Day 7

Today we had our culture day! Although we were all sad to not be able to teach, we were excited to explore the Dominican Republic. We started off the day with some yummy pancakes to fuel our long day. We then took a private bus to the cemetery of Monte Cristi, where we learned that in the Dominican Republic, tombs are above ground because of the water levels, and there is a jefe, or boss, to whom people give offerings for good omens. It was interesting to see the class system shown through the tombs, but everyone is welcome.

We then visited the Cuban museum, where we learned about Jose Marti and Maximo Gomez, who signed the Cuban Declaration of Independence.

Then, it was on to a five-generation banana farm. We learned the interesting process of how bananas grow, and the owners were generous enough to give us our own bundle of bananas!

Afterwards, we were treated to lunch at a local caterer, and it was delicious! We then stopped at a souvenir shop before our hike on El Morro, a beautiful mountain. We swung on swings at the top of the hike and then went into the ocean at a private beach below. It was gorgeous! We spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the ocean, playing frisbee on the beach, just having a lot of fun together.

To end the day, we came back to Outreach360 where Leonardo, the artist, delivered his paintings, and we all shared in a closing ceremony.

Following dinner, we went to the supermarket, ice cream shop, and juice café one last time. This experience has been awesome for all of us, and we are sad to go, but we are grateful for everything! 

Day 6

Wow, what a bittersweet day! Our last day of teaching was filled with joy, laughter, and even some tears as we said goodbye to some amazing students with whom we had bonded throughout the week. Having woken up around 7:00 a.m., the group went through our usual morning routine. We devoured delicious scrambled eggs, toast, papaya, and hot chocolate. Following this feast, we ventured up the hill, through town, to the public school. The energy of the students was contagious, and our exhaustion from the day before quickly disappeared. An exciting recess was followed by two enjoyable classes. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbyes to some great friends.

After our typical juice run at Cafe de Mecho, we made our way back to the Outreach360 building for a typical Dominican lunch of rice, beans, chicken, and fruit. Following lunch, we headed to the salt flats just down the street where Manuel gave us a fantastic tour of the ponds to see how sea salt is made. Seawater is concentrated in shallow, man-made ponds before the seawater evaporates, which leaves behind large salt crystals that are then commercially sold for table salt.

Some of our group then picked up awesome souvenirs before heading back for siesta. A welcomed break from the action gave way to some lesson planning where we prepared for our final day in the Learning Center. The afternoon session of teaching went swimmingly, and we truly discovered the impact that we had made on the students in just four short days. Another delicious Dominican meal at dinner consisted of mashed plantains, marinated onions, friend eggs, fresh pineapple, and rice pudding. The group then headed up onto the Outreach roof for an amazing sunset and a thought-provoking reflection with Michael, our group leader.

We then made an ice cream stop at Bon, where the whole group was treated to some helado delicioso.

Afterwards, we had the pleasure of spectating a local softball game before making our final return to the Outreach360 building. Everyone agreed that this was the best day of the trip. Between the energetic classes, awe-inspiring salt flats, and the group ice cream run, this really was a day to remember. We look forward to enjoying one more full day in Monte Cristi tomorrow! –Aidan Dowd ’20 and Kyle Mele ’20

Day 5

Wednesday was an exciting day! A group of us woke up at 5:30 a.m. to walk to the pier and enjoy the beautiful sunrise. Breakfast included delicious cornmeal, buttered toast, hard-boiled eggs, fresh cantaloupe, and mangoes straight off the tree!

We returned to Colegio San José for our third day of teaching, and the experience became even more rewarding. During our morning recess, some of us played five-on-five basketball, while other spent quality time with the kids and played games like tag, frisbee, hopscotch, jump robe, chalk drawing, and blowing bubbles. A group of students were even practicing a dance that they planned to perform as a class on Friday, their last day of school.

The classes we taught were amazing since the students responded really well to the added energy we brought! The connections that we experienced in the last two days blossomed into genuine friendships. That’s what has made this trip so special.

On our way home from the school, we returned to our favorite juice shop and had a relaxing siesta. The activities commenced after lunch with lesson planning for both the public schools and the afternoon Learning Center. We then had a wonderful dinner of spaghetti, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, and watermelon. And for our evening activity…dancing! A dance instructor came to the Outreach360 site and taught us some Dominican dances, such as merengue and bachata. A few of us even got our hair braided from a local woman who also brought along some homemade bracelets. We then finished the night with a fun dance party and karaoke sesh! Goodnight, NA! –Sofia Wachtmeister ’20

Day 4

It was an early morning. Some of us woke up at 5:00 a.m. and walked to the beach or nearby El Morro mountain to watch the sunrise. We then returned for breakfast at 8:00 a.m. where we had toast, scrambled eggs, and fresh pineapple! Then, we packed up and left for our second day at Colegio San José. Knowing the children already and knowing what to prepare allowed the majority of us student-teachers to feel that the second day was more productive and fun!

We finished our morning teaching session by walking back to Outreach360, but not before stopping for the most delicious fresh juice–mango, pineapple, and guava.

We then ate lunch–rice and beans, eggplant, and watermelon–followed with an Outreach session on service philosophies. We enjoyed an hour of siesta time when we all played cards with each other. At 2:00, we started planning our lessons for tomorrow and worked on the curriculum for our afternoon English Learning Center classes, which showed improvement from our first day!

Dinner was a treat–Taco Tuesday. It was definitely a fan favorite. They also made fresh pineapple juice for us–delicious! We then had a short Dominican history lesson, followed by a great competitive game to see what we remembered. Then, we watched a movie titled In the Time of the Butterflies, based on the true story of the three Mirabal sisters who were murdered in 1960 for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the dictatorship. We learned about the dictators of the past and now have a deeper understanding for the troubles that women have had to overcome in the DR. We ended the long day with our group reflections and prepared for tomorrow. Goodnight, NA!

Day 3

Today was our first day of teaching. It was a new experience for all of us! We taught the second, third, and fourth grade at a local public school named Colegio San José. We had to handle a lot of energy, but we were delighted by the eagerness that the children showed towards learning English. Competitive spirits were high as students jumped, ran, and even slid across the ground in order to score more points for their team during learning games we had put together. We also taught in Outreach360’s English Immersion Program and spoke to students who came in on their own time to learn English. Afterwards, we walked out to the beach to admire the sunset off of a beautiful pier. We are all extremely excited for our next few days of teaching and exploring Monte Cristi.

–Pooja Mahesh ’20

Days 1/2

We left the States, and, after a long layover and a ton of walking, we landed safely in Santiago.

After a fun two-hour bus ride, we made it to the 360 headquarters in Monte Cristi. The next morning, we all got up pretty refreshed. We explored Monte Cristi and learned about some of the Dominican heroes like Juan Pablo Duarte and about one of the amazing local painters here, Leonardo. We then had a siesta, during which we explored more of the area. We also learned about the process of teaching here so that we can interact with the students.

Finally, we worked together in teams to create a curriculum to work with second, third, and fourth graders. In the evening we learned about the rich history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti and the differences between them, even though they share an island. Goodnight, NA!

–Danielle Doss ’20

Day 7: Friday, June 15

We woke up for an early breakfast of pancakes before hopping on busses to travel to the market on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic called “Dajabon”. The market was incredibly chaotic with people selling everything from toiletries to clothes to food. We walked first to the bridge between the two countries, maintaining a single file line among the thousands of people hustling through on motorcycles or carrying overflowing bags on their heads. The market is set up on every Monday and Friday and is the primary option for many Haitians and Dominicans to buy food for their families or to buy things for distributing farther in from the border. It was incredible to observe the people passing between the two countries and how they interacted with those around them. Then we walked through the market some more before heading back to the buses. On the way home, we stopped at the house of Maximo Gomez. His house is now a museum dedicated to his legacy along with that of José Marti. They were two major leaders in the Cuban revolution; you can now find them on the Cuban currency notes. Then we stopped at a cemetery, where all the graves were above ground and some were very colorful. Then we visited a souvenir shop before heading to a buffet style lunch at Comedor Adela’s. After a delicious lunch, we drove to the mountain Murrito where we embarked on a short hike to the top which overlooked the bright, blue Caribbean Sea. We took some pictures and then hiked back down to the beach where we played some ultimate frisbee and 500. Two hours later we drove back to the house for dinner where we had the traditional, Dominican farewell meal of San Cocho, white rice and a beef stew. After dinner, we sat around and talked about our experience this week, sharing memorable moments and tautologies we’ve learned. This was a perfect way to end the week because it allowed all of us to reflect on our time here and appreciate the lessons we’ve learned, the impact we’ve made, and the self growth we’ve all experienced in our stay here. –Peyton Tysinger

On this our final day in the Dominican Republic, we had the chance to immerse ourselves in Dominican life with a “Culture Day” planned by the Outreach360 staff. Breakfast was served earlier than usual, around 7:30, and by 8am we were headed to Dajabon, the Dominican/Haitian market that unites the border between both countries. First we made our way through the endless crowds of both Dominicans and Haitians to a bridge that crosses the Haitian border, standing about fifty feet away from Haitiand overlooking Massacre River. In the market, walking single file to avoid the endless traffic of motorcycles, vendors, wheelbarrows, and eighteen wheelers, we were immersed in a beautiful, somewhat structured chaos. Haitian “runners” bought stocks of Dominican goods to bring across the border and sell while other Haitian vendors sat before piles and piles of flip flops,sneakers, and stilletoes, calling over anyone who happened to meet their eye. There was a certain awe in the disorganization, because at the same time, the market wasn’t disorganized at all, and every person there served a purpose that contributed to an intricate connection between Dominicans and Haitians. By the end, everyone was left wide eyed and amazed.

We rode back to Monte Cristi on the bus, stopping to visit a Cuban Musuem and to learn about the Dominican role in the Cuban revolution. Stopping by the Outreach360 house to grab our money, we walked across the street to a souvenir shop, and bought gifts for all you parents out there, including paintings and Dominican coffee (by far the best coffee in the Caribbean). When we returned to the house, it was time for lunch. However, we went out to eat at a family restaurant, friends of Caleb, Aidiil, and Miguel, for a tremendous buffet style meal. The cooks served us just about every infamous food Dominicans have to offer, including white rice and beans, steak, fried chicken, and empanadas. They also threw in some “Dominican spaghetti”, and of course, for the Americans, some classic Mac n cheese. The meal was fantastic, topped of with some Kola Real (Dominican coke) and everyone was just about stuffed by the time we returned to the house.

Shortly after, we geared up for a hike up “El Morro”, the mountain that shadows the town of Monte Cristi, followed by an afternoon at the beach. The trail up the mountain was incredible, equipped with a breathtaking, overwhelming vibe of the entire town of Monte Cristi and the coast. We stopped at countless points to take photographs, as any tourists would, and took in some once in a lifetime views. Coming back down the trail, we came to one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Monte Cristi , surrounded by cliffs and the backside of El Morro, and spent most of the afternoon surrounded by saltwater and a claylike caramel sand. The scene screamed paradise, and the perfect ending to such a week.

We came back to the Outreach360 house around five, and by six we were eating our last dinner of the trip, a “farewell stew” over rice, filled with delicious chicken and plantains. Jackson talked with us about what we learned during our “Closing Ceremony” and everone discusses things they have learned throughout the week, as well as what they would take away from the trip. After one last ice cream trip, everyone settled down for card games, conversation, and quiet time. –Emma Somers and Mia Gilley

Day 6: Thursday, June 14

We started off the day with our daily morning announcements and the plan for the day ahead. But before we met in the morning, some of us went on a jog to the beautiful pier about half a mile from the Outreach360 compound.
After the run everyone freshened up with a quick Navy-style shower. Then, we all met for breakfast. Breakfast was amazing. It consisted of pan tostado or toast, huevos rancheros, a dish made with scrambled eggs and vegetables, and piña or pineapple. For the less adventurous, there was also cereal con leche or cereal with milk. The daily peach tea and water were offered, along with the delicious Dominican coffee.
After eating breakfast we made our way to the school, arriving just as recess started. Some of us played wall ball with the children (a more painful version than our American version), while other played basketball or tag. Our last day in the classroom was by far the best day for all of us. Our lesson plan for class was more solid and we knew how to encourage the students to participate in activities. Overall we found that relationships and trust play a big part in teaching. Both the students and the teachers have to trust themselves and each other. We also developed more respect for our teachers in school, who worked tirelessly to plan out our lessons and make classes interesting. After teaching at the school, we headed back to the Outreach360 compound. For lunch we had pollo frito (fried chicken), arroz com frijoles rojos (rice with red beans), and once again, piña. We also had a special hot chocolate drink made without milk. After eating lunch, we had a Siesta, our rest time, for an hour. With our energy replenished, we began walking to the salt flats.
At the salts flats Miguel, a Dominican and volunteer at Outreach360, gave us a tour. He took us through the stages of producing salt. Salt production is a very big part of Dominican industry and is critical to the health of their economy. The process went like this: First, water from the ocean was drawn into a reservoir where it began with twenty degrees of salinity. Then workers would direct water to the heating part by opening certain gates. Here some of the water evaporates and the salinity doubles to forty degrees. From here it would move to the crystallization stage, the hottest stage at which the salt crystallizes. In this stage the salinity levels also double again. Workers then transported piles of salt in wheelbarrows to shacks where it dried.
After going to the salt flats we finished our day in the learning center. For fifteen minutes we read with the students with bilingual, or completely English books. We then moved into the classrooms inside of the Outreach360 compound and taught the students about rooms in a house and important objects in those rooms. We did this by drawing houses, playing “hangman,” and other games. The students then took a written test. Once they were finished they came out of the classrooms and played games like basketball, and four square with us.
We had an amazing dinner of tacos made of ground beef, corn, rice, beans, and tomatoes. We also had fresh pineapple juice to drink for dinner. Lastly, we prepared for our trip to the Dominican Republic-Haiti Border by listening to a lecture and watching a riveting documentary. –Sebastian Singh and Neil Malik
Today on June 14, 2018 marked the final day of teaching the children. We began our morning with breakfast at 8 o’clock to prepare for the day. An hour later, we headed to the public school to teach vocabulary about food. Though the two sessions went well, the group had to say its goodbyes to the children with whom we recently made close bonds. After lunch, we walked up the street to tour the salt flats, which comprises the main sector of the Montecristi economy. Telling us about how the salt beds function, Miguel walked us through the reservoir where salt water collects. We concluded the tour with a stop at a souvenir shop where many people bought items to remember the journey. Upon arriving back, we set up the Outreach360 building as a learning center for a separate group of children. The children came in eager to read to us, however, reading time was cut short due to testing. Once reading time ended, the level one students were taught about different shapes and rooms. Testing followed, consisting of a listening section and a short writing section. Yet another goodbye occurred as we had to say farewell to the friends we met at the learning center. After the kids left, we prepared for the best dinner: tacos. Satisfied by the amazing dinner, we sat for an important discussion about racial relations on Hispaniola. Then we watched a documentary on the Haitian Dominican relationship and how it came about. –Mihir Damle

Day 5: Wednesday, June 13

We began the day with the usual morning announcements consisting of our plans for the rest of the day. Following the announcements were the options of hard boiled eggs, bananas, oatmeal, and toast for breakfast, topped off with the choice of either tea or coffee. As a group, we then headed off to Colegio to begin teaching our designated grades. Today’s vocabulary words consisted of animals, ranging from ants to cows, and basic verbs: dance, swim, eat, sleep, and run. Before entering our classrooms, we convened with the children outside for their daily recess. We then dispersed to our assigned classrooms, saying goodbye to the children that we do not teach. The participation and focus from the children was much greater today because of the connection we have formed with the students over the past two days. Because we have had two separate times to perfect our teaching methods and lesson plans, most activities in the classroom went according to plan this morning. Our entire group then reconnected outside the school and walked together to the historical town clock tower for a quick debrief of the morning. Many of us agreed that today’s teaching was the best so far and gave shoutouts to those who we believed excelled in teaching. Lunch consisted of fried sweet plantains, vegetable salad, chicken with rice, and vegetables with rice. The usual “siesta” followed lunch, which was taken up mainly by card playing and lesson planning for the learning center that afternoon. Lesson planning for the learning center and tomorrow’s Colegio visit took up the whole afternoon until the children came at 4:30. The children showed up excited to learn and take their written tests. Many of us could see the improvement the children had made on their reading and ability to comprehend over just two days. After the goodbyes made to this group of children, we ate a delicious dinner of mashed potatoes, fried eggs, bananas, and vegetable salad. The time following dinner was packed with activities. We were introduced to an amazing woman who made beautiful jewelry and cornrowed many peoples’ hair. We participated in an extremely fun dance class consisting of the dances “merengue” and “buchata”, which we definitely counted as our day’s workout. Many of us then went to town to celebrate our dancing with ice cream and then came back to relax after a long and busy day of fun. –Kate Furr

Our day started with a breakfast of toast, oatmeal, cereal, and hard boiled eggs. Then we headed off to the schools for recess. Today the bubbles were a huge hit! The kids absolutely loved them and swarmed us to get their chance to pop some. Then we moved into the classrooms for the day’s classes. The subject of the day was animals, and we engaged in many different activities including flashcards, singing Old McDonald Had A Farm, and Simon Says. After two sessions, we had a debrief before heading back to the Outreach360 headquarters for lunch. Lunch consisted of rice, beans, chicken, and fried bananas. Fue muy sabroso! After siesta and more lesson planning, we began reading with the kids at the Learning Center and then moved into the classrooms to help the kids review vocabulary of shapes and parts of the house. We helped the kids draw their own houses, played hangman using the vocabulary, and prepared them for their written exams later in the day. While they were taking their exams, we all played an intense game of four square. After building up a sweat, we ate dinner which consisted of mashed potatoes, fried eggs, and tomato and cucumber salad. We burned off all the calories eaten with our dance lesson afterwards during which we learned traditional merengue and other partner dances. While doing so, many of our fellow bulldogs got corn rows. Somos muy guapos! Then we all headed to bed for some much needed rest after such an eventful day.             –Shelby Brown and Chelsea Worthy

Day 4: Tuesday, June 12–“Full Hearts and Tired Eyes”

Similar to days 2 and 3, our morning began with refreshingly cold showers followed by a breakfast of French toast, scrambled eggs, fresh pineapple, cereal, and a choice of coffee or tea. Following the meal, the group traveled to Colegio to continue teaching students elementary English; our lesson plan for the day entailed teaching the children about shapes in correlation with rooms in a house (e.g. living room, kitchen, dining room, etc.). Unlike the first day of teaching, however, the students seemed much more engaged and willing to participate in classroom discussions and activities. Each of our individual groups taught two classes before debriefing, sharing details as to how we could improve our lesson plans and keep the children entertained. We returned to the Outreach360 building to a traditional Dominican lunch of rice and beans, eggplant with cheese, and tomato & cucumber salad. Once everybody had finished their meal, Jackson, the Outreach Head of Logistics in the DR, informed us about an opportunity to participate in a series of monthly donations that would fund the construction of a larger learning center in Nicaragua. At this time we began our lesson plan for the second day in the Learning Center. It was the same material as the day before but with different students. We took this opportunity to improve flaws in our previous day. These students were well-engaged with our interactive lessons. For dinner, we devoured an American delicacy: fried chicken and fries with tamarind juice. After the meal, Caleb, one of our local leaders, gave us the history of the Dominican Republic’s development including an inspiring movie about the Democratic Revolution in the mid-1900s. We wrapped up our day with highlights and suggestions for our day with full hearts and tired eyes. –Cole Jordan and Leif Smith


This morning we woke up at 7:30, got ready, and headed downstairs for breakfast at 8. We got our supplies together and walked to the school at Monte Cristi. The schedule of the day was recess and then two 45 minute classes with different students. During recess I had a conversation with a third grade student named Victor about Avengers: Infinity War and Titanic (he stressed the fact that he did NOT cry). Other volunteers played tag, basketball, wall ball, and other games the children had made up. In our first class, the students were very well-behaved, and we did flashcards, chalk races, and drew pictures while writing what they were drawing. In the second class, we attempted to do the same activities, but the class was too crazy and we had to change our plan. We split the students into smaller groups and went over the vocabulary with them. This worked much better than with a bigger group. Then, we debriefed and talked about how we could be better tomorrow. We walked back to the Outreach center and ate lunch. After lunch, we played cards and did lesson planning for the learning center and the next day with the public school. At 4:00, the students arrived at the learning center and we read with them one-on-one. The girl I read with was very open to my suggestions, and I could tell she cared a lot about learning English. Then we went into the classrooms and did stations of different activities and games. The station I supervised was drawing and labeling your favorite outfit. The kids seemed to really enjoy it, especially the stickers. When the children left, we ate dinner. After dinner, we played trivia about the Dominican Republic’s history in teams. Then, we watched In the Time of the Butterflies, which was about how the Mirabal sisters helped to take down the dictator Trujillo. After the movie we had a discussion which was very thought provoking, and Caleb, one of the cominos, answered our questions. At 9:00, we had a group meeting where we discussed our roses and thorns of the day. Then we played more games of cards and now it is time for bed. –Abigail McCammon