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Dominican Republic: Spring Break 06
Twelve Eckerd students went to the rural town of Hato Mayor in the Dominican Republic to aid in the construction of a school and community center. The Eckerd group partnered with Dominican activists working for Centro Educativo Arras, a Hato Mayor-based organization dedicated to educating the area's youth, many of whom are unable to attend the town's already overcrowded public schools because they lack necessary documents such as birth certificates.
Throughout our time in Hato Mayor we stayed with Arras founders Sofia and Rafael in their home and worked on the construction of the school every day. During the week of service we cut rebar, mixed gravel and sand to make several tons of cement which was needed to finish the school's roof and interior walls - back-breaking labor that left us exhausted and in need of hearty Dominican food by the end of each day. We also had the opportunity to meet many of the children who will eventually be attending the school, an experience that put a human face on the value of service we performed.
While much of our time was spent covered in cement and sunburned from days of hard work under the Caribbean sun, we made sure to take some time to enjoy ourselves as well (after all, Spring Break can't be ALL work). Some of the highlights include a day spent at a beautiful, palm-tree lined beach, sampling corn-flavored ice cream, dancing reggaeton and merengue under the stars, climbing a small mountain for a priceless view, being interviewed on live Dominican TV, a quick tour of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, and sharing some great home-cooked meals together each day.
Everyone who went on the trip had a great time - and plenty of laughs - as we worked hard and lived together for one incredible week. Thanks to our efforts, in addition to those of other similar groups who have worked in Hato Mayor, the community school should be finished by Summer 2006.