"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."~ Gandhi
The above quote embodies the guiding force and philosophy with which I choose to live my life. I choose with every deed, action and force of my being to give more back to this world than I have used or will use. It is with this conviction that I have chosen and continue to choose the cause to be a change agent of social justice, service learning and sustainability within the field of education.
Currently, as the Director of Guidance and College Counseling here at Green Tech Charter High School for Boys, I work to help close the massive gaps and disparities in education and educational achievement as a result of race, socio-economic class and the lack of resources available to underrepresented communities. As such, I work in a community where the following statistics are prevelant;
90% of students : Free and reduced Lunch
40% of students with at least 1 or 2 parents incarcerated
11% of students homeless
89% students who are First generation- College Attendees.
Though the above statistics are alarming, these disparities can be far more prounounced in many other parts of this world. To address this cause within a service-learning framework, five years ago, I conceptualized AN INTERNATIONAL SERVICE LEARNING PROJECT FOR MY UNDERRERPRESENTED STUDENTS TO SERVE OTHER UNDRREPRESENTED STUDENTS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. The central idea was to impart a "Leave it better than you find it" sense through SERVICE and thereby helping to educate about and serve to close those disparities.
SEE VIDEO OF PREVIOUS TRIP:
WHY THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC or "La Isla Mas Linda" as I would like to call it? : My relationship with the Dominican Republic is a personal one as it has helped to produce my best friend and partner in life; my husband. Furthermore, The Dominican Republic (DR) is one of the most culturally vibrant and historically rich countries in the Americas. The warmth and resilience of Dominicans have charmed and inspired DREAM to set up its organization and its participants since 1995. DREAM’s history in the DR is one of mutual respect, enduring friendships and long-standing partnerships. While there is upward mobility to a growing middle class, and educational opportunities continue to improve in the DR, poverty remains a fact of life in much of the country. So precarious are resources that electricity is rationed in the poorest neighborhoods by turning off power for up to 10 hours daily. Service in the DR is both demanding and immensely rewarding.
FOR ALL OF MY STUDENTS WHO GO ON THIS TRIP, THIS IS THEIR FIRST INTERACTION WITH THE LARGER WORLD. FOR SOME THIS IS FIRST OF MANY FIRSTS. THE FIRST TIME APPLYING FOR A PASSPORT, THE FIRST TIME LEAVING THEIR CITY LET ALONE THEIR COUNTRY. THIS BEING AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THEM TO SEE THEMSELVES IN OTHERS AND BY LOOKING AT THAT MIRROR, A MIRROR INTO THE POSSIBILITIES OF SOCIAL JUSTICE, SERVICE AND EMPOWERMENT.
In past years, I have been able to take with me 10 students to Caberete, Dominican republic to work with our partner "The DREAM Project http://dominicandream.org/. Through this partnership we have been able to help build infrastructure within schools as well as teach impoverished children. THIS YEAR OUR GOAL IS TO EXTEND AN INVITATION TO 20 OR MORE STUDENTS TO THE INTERNATIONAL SERVICE LEARNING TRIP TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.
THIS VISION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE AND SERVICE LEARNING HAS A POTENTIAL TO BECOME REALITY WITH YOUR HELP! ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
SERVICE TRIP FACTS
*• Math science and service knowledge will be applied to this service trip for construction and irrigation projects
• A 7-10 day excursion will include about 20 students and three chaperones
• We will build upon the DREAM partnership
• Trips expenses for these 23 individuals will be roughly $17,000
"Before I went to the Dominican Republic back in 2011 I had very little interest in global issues as they didn't relate to me. However, once I came back from the trip in 2011 I became more globally concerned. What I mean by this is that I was unaware about how poorly the education system is in other countries. Many Americans can only base what they hear off of TV commercials or YouTube videos."
~Aaron Cassidy - Class of 2013
“My trip to the Dominican Republic was something that I will never forget. I was humbled by the experience but more so by what it did for the students who went, and the students we taught. Our boys here at GTH are mostly from the inner city, they know poverty and struggle. But what they did not know was the everyday struggles faced by students just like them. From the day we reached the island until we left we were there to help others. The biggest thing I can take from this trip is, the selflessness shown by everyone on the trip. We all knew that we could be home, in AC and watching television or maybe playing basketball; instead we gave back...The trip to the Dominican Republic changes lives, I am just glad it also changed mine.”
- Mr. Hines –
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