Dominican Republic Service Trip
Dominican Republic Spring Break Service Trip January 12-19, 2013
Informational Meeting & Application Session Sept. 21st free period in SH220
Cost for the trip is $875 and includes air, food and lodging
Email email@example.com for more information
See video from 2010!
Article written by Siena senior Kelly Donnelly from the 2008 trip
Over spring break, a group of ten students went to the Dominican Republic on a service trip with the Bowman Center for Women. Led by Dr. Shannon O’Neill and accompanied by Brother Larry Anderson, the group volunteered with a group of Franciscan Sisters. Everyone who went on the trip found the whole experience eye-opening, as we had a chance to live and serve in an incredible nation that is so different from our own.
The community we served was extremely impoverished. The roads are dirt or in great need of repair. Most of the houses are made of different metals (mostly rusted) that are pieced together, have one or two rooms, and gaping holes in the ceilings and walls. There are piles of trash everywhere. Overall, the people own hardly any material possessions. Yet, amid this poverty they were phenomenally faith-filled and happy. On the first day, when we were at Mass, tons of children came up and hugged us before they even really met us. Throughout the week, we were continually impressed with how much everyone in the community welcomed us, and were willing to give and do for one another, despite the hardships they faced.
We were all amazed with how much the Sisters do for the community. The children only go to school for half a day, so the Sisters run a before-school program for the children who attend school in the afternoon, and an after-school program for those who attend school in the morning. Without this program, most of the children would be left alone on the incredibly unsafe streets without any supervision. The Sisters also run a health clinic that provides needed medical supplies and care for the immediate community and some of the surrounding communities. They run a baseball program for boys, which is an incentive for them to remain in school, as well as giving them a safe activity to participate in. In learning about all of these programs, we were all inspired to see how much the Sisters had truly implemented programs that served the unique needs of the community. Everything was done with practicality in mind, and they made sure that the community’s needs were met in an extremely sensitive manner.
Before going to the Dominican Republic, we collected supplies to be used in the medical clinic and by the children. We planned and led activities for the children in the before and after-school programs, helped out with some English classes for older children, and helped in the medical clinic. We were amazed with how incredible the children were! Materially, they had virtually nothing, and yet they were so filled with joy! They were incredibly kind-hearted towards everyone, and grateful for the tiniest things. One of the activities we led was an Easter egg hunt, where each child received a plastic egg filled with some candy. The kids were absolutely ecstatic when they found the eggs - - it is impossible to describe just how excited and grateful the kids were! This gratitude and excitement carried through in all of the activities. The whole Siena group commented on how fortunate we felt to meet all the people we encountered. It was a joy and a privilege to spend time with each of the people we had a chance to serve. Our whole experience was phenomenal, and it is clear that each person who went was inspired by everything and everyone we encountered, and made memories that will last a lifetime.
Article written by Siena sophomore Ben Thomas from the 2009 trip
We are proud to announce that the 3rd annual service trip to the Dominican Republic was a huge success. We were able to work with first through fourth grade classes in the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters’ brand-new elementary school. Concurrent with Franciscan tradition, the 140 students enrolled in the school are chosen out of a much larger applicant pool, giving priority to those who are the most poor. Although the school is private, the education is free. The teachers had been working for free for the last 5 months but while we were there, the Sisters received news that their school had been approved by the Ministry of Education and the government would begin paying their salaries.
Siena students taught English in the elementary classes and continued organizing projects for the after-school program. We were also able to leave a sizable monetary donation to their mission while there. Over this past service trip, Sister Valdair explained to us that the St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School would not exist as it does today without the help of Siena College. Every Thursday throughout the year, the sisters gather and pray for all of the Siena groups that have visited Santo Domingo, as well as the entire College.