Blessings from the Dominican Republic

Posted by Eric.Nygard on Monday January 26, 2015

               There were many gifts awaiting in the Dominican Republic. They went beyond waking up and looking at the mountains, savoring the coffee and enjoying the people. This is motherland, the place where I was born and raised for the first 14 years of my life. Much to my surprise, coming back to Student-Teach was filled with unpredictability. 
               The first week in my Kindergarten classroom was amazing. These children welcomed me and loved me. We did not have the barriers of American culture. I had casual meals with their parents and I hugged and kissed the family as much as I wanted. I taught these 5-year-olds how much freedom they have in their relationship with Christ and that would cause them to better their relationships with one another in a more creative and consistent way. We would share anecdotes and jokes before and after school. We would review lessons and it always baffled me how willing they were to learn outside their classrooms. 
              There was a weekday when there were no classes and I went to volunteer with a ministry that helps one of the poorest areas in the Dominican Republic. They have a school and a Social Work site where they bring as many resources as possible to these impoverished families. As we did a prayer walk around this community, I saw children without shoes or underwear walking in mud. I saw many hungry families and many young children taking adult responsibilities, having to maintain their households. I saw the absence of resources such as water, electricity, a pipe system, etc. I saw many sicknesses and many needs that are yet to be met. But I did not see the absence of laughter, trust, joy and hope. I saw rare faith in the midst of this community and I realized how much I have that I do not need. I realized I want my excess resources to serve the people who have these needs. I want to cherish community, love and faith over material things. I want to bring light into dark places and love children and families of all ages. 
                Student-teaching in the Dominican Republic changed me. It made me come back to what is really important. The connection we share with Christ and one another is priceless. It is worth more than any accomplishment. I want the Lord to push me beyond my worldview and see the world as He sees it. So in the end of Student-Teaching, I discovered that as we attempt to teach we must be ready and willing to learn. We must be willing to put our guards down, to embrace and be embraced, to be content in any situation and exalt our God while we cherish the image bearers he has placed among us.

-Anel Vicente Childhood Education/Early Childhood Education December 2014 graduate

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