In line with Whitby School tradition, our 7th and 8th graders went on a service trip to the Dominican Republic. For the second straight year, they worked with the Mariposa Foundation, a nonprofit that educates and empowers girls in the remote barrios of Puerto Plata. Read posts written by our students as they reflect on their experiences.
¡Hola a la República Dominicana!
By Hope, Eighth Grader at Whitby
It's great to be back in the Dominican Republic! For many, this was their first time visiting the Mariposa Foundation. For others, it was our second time in the Dominican Republic. We saw that many things have stayed the same yet some things have changed as well.
Seeing how the foundation has changed in just one year was astonishing. They have new materials for the girls and are working on building new things that may help the girls learn about what they are passionate about. For example, this year the girls have been introduced to yoga and now have an outdoor studio.
They also built an experiential learning area based off of Eric Carle's children book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, in order to provide the girls with hands on learning. It was also nice to see that many things that I enjoyed last year stayed the same such as the activities like baseball, the food – we had rice and plátanos tonight, and the beautiful overall environment, especially the mango trees.
In addition, after being able to learn more Spanish throughout the year before coming to the Dominican Republic, I feel that I can now connect with the girls on a new level that I wasn’t able to last year because of the limited Spanish I knew.
A Birthday in the Dominican Republic
By Lauren, Seventh Grader at Whitby
Imagine waking up to the sunrise in the Caribbean, warm in your bed, and excited to start off your day. That was what the morning was like for the 7th and 8th graders of Whitby. Now imagine it is your birthday, that's what this morning was like for me.
Breakfast was served quickly after we were woken. It was a delicious meal filled with fruits, pastries, pancakes, etc. Anything we might want as needed. After breakfast, we gathered our things to get ready for our snorkel trip. Once we arrived, we got to sit back and enjoy the view until we got to the reef. I personally have snorkeled many times in the past. So I, along with the other "expert snorkelers," of Whitby were able to snorkel while the others were given instructions.
Once everyone was in the water, however, I found it was hard to tell who were the experts or the beginners. The whole experience reminded me of my dad, who was usually the one to snorkel with me in the past. We went to two different reefs that housed numerous types of beautiful and exotic fish. We spent the majority of our time out on the boat, so we were able to eat a nutritious meal there as well. Once we drove home we had an hour to get ready for our dinner.
Dinner was served at the Mariposa Foundation, which we toured yesterday. Again we had a wonderful meal prepared by the kind kitchen staff of Mariposa. To my surprise, we were also given cake in honor of my birthday. After dinner we were given choice time, which is free time where we have the choice to either swim in the pool, go to the beach, or explore the town/shop. I decided to go shop, along with many of my friends. Overall, it was a wonderful day that I will never forget.
By Jason, Eighth Grader at Whitby
On the third day of our trip to the Dominican Republic, my group was one of the first to do the community tour. On this exciting tour, our first trip was to "El Play". In El Play, we were able to speak to some of the locals and hear some of their stories. While we spoke to some of them, we were also able to see how some of them lived and how some of them struggled. They call it "El Play" because it is one of the first places where they had a baseball field and it is a good one. Scouts come to find baseball players here that they can recruit to play in the United States. Various people from the Puerto Plata area have made it to the MLB or Major League Baseball. For some of the boys, this is the only chance they have to get freedom from poverty or economic difficulties. We also got a chance to visit one of the local schools the Mariposa girls attend. It was eye-opening to see the differences in their school and what the girls have access to compared to our school in Whitby.
By Jack, Eighth Grader at Whitby
Today in the Dominican Republic we played sports and did various activities with the girls such as swim and play board games with them. Towards the end of the day I along with a few other students got a chance to talk about the donations we brought to the Dominican Republic. I talked about my 8th grade project which was a school supply drive for the girls in the Mariposa Foundation. We were able to bring different school supplies with us to the Dominican Republic such as: notebooks, folders, calculators, pencils, watercolor paints, rulers, markers, erasers, and much more! The girls were excited to hear that we had brought with us these supplies which they would get a chance to use while in Mariposa. It was great seeing the end result of my 8th Grade Project in person and seeing how it will help others in this community.
By Aaliya, Seventh Grader at Whitby
For me the DR felt like getting glasses because I had bad vision; opening up to a world which wasn’t in our privileged little corner really effected me in a good way. Today my group went into the community, taking away from what we saw — I realized that these people make the best of what they have and are very close as a community. Though they live completely different from us, it doesn’t stop them from being happy and kind to one another; actually knowing one another... unlike us in the US whom don’t pay attention to their neighbors. These new glasses that I have really changed my thinking of the world; my eyes finally saw clear.