Alaina Diebolt's Interational Practicum in the Dominican Republic


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Alaina Diebolt did an international practicum with fellow Lakeland College human services students in the Dominican Republic in April 2012. Her presentation covers what she learned about a different culture as well as herself during the travel and work done with the Community Service Alliance.

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Alaina Diebolt's Interational Practicum in the Dominican Republic

  1. 1. Alaina Diebolt
  2. 2. One of the major differences between school systems, is the fact that schooling in the Dominican is free. I believe schooling is free there because it keeps kids from harm and out of trouble. I hope it encourages families to allow their children to go to school and get an education. If school did cost anything, I think there would be a lot less children and youth attending school because of how hard it is to make any money down there. Obviously I found that there were a lot more differences than similarities between our school system and the Dominican’s. The first thing that caught my eye, in nearly every classroom, was the lack of material and resources. There was basically a chock board and small desk for the teacher, and small desks around the room for the students. Typically in a classroom up here, there would be a smart board or at least a white board, a computer, and multiple books provided.
  3. 3. It was interesting to see in the one school, “Kids Create”, all the similarities and things we were taught in our course, put in action, such as The Project Approach. I remember when I sat in on the pre school class down there, their routine was quite similar to ours. They would read out the months, days of the week, and point out patterns in the calendar. This is almost the exact same routine I did when I was on practicum my first year. I was very impressed with this school, I don’t think any of us wanted to leave. One thing I will never forget about this school, was the effort that the students and teachers put into learning/teaching English. In the classroom, there were posters hanging on the wall with a message that the kids wanted to send out to the community about children’s rights to family, home, school, etc. They were all such inspiring messages. The posters were written out in English (the way the students thought how to spell) I was so touched by the messages that they came up with. They were all so meaningful, and was so great to see how much they care about everyone in their country. “I wish every child could have a house” “I wish every child could be protected”
  4. 4. I have never spent much time in a day care facility at home, but I do have a sense of what it is like , and how one is run. In the Dominican, it is quite a bit different. We visited a day care at Kids Create Private School, and it was very interesting to see what was done different and what was done the same. There wasn’t a specific time for the infants/toddlers to eat or sleep, after they wake up from their nap they could get up and out of their cribs whenever they were ready, and they were very strict on not wearing your shoes in the rooms for sanitary reasons. One thing I loved about this room was the art work they had on the wall. They had many different paintings of each child’s hands, and lots of the paintings were painted with many different objects. Finger painting, sponge painting, and many other objects.
  5. 5. Another big difference at the schools, were the school yards themself. There was never really any room for students to play. Some school yards were bigger than others but even the big ones had nothing in them. I noticed this more so in Peurta Plata and Neyba. I remember the one day at our first school we worked in, the simplest game of, “who can catch the gloves the quickest”, was set up by one of the CSA members and the kids had so much fun. At home here, kids have the opportunity to play on the playground, involve themselves in a sport, or at least have equipment to set something up. I love that the schools and students can set up an activity with very few resources and equipment, and be happy.
  6. 6. Everywhere we went in the Dominican, there were huge cultural differences. The way of living down in the Dominican, is no where near the same as Canada. Other than Santo Domingo, people were living in little shacks on the side of the roads, or in very tiny houses. Not one house had glass windows, if you were living in the poor parts of the country, you were very limited to electricity, and you were lucky if you had a floor in your home. Running water was also was uncommon for families to have. There were times when we would see people bathing in natural pool, aka rivers. The city was a little different than when we were in Peurta Plata and Neyba. The homes were a little bigger, they had more of a yard, but the one thing I noticed was the amount of homes with barred windows. Even if they lived on the top floor of an apartment, they had their balconies barred. That just shows how easy and often break-ins occur. Food in the Dominican seemed to be almost the same thing every day. Not that it wasn’t good, but I must say, I was glad to come home and NOT have rice! The Dominican Republic flag is red, blue, and white. White is for rice, blue is for meat, and red is for beans. Our typical meal while we stayed there, was rice, chicken, cooked vegetables, beans, and freshly baked bread.
  7. 7. Everyday that we drove in town, we would always be shocked at how people drive down there. It’s basically “no guts, no glory” when it comes to driving. If you want to get across an intersection, you just drive, and hope people slow down for you. Here, if someone were to even cut another driver off, there would be major road rage! Bikes were even worse. There was no body wearing helmets, people driving on the sidewalk or cutting threw the middle of traffic and even three or four people to a bike. There is no way any of that would fly in Canada. It was really sad to see the amount of people trying to sell things on the street. They would try and sell you anything, even if it was just for a couple peso’s. The things these people would do to make a couple bucks was heartbreaking. We were told that a lot of kids that come up to you and try and get money, are sent by their parents. It was so hard not to give them anything.
  8. 8. The first school we visited in Peurta Plata was my favorite day of them all. We actually got to spend time with the kids. We had set up a game of “What time is it Mr. Wolf”, and even though the kids did not speak English, and we did not speak Spanish, I was able to communicate with the kids, no problem. The language barrier was not an issue at all. I think the kids especially enjoyed themselves, because its not every day that there is that much excitement going on at recess. After a couple rounds, I got one of the little boys to help me out by being the wolf, and after that he was glued to me and hanging off me like a monkey for the rest of the day. The excitement in all the kids eyes just showed that they were all so thankful that we were there.
  9. 9. While in Neyba, we were split into three groups to help the world vision group come up with ideas on how to promote health and safety. At first we were told to just come up with ideas on how they could take the information that they have learned and put the word out to the community. Little did we know that they did not exactly have information on any of this. At first it caught my group off guard, but we kind of just took control and got the group to interact and share with us what they knew about health and safety, and why it is important. It shocked me, at how little they actually knew. This was a group of people from the ages of 14-35, and they wanted to know more on the importance of washing your hands. It felt good teaching this group about what they wanted to learn. It was like our own lecture to a class. We started out by asking what the first step to washing your hands was. It was almost like they didn’t know how to answer the question, so I broke it down and said “what is the first thing you do after you step out of a stall in a bathroom”? They looked stunned but, we slowly got six steps on washing your hands done. We had to get a volunteer to do the art work of each step, so with as much enthusiasm as we could, we got a young fellow to do it, and he did such a great job. Again, the language barrier in this situation was not an issue. Manny (CSA leader) stood back and loved watching us try and communicate in our own language, and be able to get the point across with no translation. This was another awesome day I had interacting with people. I do wish we had more days like this where we were able to set up activities, workshops or any lesson, and interact with people from the community. I felt like I was accomplishing what I went down there to do.
  10. 10. After going on this trip, I have realized that I need to take every opportunity I get given to me, and go for it. I am so glad I took this chance to go on a trip like this and make a difference in peoples lives. I wish we were given more time with students and time spent in the classroom, but then again we wouldn’t have been able to complete all the things we did through out the community. I love that every teacher and student showed much appreciation towards the work we put into our murals, and constructing of libraries. More than once, I had been asked by the teachers down there if I would come back to their school and help teach English, or even continue to construct more libraries and such. My answer was “ABSOLUTELY”. If I had another opportunity like this, I would go back in a heartbeat. I think it would be so awesome to go to another third world country, and teach English or even something as simple as Health and Safety. I felt like I was there for a purpose, and would love to do it again. This trip was a major eye opener for me in many ways. It was tough to see the way people live down there. I used to only think it was that bad in the movies, but it is just like them. It was nice knowing that people respected what we were there for, and that they made sure we knew they valued everything we did for/with them. It makes me want to go back and continue what we were doing! I will never forget this life changing experience and all the fun times that were had with our group. I was very proud of all the girls (and Ryan) for being so mature and respectful towards one another. I don’t think I could have asked for a better group to share this all with.
  11. 11. Alaina Diebolt