I recently returned from a unique experience with my son and a small group of friends in the northern area of the Dominican Republic. From 2004-2006, I served as a volunteer with the Peace Corps in a small rural sugarcane community called Caraballo. I wanted to bring my son, who is 12 years old, for a short service-learning opportunity to see where I had served and to work with my friend, who has a school in Cabarete. A tourist town for surfers, wind-surfers and kite-surfers, Cabarete is about 45 minutes from Caraballo. 

Sarah Ludwig-Ross, a friend whom I met during my Peace Corps days, is the founder of 3 Mariposas Montessori, a Montessori school in the heart of one of the Dominican Republic's poorest communities. The school makes early childhood education accessible to families ready for change. The total student population has children from various cultures, nationalities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, reflecting the local community's diversity.

We volunteered at her school for two days, which included giving presentations about our communities (Louisiana and Colorado), playing soccer, making beignets to share with the staff, organizing books, painting, and working in the garden. During our time in the DR, we also played in the ocean, took an excursion to the hills and waterfalls for canyoning, surfed, and visited other local nonprofits.

Tricia Suriel, another dear friend, amazing woman, and leader in the quest to end poverty, has an organization that works closely with the school. The Mariposa DR Foundation works with girls, teaching them skills and offering opportunities for education and play. We were able to tour the facility, and we spent many of our mornings at Cabarete Coffee, where some of the older girls in the Mariposa DR Foundation have the opportunity to work.

We had a wonderful time. I will always cherish the generosity of so many kind and boisterous people in the Dominican. The family I lived with during my Peace Corps days cooked a meal for us to enjoy before we walked through the community, reconnecting with past friends and community members, many of whom asked about my dog that I acquired in Peace Corps. They also  loved meeting my son.

I look forward to returning with my younger son in a few years to provide him with a similar opportunity and to see my second family again. I spent two years in this small community. Facebook has allowed me to continue communicating with many families there. I continue to learn from my original time in the DR, but I also experience growth every time I return, and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to share that with my son.



Thank you Christy for sharing your experience with us!