By: Josh Wegman
While some students spent reading week idly sitting around at home, a group from Algonquin made a difference overseas.
Twenty-one students spent their reading week in the Dominican Republic, and while it sounds vacation-like, it was no ordinary trip to a resort in Punta Cana.
Instead, they were sent to Monte Christi with the Outreach 360 program where they taught English to Dominican children throughout the week.
“It was a real eye-opening experience,” said Sophia Bouris, one of the coordinators.
Danielle Puchnatyj, another trip coordinator, agreed.
“The trip really showed me how precious life can be,” she said.
Outreach 360 is a non-profit organization which bought the Hope of a Child Orphanage in Monte Christi in 1994.
“It was an overall amazing experience,” said Bouris. “I’d recommend it to everyone.”
During their stay, the students lived like the people of Monte Christi.
“Us girls stayed in one big room with about 30 bunk beds and a few cold water showers,” said Sarah Timmins.
The goal was to teach English to Dominican children between the ages of four to 11.
“It was tough at times,” said Bouris. “I found that body language was really key.”
Other students experimented with different methods to communicate with the children.
“I found that repeating yourself was essential,” said Kim Robillard. “The biggest thing was that these kids really wanted to learn, they were so eager.”
The Dominican Republic is still considered a third-world country so most of the children only go to school for half of the day.
“It’s amazing how much we learned from them,” said Shannen Trudeau.
The trip became an emotional experience.
“The hardest part was saying bye to the kids,” said Blanca Palacios. “We grew so close to them.”
For others, it is something they will always remember.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Lauren Stewart.
Another trip is being planned for the 2014 spring break.
“The fruit here is just not the same now because it was so good in the Dominican,” said Trudeau. “That’s probably the only negative thing I can say about the trip.”