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29 posts categorized "Santiago Service"

Meet your Session 1 Program Leader: Chrissy Gill


Hello! My name is Chrissy and I will be leading both Session 1 of the Service and Leadership program to Santiago, Dominican Republic and Session 2 of the Service and Leadership program to Guanajuato, Mexico. I am super excited to be back with CIEE for my 3rd summer!  I am from Lowell, Massachusetts. I teach Spanish and Public Speaking at Lowell Catholic High School.  Outside of school I also teach dance and love to do anything active... hiking, camping, biking, softball, etc. 

I am really excited to return to the Dominican Republic. I go down with students from my school every December to volunteer in the Puerto Plata area. I absolutely LOVE Dominican culture! I am ready for non-stop bachata music, empanada trucks, and of course the incredibly kind and caring people! 

See you all soon!


Meet your Session 1 Program Leader: Jennifer Tubbs

Jennifer Tubbs Photo

Hola, todxs!

Soy Jennifer. I'll be one of your program leaders for the Service and Leadership program in Santiago, the Dominican Republic. I'm originally from Texas, which is what prompted me to start learning Spanish from an early age. I just got back from teaching English in Chile for a year, after which time I backpacked around Ecuador and Colombia. 

I'm passionate about education, learning through service, sustainability, and going on adventures in the wilderness! [Fun fact: I almost froze to death in Patagonia.]

I'm very happy to be able to share my love of Spanish and Latin American culture with y'all this summer.

I'm so excited to meet y'all and I can't wait to explore the Dominican Republic with you! 

Hasta pronto, 



6/16 in Santiago: Mackell & Will


Today we went to Niños con una Esperanza. Going there has been so fun! The kids are very friendly and love to play. Today I was one of the people in charge of playing games outside. I played with the really little kids. I went around and pushed them on the swings. Every kid also wanted a turn having a piggyback ride. The little kids love phones. They enjoy taking pictures of each other. Everyone wanted to take pictures, so I ended up letting every kid that wanted to take two. I ended up with a ton of pictures.

I have really loved playing with the kids. It has been a very good experience and has really impacted me. It has shown me how you need friends and family in your life. It has also shown me that we can have a positive outlook on everything.



Today was a very eye-opening experience to the everyday culture of the Dominican Republic citizens. Once again, I woke up early. At first, I was upset that I couldn't get more sleep and annoyed that I wasn't allowed to sleep in. However, after some thought about it, I realized that this is what the citizens of this country need to do everyday to make a living. Today, we visited Acciòn Callejera - a community of kids who aren't as fortunate as the average American child. We taught them about different cultures around the world, which in my case was France. We did some activities, such as drawing the Eifel Tower and learning how to say words in French. After that, we played with some of the kids and had a great time. After visiting Acciòn Callejera, I took a siesta at home and then we went to Spanish classes. After learning a bit of Spanish, we headed out to a community of physically and mentally disabled people, where we toured and prepared to volunteer tomorrow. After that, I got home and rested. Overall, today was a great experience and a good way to serve the community of Santiago.


6/15 in Santiago: Jenna & Laura


Today was a very enriching day, as this whole trip has been. My group went to Niños con una Esperanza which translates to "Children with Hope," which is very fitting, because hope is what this organization is giving them. They are learning, being fed, and playing like a kid should be able to. My job was to play board games with the kids, but we mostly just ended up hanging out and talking. They did a beautiful braid in my hair, put stickers all over my face, and laughed when I slammed the dominos down on the table like they did. After a delicious lunch, we took a siesta then were greatly pleased by the coffee and cookies that our host mom brought us that really helped us wake up for our culture class. We talked about some really interesting topics today, about American culture, ourselves and our identity, and Dominican culture. All of the activities are so fun, but I really enjoy just hanging out with my roommates talking and laughing. We are from all over the country, so it is very eye-opening comparing our beliefs and customs. I also love talking with my host mom. She is an amazing woman with great stories and a lot of wisdom. Luckily for me, she is also a great chef. The time here is flying by faster than I ever thought it could and I am enjoying the Dominican Republic so much.




While I've been in the Dominican Republic I've come across many new experiences. New foods, riding in taxis/ conchos, walking around downtown, speaking in a new language. As we walk down the street there's people that stare at us and look at us funny because we're different looking than them. But I realized something today at the seminar. It was how we perceive different cultures. Our attitude is everything. You could have a positive mind set or a negative one, and that's how you will look upon the different culture. I thought that they were all judging us as we walk down the street, but in a activity we did we couldn't even agree on the basic of our US culture, so how could we agree upon the basic of a culture we have just entered? It's a very different culture but I'm starting to understand it more.



6/14 in Santiago: Kelly & Claire

For our Santiago Service and Leadership blog, two students will be writing about what we did that day, something cultural that they learned, what they are noticing about the Dominican Republic, etc. Here are entries from Kelly and Claire!!


Today we woke up early and had breakfast. Here in Reparto Universitario in Doña Ilda's apartment, we had pancakes and juice. With every meal we have different fruit juices. It's very different than the United States. I think we try a new type of juice almost every day. There are also different types of fruit. We have mangos in the United States, but they're very expensive, and I don't eat them very much. Two days ago I had the honor of trying papaya for the very first a time. Definitely the highlight of my trip. I can't wait to find papaya when I get home. For Christmas I'm going to ask for a papaya tree. I may need a greenhouse to grow it, but that's okay. It'll be worth it. Whatever it takes. Today was the first day we got to work with the NGOs. I'm in group A, so we got to go to Niños con una Esperanza. I had a great time working with the youngins. We played board games and made arts and crafts. Some children went up to me because they wanted to practice their English. I was very confused during the first game I played with some of the older kids because they kept saying the Spanish word for kill, and I thought that I was misunderstanding them, but it turns out it was part of the game. For lunch we had leftover omelets, eggs, and left over pasta. I love all the food here especially the papaya. After lunch was Spanish class. I'm excited to get better at Spanish. Being here in Santiago has inspired me to want to become fluent in Spanish and eat more papaya. We just got back from Spanish class and my host mother gave us cake and pineapple. I can't wait for tomorrow. I'm so glad I got this wonderful opportunity. Thanks CIEE and thanks to my wonderful family. Shoutout to my sister Rachel, my brother Jack, my father Joe, my mother Betsy, the dog Stella, my other dog penny, my cat Chloe, my cat Abby, and the final cat Oreo. I would also like to thank my guinea pigs Biscuit and Montesquieu for their unyielding support. I couldn't have done it without you!



I think one of my favorite things we have done so far is go to the batey. A batey is a Haitian community that was formed when the Dominican Republic got workers from Haiti to work in the sugar cane plantations. The workers brought their wives from Haiti and started a community. The community faces many problems such as low income ($5 a day) and unemployment because many of the sugar cane plantations are closing. However when arrived you could not tell from the up beat spirits of the people, especially the younger generations. As we sat in the sports play ground area a small group of kids formed, pointing at us and giggling as we learned about the history of their community and were introduced to a group of teenage boys who went by the name of Street Boys. As soon as we stood up the children rushed forward and grabbed some of our hands as we walked through the community. It was not a fancy community but the people were out and enjoying themselves, some of them bathing, and most said hello as we passed by. While walking we attracted more and more children until they almost outnumbered us. Most of them asked for our "celulares" (phones) for "juegos" (games) which they loved. We watched a performance by the Street Boys which was very entertaining and actually extremely good. It was definitely better than any rapping that boys from my school do! A couple of us got to participate and we sang the chorus to Justin Bieber's "Sorry" while they rapped the verses. It was hot and we were all sweaty and gross but we were all having a ton of fun. We finished the day with a game of basketball, for those of us who could play, and some time with the little kids, for those of who couldn't play. I met a little lady of two years old who had golden heels and was all made up. She was super shy and she didn't talk but we had a lot of fun on the play ground and watching the basketball game. It was hard to say goodbye to all the kids and all the friends we had made but the day was so meaningful and fun and an eye opening experience to begin our Dominican Republic trip.

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Santiago Photos


Group photo at 27 Charcos. We were lucky to have Gray, a member of the CIEE team, and several Dominican students from the ALPI institute with us!! 

Dr Reginald

Dr. Reginald Kerolle and several children of Batey Baraguana


A group of our CIEE students with children from the batey. We loved playing with the kids and hearing members of the community sing!!

Stay tuned for blog posts written by our own students!!!!!

27 Charcos and Batey Baraguana

Today was a day of big adventures!! ! First, we went to 27 Charcos de Damajagua with Dominican students from ALPI, which is a language institute here in the DR. Charcos means waterfalls, and at 27 Charcos, there are 27 waterfalls that visitors can slide down, jump off, and swim through. After a 40 minute hike to our starting point, we were VERY appreciative of the cool water. We only got to do 12 waterfalls today, but we all had an AMAZING time!! We ate lunch at a restaurant near 27 Charcos, and then we got back on the bus to head towards the Batey Baraguana, where we met Dr. Reginald Kerolle. We learned that in the Dominican Republic, a batey is a settlement around a sugar mill where migrant workers from Haiti come to work. Historically, these workers were seasonal and came for the sugar harvest, but over time, some of the migrants stayed in the bateys. Members of these communities tend to make low wages and are often lacking in adequate education and health care. However, at Batey Baraguana, Dr. Kerolle explained that there are efforts being made to provide more access to education for the young people of the batey. We met several young members of the community, both Haitian and Dominican, who were learning English and music with the hopes that these skills will help them find work outside of the batey. They even have a band called Street Boys, who performed several songs for us – even Justin Bieber! We also fell in love with the young children of this batey, who immediately held our hands, climbed on our backs, and wanted to play with our cameras!! This experience, while difficult to understand, made us VERY excited to be in the Dominican for service opportunities. After playing with the kids today, we CAN’T WAIT to go to Niños con una Esperanza and Acción Callejera tomorrow!

Photos of today's activities to follow :) 

Búsqueda de tesoro en Santiago

Today was a fun-filled action packed day. Today we had a "búsqueda del tesoro" or scavenger hunt. We were divided into two groups to search around downtown and find various locations. We took pictures of things, places, and people that we met. We learned how to take the "concho" taxis around the town. Who knew we could fit so many people in a 4-door sedan! Today was a great teamwork experience. Many of us demonstrated our different leadership skills. This makes us excited to see what other skills we'll see when we begin our service project. Check back again for more updates soon! 

Day 1 in Santiago

After we all made it safely yesterday to Santiago and our homestays (even with some delayed flights!), we had a great first day of orientation and tours! This morning we spent some time getting to know each other, we talked about what culture means to us, and we learned about the service organizations that we will be working with!! After a quick break for lunch with our host families, we changed our money, stopped for some passion fruit ice cream, and took a group photo in front of one of Santiago's most popular spots: the Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration. Finally, we ended our first day together after we visited one of the country's best cultural centers, Centro León, where we saw an exhibit and learned more about Dominican and Caribbean culture. So far we are having lots of fun, and we can't WAIT for all of the adventures to come!! 





Ice cream

Trying passion fruit ice cream at "Bon"



Group photo in front of the monument