Although it has been a couple of months since our return from the rural village of El Llano, it seems like just yesterday we were riding
down to the city via guagua to gather materials for the bakery business. Reflecting upon our project, we can really see the progress made.
To help the community, we focused our efforts on two different projects, the computer literacy
classes and the bakery business.
Before our arrival, the bakery business was merely an idea shared by some of the young women in the village. None of the girls knew how to bake, let alone carry out a successful small business. Through our business coaching and with a couple of baking lessons, Sabrozzi took off. They catered for the preschool graduation, and after we left, for the student center’s summer class lunches.
We also taught computer literacy classes and focused on teaching our students the uses of Microsoft Office including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. In their final assignment, our students were able to apply their skills by constructing a professional resume. The computer literacy classes also aided the bakery business. They are now able to calculate their budget and profits through the use of spreadsheets.
We have kept in touch with some of the bakery’s members. Despite a decrease in its employees, Sabrozzi is still going strong. The people who really want to make the business successful are doing so and carrying out their vision.
As they say in a song that became our Domincan Anthem, “Yo no se ingles pero te digo bye”
Jackie and Alexis
Our Dominican adventure is coming to a close and I could not be prouder of our group and what we have accomplished since we have been here. This week we finished our computer course with the advanced class which included Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Their final projects, featuring elements of all these programs, our almost complete and this Friday we will have a little graduation party for them which is really exciting. The beginners just finished making their professional resumes and learned PowerPoint. Some of them even gave their first presentations. It was really awesome to see our students put what they have learned to use. Our team has also finished making a 50 page complete Microsoft Office Tutorial in Spanish which we intend to leave to our students and a Mother’s Wish Foundation so that they can continue to teach others computer literacy once we are gone. It is also our hope that this book can be used on future Nourish projects as a guide to teaching computer literacy in the third world.
What’s more, we have almost completely finished our business training. The managers are now trained in Microsoft Excel for business use and things in the kitchen are running very smoothly. This past weekend, Sabrozzi sold many of their baked goods to local colmados in the area. This Monday they came to the center and were baking away for the many orders they received over the Mother’s day weekend! It’s truly inspiring to see the members of the business take such an initiative and gain recognition for it throughout their local community. We also recently went on our final shopping venture for the bakery. We purchased a fridge, baking equipment, baking pans, and enough ingredients to make many recipes. So, with a fully stocked kitchen and newly trained managers/kitchen staff our team has done everything we can to set Sabrozzi up for success.
While the members of Sabrozzi were out marketing their products, our Nourish team decided to embark on a cross country adventure across the island. We left early Friday morning and spent the day in the nation’s capital, Santo Domingo. While we were there we visited the very first Catholic Church in the Western Hemisphere. It was the most breath taking church I have ever been in. The history and architectural detail was truly breath taking. What made it even cooler is that Christopher Columbus’ body was buried right underneath! We also visited the national palace, the seed of the Dominican government and saw remnants of the old fort right on the beach. We had a little taste America at the Hard Rock Café and enjoyed a walk through the city’s colonial center. The next morning we awoke to journey to the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in my life in Punta Cana, located in the horn of the island. The water was truly breath taking, and the culture completely different from any other part of the island. It was truly awesome experience I’m sure no one in our group will forget.
As our last week here comes to an end, we are just finishing up some final training with the business and celebrating the end of a very successful trip to the Dominican Republic. Until next post, Hasta Luego!
It is coming to the end of Week 1, and we are excited to be here and integrate into Dominican life!
We arrived on Tuesday at the Santiago airport, and were picked up by Allie, our 3MM coordinator and correspondent. She took us to the hotel that we are staying at, and we’ve been learning about the Dominican Republic and what we’ll be doing here ever since.
We are staying in the town of Cabarete, a beautiful beach town renown for its kite surfing. There is a large tourist population here, but there are also many Dominicans and local hotspots that allow us to experience authentic Dominican life. The currency is in pesos, and we are completely amazed (and thrilled) that everything – food, entertainment, transportation – is incredibly cheap. A meal of chicken, rice, beans, and salad costs less than $4! We mainly eat at our hotel, but we have gone out several times and love tasting the cuisine here. (Mmmm…fried plantains!)
On Wednesday Allie showed us 3 Mariposas Montessori, the school we are working with. We met with Sarah, the founder of 3MM, and both have been incredible in describing to us how the school was created and what vision they have for these children. They are an incredible asset to the area, and are so inspirational! Not everyone can move to the Dominican Republic, build a school, and one by one give a child something priceless – a good education.
Allie also gave us a tour of La Cienaga, the impoverished community surrounding the school where most of the children come from. Many of the houses are single bedroom homes made of wood and tin, and very few have working electricity. And yet, there is a kind and cheerful spirit in the area, where kids play on the dirt and neighbors gather for a chat.
We met the children of the school after both of these tours, and they are a lively, fun bunch. And so cute! At first they were shy to us and nervous about meeting more foreigners, but they are beginning to adjust and now greet us with a squeal and a plead to “piggy back ride”. We also eat our lunches with families that live in La Cienaga, so the kids get to see us both at the school and in their home setting. We are greatly appreciative of the good food and the company that these families and kids give us, and they have welcomed us with open arms.
Along with us there are four French interns our age working at 3MM doing media and communication promotions, and we have befriended them and basically become a group of 10. They are all really nice and it is great because not only is our Spanish improving, but so is our French! We constantly joke that when we come back to the USA, we’ll be able to speak everything BUT English.
Our week has been great, and the only challenges that we’ve had are minor. The language barrier was difficult at first, but slowly we are improving and communicating better. We are also getting ATTACKED by mosquitoes – everyone is so itchy, but it’s a small price to pay for how beautiful everything is here.
Following our week at the school, we had our first excursion yesterday where we learned to surf! Everyone did a great job, and got up several times on the board. We all agreed that surfing is really fun yet really tiring – for every 30 seconds you spend riding the wave, there are 20 minutes of getting out and trying to catch the wave. We all want to go back and try again, to hone our skills!
Overall, we are really thankful for all of our experiences so far, and we are getting excited to start working on our main project of the trip tomorrow – building the school store! Until next week!
The DR Nourish Project Team
P.S. Weeeeeeeeeeesh!! (A little phrase picked up from our French friends).
We have been here only for two and a half weeks and we already have done so much! This week we not only started but finished our classes on Microsoft Word. Initially we were concerned about how long it would take for the students to learn these skills considering some were not even familiar with keys on the keyboard. To our surprise, most caught on to the basics like formatting font relatively quickly. To finish off the class we had our students work on their final project which consisted of creating a professional resume. It was truly exciting to see students implement the very skills that you taught them in their own projects.
This past weekend was full of accomplishments for everyone. A Mother’s Wish has a preschool for 3 and 4 year old’s and their graduation was this past Saturday. To commemorate their achievement I embarked on a project of my own designing a mural for the graduates of this year and those to come. This mural of a “unity tree”,while it’s still a work in progress, was revealed at the graduation. The students got to put up leaves with their names on them to symbolically represent the growth of the Lynn Barta Academy community. In other news, the group from the bakery was given the opportunity to cater this event and supplied the graduates and their families with a cup of natural fruit juice and an assortment of pastries. They sold out and even had orders put in for banana bread and cookies. Seeing as mother’s day is coming up here in the Dominican Republic we thought it would be a great idea for the bakery to make a special mother’s day sale in the community.
After the graduation, our Nourish team decided to take a bit of a break through a weekend excursion. We traveled to the beautiful beach of Sosua via guagua (a small and crowded kind of bus) and immersed ourselves in sun and waves. It was a nice way to relax and de-stress so we can return and continue working the way we do.
Until next post!
The BU students on the Nourish Team are excited about leaving next Tuesday. We are all starting to get our suitcases together as well as purchasing some last minute supplies for the trip. After all of our preparation, we are looking forward to the departure day and cannot wait to finally get to see where we will be living for the next six weeks.
We have been in the Dominican Republic for about a week now and there are already so many stories to tell and so much work we have started! Our first night here we stayed in a beautiful house in the mountains. You wouldn’t even realize you left home unless you looked outside and saw that you were actually in the middle of nowhere starring blindly at the mountain tops. It wasn’t until the next day that our real third world experience would begin.
The next afternoon we were introduced to El Llano, the small, rural village in the mountain tops where we would spending the majority of our time for the next six weeks. The people of this small, but proud village are extremely humble and don’t have much to offer, but give whatever they can. We were later greeted by our host families in the homes we would be living in for our time here in the Dominican Republic. Jackie and I were greeted at the door of a small wooden house with hot food on the stove by a women named Mercedes. She proudly exclaimed that her house was our house and that she would be our new Dominican mother. Even without our first world conveniences, we have never felt unwelcome in Mercedes’ home which is something Jackie and I are truly grateful for. However, we soon realized that that the real challenges would present themselves the next day when our work with the people of El Llano began.
Our work here consists of two main parts: successfully start a bakery with the women of the community and teach computer literacy skills to all the young people as well as how to operate Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for professional use. On the side we help teach English classes and assist with whatever pre-school activities Rita and Diego (the coordinators of a Mother’s Wish Foundation) need help with. At first we had no idea what to expect from any of the activities, however the challenges we will face presented themselves almost instantly. While extremely motivated to open a bakery, the women of EL Llano have never baked a day in their lives. To make matters even more difficult, none of them have any knowledge of or how to calculate, revenue, profit, and overhead costs. While this may seem discouraging, the five of us are extremely dedicated to properly training everyone involved with the bakery and hopefully we will be able to reach our goal of starting production by week three. The computer classes came with their own set of unique challenges, the main one being that everybody we are attempting to teach are on completely different levels. Some students know how to type and operate the basic functions of Microsoft word, while others did not even know how to use the space bar of a keyboard. We have attempted to solve this problem by splitting the classes up into three levels (advanced, intermediate, and beginner) and assigning different lessons for each level. Hopefully all goes well next week.
Finally, our trip hasn’t been all work and no play. We have had some rather interesting experiences on our Dominican adventure. Alcohol is really big in this country, and when I say big I mean it. There has not been not one recreational event that we have been to where Presidente (the national beer) and Brugal (the national rum) have not been readily available. Cock fighting, baseball games, and parties featuring local tipico music are just a sample of the various activities we have taken part in. On Saturday night we decided to take a night off and go to a party in the woods. We had such a good time dancing to the local music. It was a really good way for us to bond as a team.
Anyways, I’m sure we will have plenty more stories to tell next week. I have uploaded a few photos of Mercedes’ house and the computer classes! Until next week, hasta luego!
Just think: at this same time tomorrow my friends and I will be merely minutes from reaching our destination airport of Santiago, Dominican Republic and starting our adventure.
At the thought of this, my mind flashes back to all the progress we, as a group, have made at UF. This is the project that our Nourish Chapter has been working all year for. Venture after venture, we have fund raised. We have stood in the hot sun raffling off Ultra Tickets, walked all over campus putting up flyers for the valentine’s day carnation sale and now, finally, we are going to see our funds at action.
Initially, our chapter was unsure if we were going to have enough people to go on our project. We have a small chapter and an even smaller amount of people that can go on the trip. So it was surprising to find out that not only did we get enough people to go, we even have a person joining us from another school! Alexis, Carlos, Billy, Jordan and I are all attending this project and are going to have to work together to get things done. Lesson plans have to be made. Activities have to be planned. For some of us, Spanish must be learned. There is a lot to do in 6 weeks but I’m confident that we will manage.
Until next post!