to an experience like this would have to be just myself as a person, whether it be helping out during the work days, or trying to make a happy and healthy environment happen during the days off, I would make sure there are good vibes going around all the time. If I ever did decide to go, i would do the obvious and try to fundraise the money that we would need to afford the trip.

Nicholas Ryan (Student 2019)
Nicholas Ryan

When I heard about the trip itself, I already wanted to go. I've always wanted to go to South/Central America and explore the cultures that reside within each country. I've always wanted to become fluent in Spanish and the best place is to be completely surrounded by Spanish-speaking people. I can contribute a lot of things to a project like this. I can contribute my perseverance, my imagination, and my stubbornness to this project. I would raise money through making art and selling it. I am really good at caricatures and I am just learning how to custom design shoes. Both of these types of art are high in demand and people will pay a lot of money for these types of art. This is what I would do to ensure that I am able to go participate in these service-learning programs.

Jakob Klemash-Kresge (Student 2019)
Jakob Klemash-Kresge

learning about The DR was fun. I liked that they got to help a community of people that were in need. I would want to help people from overseas . This would give me the chance to do that. I would help that community by playing sports with some of the kids and possibly teaching them some English. This is why i would sign up and go abroad

Meeghan Kersten (Student 2019)
Meeghan Kersten

Seeing the DR presentation was amazing. All the different amazing things that they did I want to have an opportunity to do what they did or something like that. I have always liked the idea of studying abroad but was afraid I would get homesick but this offers an amazing opportunity. I would be able to go to another country for a week it being to help others as well as enjoy the scenery. I would try to help as many people as I could whether it being physically or emotionally. In the presentation I saw that the students helped build houses as well as bee boxes. Both of those things as well all the other things they did looked like a lot of fun. If I am given an opportunity to go on the trip I will do everything I possibly can to fundraise enough to go o the trip.

Israt Jahan (Student 2019)
Israt Jahan

I heard that it was really fun experience and everyone had fun time so that's what want to make me want to participate and also it will be an fun experience. My ideas and leadership. I will make sure i do everything that i have to do to go to this trip.

Israt Jahan (Student 2019)
Israt Jahan

I heard that it was really fun experience and everyone had fun time so that's what want to make me want to participate and also it will be an fun experience. My ideas and leadership. I will make sure i do everything that i have to do to go to this trip.

Afi Koffi (Student 2019)
Afi Koffi

I've always been interested in international travel. After the DR presentation and seeing how I could help the people around me while taking in the view, I'm really excited about the possibility of going. If I were to go, I could only hope to be as successful in aiding other communities as this group was. I would go with a really enthusiastic and open mindset, I'd want to come home knowing more than I did when I left. I'm really excited to possibly participate and until that day comes I'll try to fundraise and save all that I can.

William Huang (Student 2019)
William Huang

Who would have ever thought that traveling abroad could be more than just a vacation? Certainly not me. Traveling elsewhere and exploring the world beyond what we're used to is something I think we all desire in some way or form. Even introverts who stay mostly at home likely have somewhere they want to go that they often hear about online. What the presenters said really me more sure about traveling abroad for service learning. That being said, I'm going to take what they said with a grain of salt. I don't think raising over two thousand dollars will be as easy as they said, especially for a group of students, but maybe they're right.

I don't really know what I can contribute to the experience. Honestly, how do other people answer this question because I really want to know. I like helping people because it makes me feel useful. After hearing about what the SLA have done, I'm inspired to do the same. Because we are all part of one world, helping people outside of the U.S. will surely make a positive change nationwide.

To make something like this happen, I am willing to spend my time fundraising for our goals.

Ailin Li (Student 2019)
Ailin Li

The presentation of the DR trip was really exciting. The fact that they got to help others, hike up a mountain, and live across a beautiful scene makes me want to have their experience. I can contribute to the experience by participating in everything we would do and being positive the whole time. To make this actually happen, I could fundraise and work hard.

Lilly Roman (Student 2019)
Lilly Roman

The amount of experience you guys gained on this trip is incredible. It sounds like an amazing trip and an awesome learning experience. If i were to contribute, I would put in a lot of hardwork and effort to help along with a good attitude. I am definitely interested and I would love to begin fundraising and work in order to get there.

Kimberly Gucciardi-Kriegh (Student 2019)
Kimberly Gucciardi-Kriegh

This trip would really inspire me to learn more about other cultures and help people who really need it. You also get to experience another culture first hand and reflect on the differences in our communities. I could contribute a fun attitude to each activity we do. I am really interested in taking one of these trips, I could start fundraising and saving money now so in a few years I can go.

Maciej Pokora (Student 2019)
Maciej Pokora

The presentation was executed perfectly and really got me wanting to go. Just the idea of going on a trip to another country to help AND relax and see the amazing sites is a hook. This seems like something I would want to raise money for and want to remember this wonderful experiance.

Deja Winfield (Student 2019)
Deja Winfield

Hearing of all of the great life experiences the three who had came in to speak to us made me want to experience new things in different countries, I would really think of going to on one of these trips with the school. I really enjoyed the stories.

Alan Li (Student 2019)
Alan Li

From listening to the presentation, I want to participate in an international service-learning project like this because of the experiences there could be while visiting an environment that I have never been to before. I could contribute to the experience by helping others more. If I could go there, I will first raise a fundraiser online and send it to people who I know. After doing that, I could finally go.

Sarah Berg (Student 2019)
Sarah Berg

I would love to participate in a service learning project like this. The presentation given in class was very informative and highlighted the pros and cons of the trip. What really captivated me were the activities students helped out with and the work they put into to help people in need out. The service opportunities were interesting, educational, and looked like a lot of fun. As well as this, the chance to emerge yourself in another country's culture and people looked amazing. If I was to go on a trip like this, I would contribute a whole lot of hard work. I'm willing to take on any challenge, whether it's hiking up a mountain, building a water bottle house, or interacting with people who speak another language. If given the chance I would put a lot of energy and passion into a service learning trip like this. The first step I will take will be to do research on the organization's website to find the trip(s) I am best suited for. Whether this could be because of a skill I have, the cost of the trip, or the topics involved in it. I know I am already interested in looking more into the Cuba trip Srta. Manuel was talking about in class.

Zoey Tweh (Student 2019)
Zoey Tweh

I was amazed by the presentation given. I learned so much about what it really means to do service abroad, I never had it explained to me like that. I loved the fact that they got to meet over 30 new people that you live with for a week. I love that the people are from all over the country and world so that one is just constantly learning and expanding their perspective the entire trip. I love how authentic the experience is, from what they eat, to their activities even during free time. I always prefer hands-on work and they seem to do just that when they go. I love to travel, learn, help, embrace different cultures, and meet new people so this trip just seemed like a dream. I could contribute my passion for solving world issues, my willingness to learn, photography & filmmaking (do not reference my previous benchmark as a measurement of my skills Ja Ja Ja), my writing skills (I would love to write about both what is going on in other parts of the world, the amazing experience, how these trips are vital to every child's experience, pretty much anything), and just overall my burning passion for hands-on change.
I am definitely interested in going on the trip and will begin to do more community service. This has definitely inspired me. Even though I was not in the club this year I have been a part a lot of organizations including grantmaking where I've worked to give back to our city. I will begin researching and finding ways to already to help with the DR struggles and see what I can contribute now. I will also begin looking into different applications and requirements. As well I will work harder on improving my Spanish vocabulary and using it both inside and outside of the classroom.

Kenneth Carroll (Student 2019)
Kenneth Carroll

As of right now I'm very open to study abroad or to participate in community work in another country. Some things that me that looks fun and interesting about it is just experiencing another culture and learning how they live. Another interesting topic is to help someone who is less fortunate than myself or someone who is in need. To the experience I could offer a open ear to listen to locals experiences and advice about their heritage and culture. Im not gonna try to pursue to study abroad just yet in my life but if the opportunity comes about i would love to see the world.

Bronwyn Goldschneider (Student 2019)
Bronwyn Goldschneider

I definitely hope to study abroad or participate in an international service learning project in the future. After seeing the DR presentation, I think I've given more thought to the idea of experiencing, learning about and helping out in an environment completely different from mine. I hope to someday be fluent in Spanish, and I'm told all the time that the best way to become fluent in any language is to live in it's home country. To me, learning to be fluent in any language is one of the many gifts that come with helping out and experiencing a foreign country. My contribution to this trip would be to work my best at any task I am given and make a sincere effort to be the best teammate and friend I could be during the time spent there. I would also try my best to be mindful of the customs and social norms of the country I am in and act respectfully to represent my own country and school well. To be able to go on this trip, I would ask my parents and close family for contributions first and then earn the rest on my own through fundraisers.

Catherine Long (Student 2019)
Catherine Long

After seeing the presentation and the pictures the trip looks fantastic and enjoyable. I've always wanted to travel overseas and visit different sites. For contributing I would help out as much as I can for others, trying to bring them lots of happiness. As for being able to go on the trip I would have to ask my mother and make a fundraiser.

Jayla Wright (Student 2019)
Jayla Wright

Seeing the presentation on the Dominican Republic made me want to do something like this because it seemed like a fun and mind changing experience that would put me in an environment that would help me practice my Spanish with people who are fluent in the language. I would contribute by helping the people and by spreading the new of what's going on there so more people could help. I would sell things so I could afford to go on the trip.

Kiah Johnson (Student 2019)
Kiah Johnson

After reading and looking at these pictures explaining what people do once they get there, I would love to go. I would get to be in a new environment, learn more about other people and their lives, and I would be able to have fun while doing all of it. I think I would be able to contribute to the people I meet my experiences and opinions of being there and what my life is like back where I come from, I can teach them many new things. To be able to go on the trip, I would probably really create my own fundraiser for my family to help me go to the Dominican Republic just like I did once before to go to Florida.

Cynthia To (Student 2019)
Cynthia To

After seeing and hearing about Dominican Republic experiences, I think I would like to do something like this, because you get to go somewhere new, you get to help people in need, not everybody get to do this, and also you get to meet new people from all around the world. I could contribute everything that I can give them, teaching the kids and the adults what they didn't know already, and getting to help others. The steps that I need to take to make it happen is by talking about it to my advisor about it, help fundraise, volunteering more, and asking my family.

David Roberts (Student 2019)
David Roberts

I am not really interested in going over seas to do things like. Nothing about this particular trip turned me off, but I just would not enjoy something like this. I did see people going around and selling things, and to contribute, I could buy some of what is being sold or just donate a small amount to the cause.

Emily Pugliese (Student 2019)
Emily Pugliese

I would love to participate in a trip like this. It would be an amazing experience to see and go beyond what we have known and learn that we can still be happy without the things we thought we couldn't live without. For this experience I can contribute anything I have that they can take, I can give them my time and teach the kids and the families things they didn't know about before. I can play with them, I can make them feel important when others don't. I would take a lot of steps I would email or send out letters and help fundraise, I would help with whatever part that I can even if I can't . I would still love to help the organization for doing such a wonderful, helping, thing.

Autumn Lor (Student 2019)
Autumn Lor

After seeing and talking about how amazing DR is, I think this is something I would want to do, because it's just an amazing place and you get to help others in need. Not only do you get to help but you also get to meet other people from all over the world. Plus you guys seem like you had fun on your day's off and working days, they had so many fun things to do.

Aysha Siddiquee (Student 2019)
Aysha Siddiquee

From the presentation and the way they described the Dominican Republic, I would love to go on this trip since there are many opportunities to help others and since the trip is based around helping those in need, as well as giving back. As well as learning about new the culture while helping others out is a great way to get new experience. I could contribute what I already Know about being around different cultures for the first time, also I am bilingual so that is something I could contribute. The steps that I would take are that I will get others involved and help with the fundraising and creating new ideas to help with the fundraising.

Nzinga Suluki-Bey (Student 2019)
Nzinga Suluki-Bey

I liked your presentation and am excited about how this experience might change and shape you. I see through the pictures that you had an amazing time and I hope someday to be able to go across the world and contribute to different countries and races that change the course in history.

Gregory Tasik (Student 2019)
Gregory Tasik

After seeing the presentation, I was really interested in participating in an international service - learning project mainly because of the people you meet and the lives you can really change. I thought it was so cool that the girls met people from all over the world. If I were to go on one of these trips, I would be up for anything to help out people in need. With this said, I understand these trips cost a lot of money and I would try to do fundraisers and ask out help from family members who could help me with the financial side of the trip.

Eric Valenti (Student 2019)
Eric Valenti

From the presentation and all the pictures seen, you can tell that this is definitely a site to be witnessed . I would want to help out anyone who was in need and would love to see the sites there, In any attempt to help, I would try to help get as much money as I could to go on this trip.

Julia Furman (Student 2019)
Julia Furman

I heard this is a really cool experience, and I would really like to try it out. It horrifies me to see people deprived of their rights and citizenship, and I will do whatever I can to help them out. I´ll start by asking my parents for permission to go, and then I´ll save up money for the trip. I definitely want to go on this trip. It seems like a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Nile Ward (Student 2019)
Nile Ward

Traveling abroad sounds like an experience. It would be nice to meet people from other countries and see their ways of life. I've had plans for the future to help others with entrepreneurship, creating more jobs in Philly, so helping people in other countries would sound great!

Emily Pugliese (Student 2019)
Emily Pugliese

I definitely would love to do this. It sounds like a great experience. Since this summer I did the same thing but went to Haiti, I also believe the sight of things were heart breaking , but yet wonderful. It changes the way you view things at home and how much you should be more grateful for what you have instead of what you don't because the people there already have such little. I believe it makes you learn to appreciate.