Clarksville Academy - Promoting Academic Excellence, Moral Integrity, Physical Growth, and Civic Responsibility

Dominican Republic, Day 3

By Danny Magrans, Spanish Teacher


“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” Frank Smith

What a day! Last night I stayed up with the students until 1:30 in the morning to see the Super Moon full eclipse. What tremendous beauty! While the experience was wonderful, I worried about how the students would react to capturing the agenda we created for them today.

We spent most of the day, Monday, discussing social and economic issues that exist in the DR along with the impact those have on the students here. It’s hard to understand how families here survive on an average salary of 400.00-600.00 dollars a month. This crisis has nothing to do with hard work. The Dominicans work hard. Very hard. In fact we met a young man who shared his work schedule and earnings with us. He works a rotation of 12 days straight with 4 days off. Each day comes with a 10 hour shift at the hotel we stayed in. After work he attends a local university and is trying hard to complete his degree in languages.

Unfortunately the young man I describe is not the norm. As a result of the financial struggles, many students have to drop out of school after their 8th grade year. Why? To work. Many parents can’t afford to send their kids to school beyond the 8th grade. In many cases it’s even younger. They simply need their kids to earn money……at a very young age.

Thank goodness for a non-profit organization called the Dream Project who is working hard to flip the norm of this culture. This organization serves the communities here by impressing the need to stay in school, increase literacy, and improve social struggles. They provide many opportunities and services from ages 3 up to 18 to build confidence and hopefully build a lifetime of security. More importantly they help break the chains of poverty that exist …. one student at a time. Just ask the young man from the hotel who is a product of the Dream Project.

So what did my students do today? They listened. They interpreted because every lesson was presented in Spanish. They responded in the target language. While speaking in the target language was difficult for some, let me remind you that this conversation wasn’t about social fluency. It was about making a difference in the lives less fortunate. Pretty advance topic. They understood the majority of the lessons and most were able to apply responses in Spanish. I am a proud teacher.

We also began to think about ways we could help. It doesn’t have to be in some exotic island. It could easily be done at home. What matters most is that we gain confidence in our ability to help humanity. We must also trust that “the most noble thing a human can do is sacrifice for others.” Wow, do we have a lot to think about! Even more to do.

Tonight we had one of the most incredible meals in one of the most incredible settings. A tree house. Let me explain.

After many years of conviction and wonder a man with a vision built an organic farm. He wanted to build a house to teach the world that one doesn’t have to destroy the earth to do it. He wanted to build an organic farm with many different species of trees to teach the world around us how to use the resources we’ve been given to heal and live better lifestyles. He welcomed us in his home and cooked us a delicious meal. More importantly he challenged us to live our dreams and make a difference along the way.

It hit me after bed check tonight that our students have tremendous opportunities to make a difference in the corridor they’ve been given and the doors they will be able to open by learning a second language. Whether it be reaching the lives of those less fortunate or changing the manner in which medicine is produced, I have no doubt that our students will have an impact. Learning a second language, can reach so many other people. I firmly believe “it give a person another soul.”