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66 posts categorized "Santo Domingo Service"

Angela sums up the weekend

Hola from Santo Domingo! 

Our first weekend in the Dominican Republic has already come and gone! Tonight we will hear from Angela who gives us a great summary of her weekend! 

"This weekend we went to Isla Saona! The water was extremely clear and everyone loved the refreshing wind that blew as the boat went faster and faster! At the island, I tried a coconut for the first time and took many pictures with friends in front of the huge palm trees. On Sunday, I spent some time with my host family and then had chocolate waffles at a nearby cafe. Later on, I went to the movies to see Cars 3 in Spanish with Ellie, Caitlyn, and Gennie. It was confusing at times but Ellie managed to translate for me. Then, I ended the day with a large bowl of ice cream!" 


Isla Saona!


Getting off the boat to enjoy some island time! 


Angela and friends dance some Zumba on the island! 


Enjoying the boat ride and the amazing view! 

Angela sums it up pretty well! Saturday was spent on Isla Saona and today was a free day for the students to spend with host families and get to know Santo Domingo a little more! Tomorrow we are back to our service site.




A trip to the Zoo

Hola from Santo Domingo!

Despite waking up to some rain showers this morning, the day cleared up quickly and we were off to the Santo Domingo Zoo bright and early. We joined the Don Bosco 7-10 year olds on their field trip to the Zoo, located just minutes away from the service site. We were all pleasantly surprised to board a train on arrival for a little safari tour of the animals. During the safari, Lindsey was singled out from the group when the gorilla tossed her a stone over the fence! After the tour, we went to the park and enjoyed some time playing on the playground.

Today’s leader of the day, Sophie Prochilo says, “today we went to the zoo with the kids and I couldn’t believe how something so simple as seeing animals could make a person so happy. It was super interesting going to the zoo and seeing how different it was. The animals were separated from the viewing area by only a short fence and a ditch. At the zoo we saw rhinos, a jaguar, lions, tigers and even an iguana. In the zoo there was also an amazing playground for the kids to play. During this time we were able to learn new games such as one they call Mickey Mouse. I had such an amazing time bonding with the kids outside of a school setting."




This afternoon, Spanish class also included a very fun twist. After learning food vocabulary and names of common Dominican dishes, the students were handed plantains, yucca and salami to start preparing their late afternoon snacks. They made tostones (plantains that are fried, smashed, then fried again), arepitas de yuca (grated then fried yucca) and fried salami.



Nicole shows off her plate of salami, tostones and arepita de yuca. 


Noemi in the kitchen with a bowl of plantains. 


Kendra frying plantains for the tostones. 


Sarah smashes a fried plantain. Now it will be sent back to the kitchen to be fried again. 


The girls hold up a bowl of yucca as they prepare arepitas.


Everyone gathers around their Spanish teacher to learn how to make arepitas de yuca.

Today brings week one of service and Spanish classes to an end. Genevieve Marquez, Sophie’s co-leader today, says “we made it through our first week! So much has happened in the past 6 days and the unique experiences we’ve encountered have helped create such a close bond in such a short amount of time. Everyone contributes to the group in their own way which allows one person’s strengths to make up for another person’s weaknesses. I can’t wait to see our bond grow more and more as time passes.  ¡Somos familia!"

Tomorrow we are off to Isla Saona for some beach time! 



Service Day 2

Hello Everyone!

Today was yet another fantastic day in Santo Domingo! It was our second day at our service site and it was apparent that strong bonds are forming fast between the CIEE and Don Bosco students. We began the morning dancing with the students and then broke off into our small groups. We did different arts and crafts projects depending on the age of the students. When the kids finished with their craft, various CIEE students started to teach them some English words, others began learning to dance bachata, and more shared different hand games. 

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Everyone is feeling very positive about their new friendships at the service site. Many have been challenged to speak more and more Spanish each day as the kids ask them questions about their home, family, and favorite types of music.

After lunch with host families, their afternoon was spent working through some activities that are part of the service and leadership curriculum. We had a long discussion with the group about the story behind our names. This helped us get to know each other better but also talk about cultural differences. Tomorrow we are off to the zoo with the Don Bosco students in the morning and learning to cook Dominican food in the afternoon! Check in tomorrow night for more on those activities!

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First day of service

What a wonderful first day of service! We started with a dance & exercise break where our students jumped right in the middle of the action, following along to the dance moves of the leader on stage. Then we separated into the groups that we'll be with for the next few weeks. Our group is divided in pairs of 2-3 and we're spread throughout different age-group classes at the site. We're working with students from 6-16 years old! Everyone has been eager to get to know each other, and our students are excited to learn more and practice their Spanish. After classes there was a special visita from Helados Bon, the local ice cream chain. They led everyone through more dances and activities, and at the end gave everyone a paleta!

As part of the Spanish classes, in the afternoon we went to Mercado Modelo to practice bartering in Spanish. Lots of great deals were made while souvenir shopping. Students had the evening free to spend time together and with their host families. Safe to say it was a busy day, and we are looking forward to another busy day of service tomorrow! Check out some photos of today below:


Arts and crafts!




Activities by Helados Bon


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Everyone enjoyed their paleta!



Day 2


Today has been another long day here in Santo Domingo. The morning started off with a tour of the service site, Fundación Salesianos de Don Bosco, where we got introduced to the students and staff that we'll be working with over the next few weeks. Every one of our students introduced themselves in Spanish, too! We had a few minutes to get to meet the kids before we headed back to the CIEE Study Center for a scavenger hunt around Gazcue, our neighborhood here. Once our winners collected their Baskin Robbins prize, it was time for lunch. 


Program Leader, Heather, interpreting the tour of the service site!




Inbar introducing herself to everyone in Spanish!

Ellie and Grant getting to know the kids!


H'Po meeting the kids!

The afternoon was spent taking a tour of the Zona Colonial, followed by another session of the Service and Leadership curriculum. We have a large group (30 students!) and so far, we program leaders are truly impressed by everyone's commitment to being open-minded, inclusive, and positive! We have all been bonding incredibly in just a few short days :)


Sarah Maria, Angela, and Ayan at the Choco Museo in the Zona Colonial!


One of our leaders of the day, Nicole, simulating grinding cacao beans at the Choco Museo!


Students at the Parque Colón


Students pose in front of the first cathedral of the New World

We are thrilled to begin our routine at the service site tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for our first day of service blog post! 

Hasta pronto,


Welcome to Santo Domingo!

Hello from Santo Domingo!

All the students arrived yesterday to a warm welcome from their host families. Students went home from the airport to enjoy their first dinner with their new Dominican family and rest up for orientation day! 

Today was packed full of information about the Dominican Republic, the culture, language, food, our service site, and much more. We had lunch and dinner all together as a group and the students got to try a variety of typical Dominican foods, including a popular side dish called tostones. After lunch, everyone had the opportunity to venture out to exchange money, visit the grocery store or grab an ice cream. 

Throughout the afternoon we jumped right into some icebreaker activities and everyone started really getting to know each other. Check out some photos from yesterday and today!


One group of students wait for their flight with program leader, Jessica.


Welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Students start getting to know each other during orientation.

Playing with dominos with a host brother.

Grant and Ayan pause for a photo with their host mother.

Orientation games at the CIEE study center.

Students begin getting to know each other a little better through orientation activities. 




The host mothers all came to CIEE yesterday to pick up their new students.

Tomorrow morning we are off to our service site for the first time to get to know a little more about the organization that we will be working with these next three weeks. Everything is off to a great start here in Santo Domingo! 

Check back tomorrow for more updates on the trip!


Meet your Session 2 Program Leader: Melissa Zeiher

Hola, soy Melissa Zeiher , I'm excited to be a program leader for the Service and Learning program in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in session 2. I'm from Northern California, I teach Spanish at Redwood High School, and I live in Sausalito near San Francisco. I recently returned from a year in South America, where I was based in San Juan, Argentina on an Fulbright English teaching grant. Prior to that I taught AP Spanish at El Segundo High School in Los Angeles, CA for 6 years. I have my MA in bilingual education, and two summers ago I led the Global Discovery program with CIEE in Seville, Spain. I have a lot of experience with service learning in Tijuana, Mexico (35+ trips), so I'm excited to get back into that in the DR. I am currently in Alicante Spain, wrapping up the Language and Culture program for session 1. I am looking forward to getting to know the DR, dancing bachata, and sharing my passion for travel, service, Spanish, and learning about new cultures.

Nos vemos pronto!

-Melissa Zeiher

Meet your Session 2 Program Leader: Jessica Meza



Saludos! My name is Jessica and I am one of the program leaders for Session 2 to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I live in Minneapolis, MN where I work at an elementary school teaching math, literacy, and Spanish to K-5 students. This is my third summer program leading with CIEE in Santo Domingo and I am absolutely thrilled to be returning. Get ready to immerse yourselves in the warmth of the DR culture (and climate), I can't to meet you all in a few days! We are going to have an unforgettable summer. Nos vemos pronto :)


A few last-minute photos!

These are photos I didn't get a chance to include in last night's post. Have good reunions, everyone!!




Last Day at the Service Site

Good afternoon, Everyone!

Today was the last day at Batey Pavalé. I could tell the second we got there, that this was going to be an especially energetic and fun day. The kids at Pavalé had prepared an incredible dance presentation for us, which consisted of at least 5 different group dances, including merengue. There is so much talent at the school! It makes us realize just how important dancing and music is in daily life here. It's so rewarding as a program leader to see how integrated into this community the CIEE kids have become. No one asks where to go anymore, everyone just jumps right into a game or activity with ease. Whether that's playing volleyball, painting the mural, or helping organize another game like duck duck goose, everyone has their niche. We ended our time with a group lunch of rice, beans, chicken and areptita (corn-based, deep fried goodness). Saying goodbye but sentimental, but everyone seemed so content to have had such a positive experience in Pavalé. 

Tonight we had have a farewell dinner that included all the staff members. This was be our last chance to be together as a group, and was bittersweet. It's hard to say goodbye to people with whom you've shared such a unique and intense three weeks! I'll post photos from the dinner late tonight or tomorrow morning, then it's off to the airport. Have a great evening, and thanks so much for following along with our Dominican adventures; from beaches to tropical forest and everywhere in between!




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Me, Heather, Emily