Students Work to Bring “Dream” to Dominican Republic Students

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Students Work to Bring “Dream” to Dominican Republic Students

Credit: Mrs. Davey

Credit: Mrs. Davey

Credit: Mrs. Davey

Credit: Mrs. Davey

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Williston study abroad trips have given students the opportunity to visit far-flung places all over the world, but now one volunteer group is spreading its community service spirit from right here on campus.

On the recent trip to the Dominican Republic, a group of students came together to bring awareness about the D.R. and its people by organizing a fundraiser to help aid the Dream Project. The fundraiser began April 3 and goes until April 17. Students can drop off clothes and other goods, from pencils and pens and erasers to sports equipment and daily essential needs, behind Ms. Motyka’s desk. The fundraiser will kick off again at the end of the year, when students are packing to go home.

Sarah Kimmel ’20, expressed the significance of the Dream Project and its aim to help the people of the Caribbean nation.

“This foundation helps to not only augment the education system in the Dominican,” said Sarah in an email, “but also helps to promote literacy projects, and helps citizens to obtain documentation in order to be able to work. We wanted to help give the Dream Project the resources they need to continue to help the community.”

The students departed for the Dominican Republic for the week of March 4 – March 10. Based on their agenda they were only supposed to volunteer for one morning at the school. According to Sarah Markey ’22, since their experience was so worthwhile, they made time in their schedule to visit the school again for a second time, spending around three hours each time with the children.

Sarah developed a sweet, memorable friendship with one of the children at the school.

“When we first got there, this little girl named Camila came up and grabbed my hand,” Sarah said smiling. “And basically for the rest of the time we were there, we were holding hands and we did everything together.”

The schools the Dream Project supports itself are free but it is very hard to get into since the enrollment is based on a lottery system. The public schools are not the best in the Dominican, so there is a lot of competition for the schools the Dream Project offers. The one that the Williston students visited was near Cabarete, on the Northern Coast of the Dominican. It is a two-room school consisting of between 20-30 students with two teachers; one for academics and the other one for sports.

Samuel Strout, a junior, explained in detail how the fundraiser would help the people of the Dominican Republic.

“The Dream Project can use about anything and all of the stuff donated goes to improve the quality of life for the children and their parents,” said Sam in an email. “The project [is about more] than school and students. It finds jobs and gets proper government paperwork for adults too. Anything helps.”

According to the Dream Project official website, the group provides education to over 9,000 children for more than 800,000 hours. They have 14 various programs spread out through 27 communities in the Dominican Republic. The Dream Project not only aids children but many “students’ family members, social networks, and communities.”

Michael Doubleday, History and Global Studies teacher, chaperoned the trip to Dominican with Erin Davey, Assistant Dean of Students. According to Doubleday, the volunteering experience helped Williston students see the outside world from a different point of view.

“I know that the Williston students came away with an appreciation for how much the Dream Project students value their education and how they are able to find joy with the most basic facilities and resources,” Doubleday said. “It certainly gave us all a new perspective.”

He added, “Though we were the ones who were supposedly doing service work, I think it was those of us from Williston that probably gained the most from the experience.”

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