During my volunteer service in the foundation I worked in the Montessori school “Casa de los Niños”. I mainly worked with a group of pupils at the age of 7 to 12 with dyslexia, which later changed to one-on-one work with a student. I created exercises based on my research on the internet and on materials given to me by the director, Susy. Furthermore, I helped the teachers, for example by keeping the children quiet, copying things and helping the students with the tasks. The other teachers and everyone who worked at the school were welcoming and lovely, and were always happy to help if I didn’t understand something, it was a great working environment!
In the afternoon I did workshops, sometimes with Linda, other teachers or alone. Over the year I did a Portuguese-, decoration-, Art-, Geography- and German workshop. I created my own exercises for the workshops. Because of the workshops (and also because of my main task) I had a lot of freedom to create something and choose my focus. It was a really great experience and I learned a lot.
At the end I assisted Zena and Vito by doing small tasks, I also gave swim lessons alongside three other volunteers.
I had many highlights over the year;
Mostly, it was a highlight when the students understood something and would do the task on their own. For example: at the beginning of the year, the one student was very slow in reading and would change the letters “a” and “o”, so it wouldn’t make sense what he was reading, but throughout the year he read with more attention and began to read faster. Also, in math there was a progress to be seen. In addition to this, I also saw the progress of our swim students, this made me really proud of them.
Another highlight was meeting many different people, mostly short term volunteers from all over the world. Also the coordinators came from different countries and they were friendly and welcoming. I am really glad and thankful that I had these Coordinators (Zena and Vito).
Over the year I learned a lot, not only did I gain new experiences, I was also able to learn from the people and their culture.
I was also given the opportunity to learn about the gender equality project and assisted during workshops, which were really good and I got to know/ learn about new and useful things about the culture of the Dominican Republic.
I think it would be more sustainable for the community/people if the organization would focus more on helping the community with certain projects, the Mama Elba school is a good example but also the gender equality project (in a way the other program are also helping the community). For that it would be better if the volunteer would stay longer than a month and could speak a bit of the language. I think if you are only staying a week or a month you are just getting to know the city you are living in, the culture, the people and the language and then you have to leave! To do more and better help you must stay longer to get accustomed to your surroundings, in this sense I think even one year is not enough to make a large impact!
Even though there are these things I criticized, I enjoyed my stay and learned a lot.