On Thursday, February 11th 26 students and 4 chaperons departed for the Dominican Republic on a service learning trip. GD students and teachers in conjunction with the Community Service Alliance (CSA) and Education First Tours (EF) are concentrating on field work projects in rural parts of the DR. We are working to support two CSA grassroots projects: Salud Cerrito and Mi Vida en Juego At-Risk Youth Program.
The rural agricultural community of El Cerrito is located in the province of El Siebo, which is the third poorest province in the DR. Electricity, running water, and the availability of health services are in short supply. CSA has been working to provide a better education and promote healthier living by creating family gardens in an effort to diversify their diets and promote self sufficiency and sustainability. The program uses baseball and softball as a hook to educate young men and women and provide students with an education and life skills to promote a healthier, better educated community.
Yesterday, February 13th, was day two of service for students and chaperons. After a traditional Dominican breakfast, the group was transported to the work site and broken into three groups. One group was sifting and mixing cement, another group was responsible for running baseball and softball clinics for the youth of the community, and the third group was working in the community garden planting cucumbers, tomatoes, and other native vegetables. The students worked really hard. Later that evening the group went to town to enjoy some local pizza. We had the opportunity to enjoy some cake in celebration of Katie Royal's 17th birthday.
Today we are traveling to the baseball/softball field in El Cerrito. After a brief presentation highlighting the importance of baseball in the DR, we will participate in a genuine cultural exchange while enjoying a game of softball with the community members. Group members not participating in the softball game will visit local families. They will tour their homes and learn more about their daily lives. After lunch we will be transported to Las Palmillas Women's Cooperative, a group founded with the help of CSA, which has blossomed into a successful business group for local women. Should be a great day.
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