For seven days of their spring break, 22 Tabor students and three faculty members headed to the Dominican Republic to work with the Mariposa Foundation, whose mission is to inspire young girls and end poverty. Led by Anny Candelario, a Tabor faculty member and alum (’97), the students raised money throughout the year for their travel, excited to have an opportunity to help less fortunate people.
Although this trip was only seven days long, it consisted of a variety of service activities including teaching sports and health education as well as youth leadership skills to the young girls. Tabor students also helped with on-site construction, which included building a storage house and plastering a 3-foot by 90-foot concrete wall that functions as a base for a bamboo fence that would provide security and privacy to the foundation. The students helped to decorate the school with a variety of crafts and drew a butterfly-shaped scoreboard for Mariposa’s softball games. Tabor students also read to the girls, gardened, and taught dance, computer, and ESL classes.
While the trip was very successful, the Tabor students and faculty faced challenges with the work that they did. The construction tools were explained in Spanish, which was tough to understand, and the work was all done in extreme heat for an extended period of time. Harry Schultz, a sophomore who went on this trip, found the hard work to be extremely rewarding and plans to continue participating in similar programs. “It is very satisfying to know that you are helping someone else,” Schultz says of his experience.
Another challenge was the language barrier between the girls and the Tabor students. While daunting at first, this barrier seemed to become irrelevant as the trip went on and the bonds between the girls and high school students strengthened. Bex Czajkowski, a Tabor senior, saw this transition in full effect. “The best part of the trip was getting to see the language and culture barrier break down between us and almost everyone we met. Nothing stood in the way of working together to finish the construction project or a competitive game of softball,” Bex says of the effective bond that they developed.
After full days of service and hard work, the group of Tabor students spent time reflecting on their days and the influence that the service had on the Mariposa girls and themselves. Since they have returned from an area struck with poverty, many of the students have a new appreciation for their homes and opportunities. Tabor senior Max Rose has acquired a better understanding for the global perspective of poverty. ”Before this trip I never had a holistic grasp on poverty outside of the United States and always felt those people had the same basic life resources that we have here,” Rose says of his epiphany. He sees that global poverty, rather than just poverty in the United States, is something that must be fought.
This trip has been rewarding for the students and faculty who participated and has undoubtedly influenced the young girls in the Dominican Republic in a positive way.
By Julia O’Rourke