North America · 9 Days · 50 Moments · June 2018

Service & Language in the Dominican Republic


23 June 2018

Made it to SF!

22 June 2018

As a parent Its our job to raise childen into responsible adults who contribute to society This expereience with EF tours has not only given my child tools to do that, but has given him a sense of purpose and empowerment to make a difference not only in his community but internationally. Being truly submerged in the environment, he was able to learn and use the language. He was able to interact with the locals and experience thier culture first hand and that is worth every penny of the cost of the trip. I would encourage every parent to stop giving thier children vacations or "stuff" and give them an opportunity like this becasue it truly will be a memorable experience of a lifetime. -Theresa Novello Mom of 12 year old world traveler Domanik Sánchez
Stuck on the runway, waiting for the storm to end so we can disembark! 😫
Made it to Miami Airport!
It’s so hard to say goodbye... When you spend an entire week together, your bus driver and your EF tour director become your family! Our lives are in their hands 🤣
My favorite thing during this trip was meeting Mercedes, a local from Angostura, and learning to cook from her. It was a a great experience because it allowed me to practice my Spanish as well as learn more about the Dominican culture. I’m always going to remember all the people I met on this trip. I’ve learned so much from the new people that I have met and I hope that we stay in touch. I hope that when I go back home i will be able to help more people and do more service because I have learned so much from this trip and I want to keep learning. -Muzala Kuwatu
Part 2: In the end I hope we all learned a little more Spanish and realized the world is a much bigger place than Sacramento California. The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country with beautiful people and I would love to return some day. -El Jefe Kerns
Part 1: I spent the past week in the Dominican Republic and had the adventure of a lifetime. We started our journey in Santiago where we met a group from North Carolina that was joining us. Our first morning we did introductions and learned a little Spanish. That afternoon we drove to Angostura and were introduced to locals in the community and our hosts for the next 4 days. Angostura challenged us with tree planting, difficult hikes in the mountains, stove building, and Spanish lessons. We helped out and were helped at all times. We slept under bug nets and occasionally had no power. Some had cold showers and some were stung by wasps. Through it all we learned to appreciate how hard the locals work for what little they seemingly have. We also became close to each other and made new friends. We had fun river rafting and marveled at how beautiful the fish in the ocean are. Snorkeling at Cayo Arena was no doubt my favorite. -El Jefe Kerns
I liked the white water rafting activity the best because it was like a rollercoaster. I will always remember “Claud”, our EF director, because he is now one of my best friends because we are both gamers. This trip encouraged me to plant more trees and to raise money to build water filter by having a game tournament. -Domanik Sánchez
Final desayuno!

21 June 2018

“Traveling, it leaves you speechless, then it turns you into a story teller”. -Ibn Battuta When I think about yesterday I think about how much fun I had hiking, building a stove, talking to the girls from the community, buying items from the market, and making some long lasting memories. I really don’t want this trip to end but it isn’t over until I get to my driveway. Anyways, building the stove was so much fun. Helping and learning about different cultures has really got me inspired and made me think about how much we take for granted. I really appreciate everything my friends and family do for me now. This trip has opened up my eyes. Talking, laughing, and making new friends has been a blast! I definitely will not forget this trip! -Naiomi Kelley

20 June 2018

We arrived in Santiago and hurried into our rooms to shower, but the students realized the hot water was brown! We were told the hotel was already working on this, but that it was a common thing in the DR because of the plumbing system! Pobrecitos! We said our goodbyes to our amazing language specialist, Patricia and sat down for dinner. We shared some impressions of our service trip and and enjoyed a delicious meal of juicy pork, yellow rice, steamed vegetables and bread. Some of the girls used their “free drink” coupon for a “virgin” piña 🍍 colada!
After our last lunch at Angostura and saying our goodbyes to the beautiful families there we went into Jarabacoa for a “Market Challenge”. We were given 300 pesos, about $6, and about 10% of what the average Dominican Family makes a month to purchase ingredients for a special 🥘 meal called “Sancochó”. Each member of our team found one ingredient and barter with the salesman. We realized how difficult it would be to have a simple meal on such a limited income.
A few young children came out with”coquitos” 🥥 and offered us some. They are tiny coconuts that they warm up on their fogón and crack them with a hammer and eat the inside. They walked us to the tree.
We were able to talk to many people from the community today. We worked along side a group of amazing strong women who lead the Milagro Association. The president of the association, Censa can single handily build two stoves in one day! They showed their old fogón which caused more air pollution, damaged their lungs, and wasn’t as efficient.
We had our final breakfast at Angostura today and hiked up to the last home in the Angostura community. We were able to see where the Angostura grown coffee is roasted and help build the top of the wood burning stove, the fogón.
First, we divided into groups and had one group begin the project and one group begin the Spanish lesson for the day. The first group, broke down the clay and carried the clay in bags to the home. Once the clay was in the home, the students created a wooden frame. The clay was poured into the frame and packed down. Once the frame was removed, the clay was smoothed out. Three holes were cut from the top. Two would be used for the burners and one would be used for the exhaust. One hole was made on the side to burn the wood for the stove.

19 June 2018

Today we went down to the city in order to talk to the local people and use the Spanish skills we have learned during the trip to learn more about the people here. It was very interesting to be in and interact with a city that is different from the ones I am used to back home. After that we went white water rafting in the mountains. The white water rafting was a new experience that was very fun for me, our raft group had four people and a guide and not only was it a fun thing to do it was another chance to speak and interact with more locals. The white water rafting was also very fun because it was a challenge and similar to being on a rolar coaster which I really like. It was also really beautiful and although it tired me out I really enjoyed it and it was something I will remember forever. -Muzala Kuwatu Many of us were a bit nervous to participate in the river rafting activity due to the rain and thunder,but we were assured that it was safe and we went. The guides made it more fun
Due to the storm, the community lost power yesterday evening and still wasn’t on this morning. I was so proud of how the students handled this. They couldn’t charge their phones, some had to take showers with flashlights in the bathroom, but they made the most of it! This morning our energizer was to make someone smile and start jumping! What a great way to start the beautiful sunny morning after the rainstorm.

18 June 2018

Journal Entry from Monday, June 17th When I think about today I think about how much fun and excitement we had hiking. On this journey we got to climb up and down to a beautiful waterfall. We also learned about the hydroelectric plant which really helped my mind expand. The hike was definitely worth it. We saw beautiful flowers and had such an amazing adventure. On the way back I got to talk to one of the Milagrosa Association girls.I really had fun learning a bit more Spanish. Once we got back from the hike I was definitely tired but I was very happy about the hike. What an adventure! -Naiomi Kelley Yesterday, our activities were cut short due to a rainstorm. We had lightening,thunder and so much rain that we weren’t able to walk to the far end of the community to build the fogan,stove.We were disappointed but made the most of it with a spirited game of bingo with our Spanish vocabulary.The rain was pounding so hard on the tin roof that our maestra Patricia had to scream the words!?
We found a salto/cascada/waterfall on the way back and stopped for a couple of photos.
The students hiked a 5k through the mountains to visit the hydroelectric plant used for the community of Angostura to bring clean water and electricity to the community.
After a night of thunderstorms we awoke to a beautiful ☀️ sunny day and we enjoyed warm milk with cereal, ham & cheese sandwiches, mango, papaya, and hot chocolate for breakfast. Our morning Spanish lesson focused on nature and the environment.

17 June 2018

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can,as much as you can. Cross the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.” -Anthony Bourdain This afternoon, we divided into three groups and each visited a different home in the community where a person demonstrated how to make a Dominican candy. Muzala, Emma,Jefe, Alicia, Bella and I visited Mercedes. She shared her recipe for Dulce de leche and two teenagers from the community, Jennifer and Jessica helped too! It was so beautiful sitting in the tiny kitchen hearing the rain pelt down on the tin roof, with the aroma of vanilla and sugar boiling on the improved wood burning stove. Listening to our girls from California, North Carolina, and the Dominican giggling over Jefe almost jumping out of his skin from the sound of thunder was one of those beautiful moments of human connection. It was truly an amazing moment we will keep in our hearts.
The gentleman who supervised our group is named Jose Hernandez. I told him this was my father and brother’s name and he said all Jose Hernandez are very intelligent!🙌🏾 We spent some time talking and sharing our life stories. It always amazes me when I meet people from other countries and really take the time to talk with them, I understand how we are really more the same than different.
Angostura, Manaboa Happy Father’s Day Jefe! Today we began the day with a light breakfast of yogurt, cereal, and fresh fruit. Mango is especially popular here in the Dominican. We met a group of high school and junior high school girls who volunteer for the association here and help EF groups throughout the summer. They led us on a good hike up the hill to plant 200 pine trees. It will take 20 years for the pines to become full grown. The kids did a phenomenal job learning to use a pointed stick to dig holes and plant the trees. Each tree was given a name and I even offered “un bendición”🙏🏽 to each one we planted in our group.

16 June 2018

The best part of today was the indoor market in Santiago because it was my first exposure to Dominican culture and it was a totally new experience. It was a really great experience especially because I got a chance to practice my Spanish skills in a real world environment because I had to barter and converse with the vendors. From that I learned that the Dominican people are friendly and open and loud in a good way and I learned how to use pesos instead of US dollars. It was also great because I made new friends from North Carolina and spent time out of my comfort zone which I think helped me grow today. -Muzala Kuwatu
We stopped for homemade 🍧 Ice cream as we drove to Angostura.
We stopped in town to stock up on a few local snacks before entering our lodge in Angostura.
We were impressed how such a simple device can positively impact the lives of many. A portion of the cost of our EF trip is donated to help organizations such as this.
We stopped for lunch at “Wine to Water”, a project EF supports that makes clay filters that bring clean water to the Dominican families. A $20 filter can provide a family of six, FIVE YEARS of clean water! Sra. Kerns is still looking for the 🍷 wine!
Our group took a quick hike up to the Santiago Monument which gave us a beautiful view of the city.
After a morning of icebreaker activities and a language lesson we walked to the market and took on our EF director Claudio’s challenge! Students had to interview a person in Spanish and find the following items: Guido Tambora carreta de lechón Muñeca sin rostro Pilón
Spanish lesson for the morning.
Desayunando en el hotel a las siete de la mañana.

15 June 2018

After dinner of pasta, chicken, steamed vegetables and rice, we divided into three groups and created team names and our personal goals for the trip. #teamgoalaso
12 year old Wildcat Domanik is really excited to make a difference in the 🌎 world. Here are his thoughts on his first day: I really liked messing around on the ✈️ I played battle ship with other passengers on the plane. It was the best plane ride I’ve had all my life. As we were landing we were flying over the water and on the clouds, I felt like it was Heaven. I am looking forward to seeing the beach and finding 🥥 coconuts. I’m looking forward to spending time with my god sister. I like our hotel and our EF director.
Our EF Tour Director Claudio met us at the air port and introduced us to our language specialist Patricia and our chauffeur Juan Martín.
Our kids are learning to complete forms on their own!
Ya 🛬 llegamos!
Our patient travelers took the hour wait like true world travelers! Finally departing! 🛫
After a four hour layover we are off to the Dominican Republic!
Domanik’s finding Pokemon.
Finding ways to occupy our 4 hour layover at the Miami airport!
Buen provecho! Desayunado con estas preciosas niñas! The Miami hospitality is amazing!

14 June 2018

Viajeros del Mundo present and accounted for! Flight departs at 10:46pm. This year we are traveling with the Hope of America recipient, Muzala Kuwatu, famous Eich Crazy 8 gamer Domanik Sanchez, his mother Theresa Novello, futbolista Naiomi Kelley from Silverado and her mother Natasha Davis, El Gran Jefe Kerns, sassy studying Azusa Social Worker Emma Kerns and La Reina Señora Kerns! 🙌🏾