|Sunrise in Puerta Plata|
Returning to the Dominican Republic (DR) is always an awe-inspiring experience! And that’s just what I did recently.
|Three generations: her mother, and her daughter Sarahi|
For 12 days, I returned to do some consulting with Dr. Claudina Vargas and MACILE/COSOLA, a non-profit organization that is seeking to develop a Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (C-STEM). Here in the United States, STEM has become an integral component of K-12 and higher education. Unfortunately, in the DR, STEM subjects are not necessarily the focus, and many young people are not prepared in any of these subject areas as they enter high school or even when they enter college.
|Dra. Claudina Vargas y Dr. Carlos Zómeta|
We spent time visiting with teachers, Church leaders and members, community members, and other organizations and groups like the Asocicación Dominican de Rehabilitación Dr. Carlos Zómeta, the DR’s version of Vocational Rehabilitation; Wagner Paniagua from the Centro de Auto-Suficiencia (Center for Self Sufficiency); President and Sister Rodríguez, Mission President of the Santo Domingo West Mission; Presidents Olivero and Brito, stake presidents in Santo Domingo and San Cristóbol, respectively; and many others. What was exciting about visiting with each of these groups and people was that everyone was excited about what we were about and expressed support for our projects.
|Teachers who attended the school newspaper workshop|
I also had an opportunity to meet with several teachers from three different schools in the Itabo region who are developing a school newspaper so their students can learn better writing, investigative, and publishing skills. Ironically, the power went out exactly at 5:00 p.m., and my beautifully organized PowerPoint presentation became a verbal show and tell. Power is a challenge in the DR. Some schools don’t even have power during the school day. Others have power intermittently throughout the day with a specific shutdown time.
|A classroom in the DR|
I salute the teachers in the DR. That is one reason we are developing a Teacher Training Institute to help them with a variety of issues. Interestingly, when I asked a few teachers what are the biggest challenges, I was surprised by their answers although I shouldn’t have been because they are almost the same as we have here: classroom management, community relations, communication strategies, competency-based education, assessment, and many others. Sound familiar, teachers?
|Teacher in Puerta Plata and Tekarra, a future teacher (Louise ZoBell's daughter)|
We will be looking for master teachers to teach in the Institute in these subject areas as well as in the STEM subjects. So, if you are a master teacher who speaks Spanish and can deliver workshops in Spanish, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are gathering a cohort group who can travel to the DR to help us develop and teach in the Teacher Training Institute.
|Yelissa y Omar Rijo (Omar is a Bishop in La Romana)|
Of course, I had the glorious opportunity to attend the LDS temple in Santo Domingo! It is one of the most beautiful temples in the world. While there I was able to connect with our wonderful friends Omar and Yelissa Rijo from Puerta Plata; Additionally, I received abrazos from numerous friends from our mission in Puerto Plata, Santiago, Haina, San Cristóbal, and Santo Domingo—too many to name. Gracias por sus abrazos!and Katherine Gutiérrez, two teachers in the DR Mission Training Center; and Wilson Segura, Julio César, and Alicia Gómez who work for the Area Office.
|Daniel and Darrel|
|Darrel, Katherine, and her novio|
Dulcita Lieggi. Her mother, Dulce, and grandparents were there, too. The grandparents were some of the first LDS converts in the DR.Doña Idalita and Clari Tavares, an incredible family who is so supportive of MACILE and the projects we are doing in the DR. Clari’s son is engaged to the former 2012 Miss Dominican Republic,
|La Familia Tavares|
What wonderful people they are! It was a delicious luncheon, but the company was even better.
|Darrel and Dulcita|
Of course, I had to have my picture taken with Dulcita, the 2012 Miss Dominican Republic!
|Claudina, Bonnie, Louise, and Darrel|
|Hill to climb to the school|
We also went to a school, up this very steep road. One teacher has two classrooms, one in the morning and one in the evening. While their supplies and resources are dismal at best, the teacher was so positive and welcomed us with home arms.
|The real reason why we are all doing what we are doing: helping students succeed!|