What students have to say:
“The most memorable moment of this trip happened at the most calm time of the trip. It wasn't the waterfall trip, the beach day, or the boat rides. It took place sitting in a one room school building with four sets of eyes staring at me. After asking the kindergarteners their names, I was poked on the shoulder. When I turned around, one of the kindergarteners smiled and handed me a picture she had drawn. She had carefully drawn her four friends, my classmate, Faith, and me all standing in the grass. She had solved the language barrier without even knowing it. For the rest of the day we drew pictures and translated words for each other. This ice breaker created a bond between us that we developed further by playing tag, card games, chess, basketball, and by just having fun. This trip proved to me that even though people are drastically different and come from many different backgrounds, we all share the desire to create positive connections with each other.”
-Laurel McPherson; 2017 volunteer
“My experience in the Dominican Republic was one that I will never forget. It is not uncommon for people to think of community service as a chore or a box to check off for a school club. I can honestly say that the community service we completed in the Dominican was so much more than that. The most rewarding experience I have ever been a part of was interacting with the local Dominican children in the tiny village of El Castillo. These kids live in extreme poverty and yet they approached us with smiling faces. That was a life-changing thing to see. Being a part of that, along with staying at the beautiful Villa Pajon eco-lodge, made for an incredible experience. Not to mention that we did some great things for the world when we were there (planted trees, built birdhouses for an endangered species, cleaned up villages). In a society dominated by first-world privileges, this trip gave me perspective.”
-Joe Kelly; 2016, 2017 volunteer
“Last April vacation I went on a trip to the Dominican Republic to do service work with some of my peers from Plymouth North High School. Going into the trip I was really nervous. I think that the reason I was so nervous was because of the unknown. I was going to a country that I had never been before, without my parents, for a whole week. Although I was lucky because I went with my siblings it was still really nerve wracking. If I had let those nerves stop me from going on the trip then I would have never been able to experience the trip of my lifetime. The time that we spent in the beautiful community of El Castillo with the people that lived there was definitely, without a doubt, the changing point of my life. The people invited us into their community with open arms and showed every one of us that you don't need materialistic things to be happy. I think that is the biggest lesson that I took away from the trip, although I did learn many other lessons. If I could give advice to anyone considering going on this trip it would be that it is okay to have those nerves because it is natural, but don't let those nerves stop you from experiencing all that the trip has to offer. I personally think that this trip cannot be defined by any price because you will learn so much more from the beautiful country and people of the Dominican of Republic then you will ever be able to repay them.”
-Morgan McPherson; 2017 Volunteer
“My time in El Castillo was one of the best weeks of my life, undoubtedly. I know some of the best birthday presents I received were little Emmanuel holding my hands on the bus as it poured outside, or Jesus giving me a heart shaped wrapper he had found on the ground as a present.These are things I will never forget!
My friends ask me, ‘Did you change their lives?’ I responded with, ‘I don’t know, but they changed mine.’ “
-Emmie Kelly; 2016, 2017 Volunteer
“I’ve been fortunate enough in my young life to visit many different parts of this country and have traveled to other countries around the world. Along the way I’ve observed scenes of severe poverty that I thought I understood from seeing it in person. Despite knowing that I am a fortunate person who is thankful for everything I have, I realize now that I didn’t really understand the devastating effects of poverty. It wasn’t until I traveled to the Dominican Republic and spent time with the community of El Castillo that I truly began to appreciate the devastating effects of poverty. However, I learned an important lesson from my visit to El Castillo. Despite living in conditions that most Americans could never imagine, the kids we met taught me what struggle, love, and happiness really are. We can read about struggle in English class, we can learn about love from our parents and we learn about happiness through our own experiences. But in American culture, our definitions of these things are greatly different from those in developing countries. Immersing yourself in a new culture that is very different from your own is truly life changing. Prior to our trip, we collected clothes to give to the kids of El Castillo and on Easter Sunday, we gave them what we had collected. I never realized how something that seemed so insignificant to me can mean so much to someone else. I passed out pairs of gloves to 3 young girls that were so happy with the gifts that they called to me to see if I had any more for their little sisters and brothers. The things you can take out of this trip are endless. All I can say is that anyone who is thinking about joining the trip should because it is an experience of a lifetime.”
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