Deeds in the Dominican

Spanish students travel abroad this summer on service trip

dominican republic

Students on the trip worked in an environmental school in Jarabacoa. Photo provided by junior Sierra Moore.

Junior David Ruwwe has been taking Spanish since he was in sixth grade. He finally was able to put the skills he has learned to work when he and a group of other students went to the Dominican Republic for a week this summer.  He originally heard about the trip at the beginning of his sophomore year.

“I realized we would be doing service work and that sounded really interesting, and my friends were going,” Ruwwe said.


Students work on planting trees at the environmental school. Photos provided by Juana Gun.

Spanish teacher Juana Gun said she was very interested in doing service work in a Spanish-speaking country. She and World Geography teacher Katie Carrasco wanted to go on a school trip, but Carrasco wanted to do something environmental. The Dominican offered an opportunity for both.

The group stayed in a mountain town called Jarbacoa at a small hotel that was just down the road from the environmental school.

“We started with early morning breakfast then reported to the worksite and worked hard for several hours beautifying the grounds,” Gun said. “Then the students in the Dominican would cook us a yummy meal. The rest of the day we would just have fun. We went to the beach and on hikes. Everything was so beautiful.”

Ruwwe said the locals communicate differently than Americans.

“There weren’t any barriers holding them back from getting to know each other,” Ruwwe said. “It was a big difference from back in the States.”


When the group was at the school, they worked on beautifying the grounds, planting trees, building terraces for the school, and they also laid down gravel paths.  Gun said it was a lot of physical work.

“The kids that go to the school have to get there and work half the day on the grounds, then the second half of the day the kids learn,” Gun said. “At home, we just have to go to school during the day and learn.”

The kids there have to apply to the school to get in, and when they get in, they live on campus.

Ruwwe said he wanted to get to know the students at the school better.

“I was trying to find common interests,” Ruwwe said. “I knew that the Dominicans were really into baseball. I talked to them about David Ortiz and MLB and about Dominican baseball players that went to the States. It was cool finding something we both knew about even though we are from different places. The conversations got deeper once we got to know each other better.”


Gun said as the trip came to a close, it was an emotional time.

“We loved them and they loved us and our enthusiasm,” Gun said. “Whenever you have to say good bye to a new friend it hurts.”

Ruwwe said it was an eye-opening experience.

“Something I took away from the trip is how happy they were even though they didn’t have very much,” he said. “That is what hit home for me.  You realize how complicated our society is compared to their’s and they have so little, yet they are so happy.”


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