By Sarah Coste, The Potomac School, McLean, VA
At last… July 23rd is here! Eleven teachers representing eight different schools joining Nobis World for a week-long service learning adventure in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. While we had informally “met each other” through various pre-trip community building activities, it was exciting to finally meet face to face to begin sharing our personal stories and professional interests.
After a quick stop at the grocery store to buy a few provisions, we began settling in at the wonderful Kite Beach Inn in Cabarete, a small laid back Caribbean beach village. We sought temporary refuge from the 95 degree heat in our rooms to hydrate and unpack. The best part of the day was gathering together beach-side for formal introductions and stage setting for the week to come. Tropical breezes, kite surfers and Caribbean music provided an extraordinary backdrop for launching the interesting conversation to come. After a warm welcome, Christen, Nobis World’s founder and Executive Director, asked us to write down a hope and a fear for the week ahead. Papers were collected and redistributed anonymously. After introducing ourselves and learning about each other’s connections to service learning, we shared the hope and fear. This part of the evening provided a great launch pad for relationship building.
After a delicious family-style dinner prepared by chef Freddie, we met our Mariposa hosts and trip coordinators, Erika and Sarah. Erika gave us a great overview of the Mariposa Center for Girls, describing program history and highlights. She placed their work in the context of “The Girl Effect,” a global movement based on the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world. She went on to say that Mariposa believes when you take a holistic approach to improving a girl’s life through education, health, safety, and opportunity, these changes have a ripple effect and a profound impact within communities. Sarah closed with the do’s and don’ts of the DR, emphasizing our safety and well being. After reviewing the next day’s itinerary, we ended by writing a letter to our future selves, detailing our hopes and dreams and what we hoped to gain from the experience. Christen said she would mail these to us in a month or so. It will be interesting to compare the actual program impact to what we perceived it to be on day one.
We are excited to meet the members of the Mariposa community tomorrow and dive into what promises to be a unique and life changing experience.