¡No puedo creerlo! (I can’t believe it!) I am currently completing my final month here in the Dominican Republic. Now that my schedule is slightly less hectic, I can finally take the time to share more of my thoughts and experiences from the past month.
As promised in my last blog post, here is a picture from my trip to Samaná in mid-February. Kayla, Ana, Luz, and I rented a small condo for three days in a town called Las Galeras. It rained almost the whole weekend, but it was so beautiful that we didn’t mind (and all the rain resulted in a double rainbow as you can see!).
Last week, I traveled to Puerto Plata, a city in the northern region of the Dominican Republic, with CSA and a student group from the University of Michigan. UM is one of the several universities in the U.S. that has a partnership with CSA. The group spent the week building a cinder block wall around the perimeter of a baseball field. Children and families in the community frequently spend time at the field, and CSA wanted to make it a safer place for them.
The wall now separates the field from a small river, which will help to prevent accidents and, hopefully, lost pelotas (baseballs)! I joined the group late because I did not want to miss too much time at the school, but I was able to help them build the wall before it was finished. I can’t remember the last time my body was so sore, but it was well worth it. Afterwards, we played baseball with some of the kids in the community. That was a day I will never forget.
I am enjoying my internship at the school more and more each day. Now that I am more familiar with the students, I have been able to plan activities that are specific to their needs. For example, I felt that the students would benefit from receiving more positive recognition. When the attention is focused on students who are disrupting the class, other students may feel unnoticed. However, this is not the teachers’ fault, nor anyone else’s. Each teacher has to manage a classroom of 20 or more students, anywhere from three to eight years old. After being left alone in a classroom of 3-year-olds the other day, I can say that simply keeping them all in the room is an accomplishment! So, after brainstorming with the principal, Luz, we came up with a program called “Las Estrellas de la Semana,” which means “Stars of the Week.” Every week, the teachers choose one student from each classroom who displayed positive behavior with peers and adults and actively participated. These students receive certificates and have their picture taken, which is posted on a bulletin board by the school entrance. This week, we are going to hold a small ceremony for the Estrellas de la Semana. I’m hoping that this program will motivate other students to behave appropriately and participate in the classroom, but most importantly, I hope it will make the students feel proud of their hard work.
¡Hasta la próxima! Until next time!