A little more than a month ago, I set out for an eye-opening experience that would change my life forever. As nighttime fell, I packed the last few necessities that would fit into my jam-packed suitcase. I left Rider at 4:30 a.m. on Friday, March 9 for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (DR). I was participating in the Alternative Spring Break, which was offered through Catholic Campus Ministries.
Every year during spring break, a group of 10 students and two chaperones travels down to DR and volunteers at Hogar Escuela Armando Rosenberg, a school and orphanage for many of the children in the surrounding neighborhood. The students are chosen through an application and interview process with the chaperones and campus minister. This year, the trip had only seven students. But that was of no matter because in the end we had a blast.
Our task this year was to paint an entire building (roof and all) so the students would have another space for a classroom. After finding paint all over ourselves, including in our hair, and spending many long hours at work, we finished the building. You never realize how much work and preparation it takes to paint a building until you actually do it. It was great knowing that this establishment could now be used by the school instead of just taking up space on the school’s land.
In addition to working, we got to spend some quality time talking with the high school students. Many of them spoke enough English to allow us to have conversations with them, including discussions of what type of music they like (reggaeton is the favorite). Believe it or not, these are your typical high school students, and they are so full of life. When we visited, they would break out in song or dance with some of the boys pounding on the desks creating a rhythm. One boy asked me if this happens in our school in the United States, and I just laughed and explained how orderly and calm our classrooms usually are.
I think one of the best experiences of the trip was playing with the younger students who were in elementary school.
Although they did not speak English, we all understood how to run around and have fun. One of the best sights was when all the guys on the trip hoisted the young boys into the air and carried them on their shoulders. There was so much life and energy during this time, which made for some awesome pictures that would forge an everlasting memory.
Saying goodbye to everyone at the school was hard, knowing we may never see them again. But there’s always next year to go back to DR.
— Carey Sliko
Junior, Marine Science