Author Archives: mlilly

Day 3: Monday, June 11

Today we woke up at 7:30 and went downstairs for breakfast at 8. After eating, we prepared to head to school for the first time. My group had two third-grade classes at Colegio Monte Cristi. Upon arriving, we had a thirty-minute recess where we were greeted by tons of kids who would run up and hug us and take us to play various games with them. After this, we were responsible for teaching two forty-five minute classes. The kids were so energetic and fun! After these classes, we headed back to the Outreach center for lunch.

After eating lunch every day, we are given an hour siesta. However, many people didn’t nap today and instead played cards downstairs. After the siesta, we lesson planned for our next activity: the learning center. The learning center is where the kids voluntarily come to us for extra practice with English. We had extra time after lesson planning, and we went to the park where we played soccer with some of the kids as well as ultimate frisbee. Heading back, we saw some of the kids who would be attending the learning center for the afternoon. We then got ready for them to come inside. Once they did, we individually read to a child for thirty minutes and then broke up into groups for different activities. My group had the level one students who were the least fluent. However, they knew more English than most of the kids from colegio. Following this, we had dinner and are now lesson planning for tomorrow’s school session, and after that, we have free time when we can play cards and go to different stores nearby. –Avery Pierce

We began the day with a delicious meal consisting of cantaloupe, pineapple, cereal, and hard-boiled eggs. Afterwards, we traveled to the school and arrived right before recess began. We were greeted by smiling children who wanted to meet us. We played tag, wall ball, learned hand shakes, and even had a dance battle. After recess, we traveled to our classrooms for the first day of teaching. We learned a lot about teaching, especially lesson planning. Some of our curriculum ideas did not goes as planned, but we were able reorganize our plans between classes. We reflected on what worked and what didn’t during the classes, then came back to the Outreach360 building. For lunch we had beef, beans and rice, and hard-boiled eggs. After lunch, we went to the park and engaged in a game of ultimate ball (like ultimate frisbee). A bench jumped out of nowhere and hit David’s shin, but no serious injury occurred. We came back to our building and prepared for the learning center. This is when 80 children come to our building, and we continue to help them learn English. We began with 30 minutes of reading. In most cases, friends coming tended to stick together in pairs, and the outreach volunteers paired up and read with them. Most books were bilingual, and we would read in Spanish, and they would read in English. There were various levels of English, ranging from 1-4. In our case, Mary had been learning English for 7 years and 3 years at Outreach360. Her mastery of English is near to perfect. Then we divided into different classrooms. Our group worked with level 1. We practiced colors and articles of clothing, which was exactly what we reviewed in the public school earlier that day. We created a lesson plan that consisted of individual teaching and group games. We had a small classroom with 13 teachers and only 6 students. We drew pictures and labeled them, and played a fun game in which the 3 girls and 3 boys were on different teams and raced to the board. We drew articles of clothing on the board, and the children had to race and point to the right article. For dinner, we had lasagna, rice pudding, fried plantains, and hard boiled eggs. Lesson planning and free time followed dinner. Many went to Lilos (the local grocery store) to get juice or to get ice cream. Those same people partook in an impromptu Zumba class while passing through a local park on their trek back to headquarters. This gave everyone a good sense of the culture while learning a few dances in the process. Others stayed back to play cards. We said our roses and thorns of the day as a group, then continued to play cards. The group seems to be clicking well, and we seem to be growing closer every night. Thanks folks. Tune in tomorrow for another riveting recap of our day! –Peyton Hope and David Byler

Day 2: Sunday, June 10–Learning to Teach

Today we woke up to the sounds of the rooster and started off our day with breakfast at 8 am. A group of us got up early to go down to the pier for some exercise. After a delicious breakfast of pan frances and huevos rancheros, we went over the Outreach360 guidelines. By breaking up into different groups for each of the organization’s ten guiding principles, we came up with skits to perform for the greater group and thus understand them.

After learning all the guidelines, we headed out into the city for a tour where we visited local landmarks and learned a bit of the history of Monte Cristi. After working up our appetites on the tour, we sat down for a delicious lunch of chicken, rice, and beans.

Following lunch, we had a siesta where most of us took the time to rest after the busy morning. Next, we started our teaching orientation. We learned the acronym SCRAM: speak slowly, complete sentences, repetition, associate words with actions, and model syntax for them. This will help us to best teach the students English in a fully immersive environment. Then we divided into our separate teaching groups and started lesson planning with our assigned vocabulary for tomorrow, our first day with the kids.

After finishing our curriculum planning, we unpacked our donations and then had free time to explore the city in smaller groups. This gave us the chance to refresh ourselves with fresh tropical juices and ice cream from various shops and purchase our own snacks from the grocery store.

We headed home in time for a few games before dinner where we intermingled with the groups from other schools to get to know each other better. After dinner we changed into nicer clothes and headed to a church service to observe and appreciate the culture. –Straeten Avery


We started off our first full day in Monte Cristi with refreshingly cold navy-style showers and a delicious breakfast of French toast, scrambled eggs with vegetables, cantaloupe, and the best coffee we’ve ever had. We followed that up with “speed friending” ice breakers to get to know the groups from other high schools (Napa and Kent) and overviewed O360’s ten-point mission statement. We spent the majority of the morning hearing from different O360 volunteers on teaching techniques and the history of the program in the DR. After our orientation, our water bottles were filled and we set off for our tour of the town which highlighted all the local landmarks and the highly popular juice and ice cream stands where Mercera was very excited to see us American students. Lunch consisted of rice, beans, chicken, and “hush puppies”. Arguably the most important part of the day, we had an hour for a siesta!

After our hour of relaxation, we had time to create a lesson plan for tomorrow when we will be working in the public school. Each group was assigned an age group from preschool to 3rd grade, and we, once known as students, will become the teachers for the week. Once our lesson planning was complete, we had free time for another hour so most of the group decided to go stroll through the town once again to go to the grocery store, “Lilo’s”, where we had the chance to purchase unique foods from Monte Cristi. We make it back in time to the Outreach360 facility for dinner which comprised of fried eggs, pineapple, plantain, and yaka (no one knows the spelling for that word turns out). Later that night, we had the option to go to a church and see the service. It was very hot in the room, but it was very interesting experience filled with singing and small amounts of dancing. Overall it was a very enjoyable day, and everyone is looking forward to trying out their lesson plans tomorrow at the school. –Cameron Lloyd and Mia Gilley

Day 1: Saturday, June 9–Outreach Bound

We arrived at the airport at 5:00 am, but everyone was really excited for the trip! We left Norfolk around 7:00 and arrived in Miami at 9:00. Ellie and Kate took pictures and videos of everything. We took a long walk to our gate and got lunch before getting on our flight to Santiago, Dominican Republic. Once we got through the long customs line, we hopped onto a bus with all of the Outreach leaders who greeted us with big smiles. They led us safely to the Outreach360 house where we had a big dinner of rice, pasta, and fruit. We then walked to the pier to watch the sunset with all of the Outreach360 volunteers. Then, we walked back and played and games with each other before heading to bed. –Raegan Weis


At approximately 5 am, the group convened at Norfolk International Airport and was filled to the brim with excitement about the trip to the Dominican Republic. After a quick flight to Atlanta, the group had a few hours to kill before the next flight to Santiago. After another quick flight, the group finally landed in the Dominican Republic, enjoying the new experiences/struggles of customs. The final leg of the journey came in the form of a two-hour bus ride. The group overlooked the arduous drive ahead and enjoyed playing games such as contact. When the group finally arrived at the Outreach360 facility, the Outreach leaders greeted the pack with kindness and upmost hospitality. The group settled in, picking beds and Outreach360 shirts. After a delicious dinner of pasta, rice, and eggs, the entire group walked to a pier to watch the sunset. The beautiful view of the mountains and water was the highlight of the day. After returning from our walk, we engaged in multiple card games and conversation in anticipation of our orientation first thing tomorrow morning. All in all, the first day was a huge success. –Neil Malik and Jason Park