Feature Photo: Space Ritual/ Photo Above: Kitt R

As a teacher, I am always interested in learning about the educational system in other countries and how they are different than the United States. On a recent visit to the Dominican Republic, I didn’t have the opportunity to look into it while I was there, but was connected with someone after I got back that introduced me to an amazing project going on in Colonia Nueva community of the DR, located on the North Coast.

According to the Director of the DREAM Project (Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring Project), Catherine Delaura, the project provides “quality educational opportunities to Dominican youth,” which is something that is important for all children.  The main programs in the project are preschools using the Montessori method, programs for at-risk youth, after school programs, and summer camps, serving children from 3-18 years old.  Anyone living the Colonia Nueva community can participate, and they also work with two local public schools to invite at-risk youth to participate in the program.

I connected with Catherine to find out more about the project.

Why is there a need for the DREAM Project in the DR?

Catherine: Generally in rural areas of the DR, the public schools are so over-burdened with large quantities of students and a lack of materials and funds, that they cannot properly educate everyone.  We work with the local community and public schools to offer additional enrichment in literacy and extra-curricular activities so our young people can have satisfying lives and choices in their future.

Who runs it?  If you have volunteers, where are they from?

Catherine:  The Montessori Program is fully Dominican-run.  We are training our local teachers in an AMS training course in Santo Domingo, so they will be American Montessori Certified.  The youth programs are generally run by American long-term volunteers, as well as local part-time volunteers who are both foreign and Dominican.

How can people help from home?

Catherine: People can help by bringing school supplies when they visit, or hosting fundraisers that lead to monetary donations (we are a 501(c)3 in the states, so all donations are tax deductible). We have a PowerPoint if someone wants to introduce the project to their community and do a small fundraiser.  We also use student trips from the US as a way to get volunteers here to do service learning projects in our schools. So one way people can help is to introduce our project to their school or Spanish departments that may be interested in sending a group down here.

If you are headed to that area and would like to volunteer, visit the DREAM Project website or email info@dominicandream.org for more information!

Community Connection:

Looking for other opportunities to volunteer?  Check out Matador’s Volunteering Abroad focus page for some great resources!