15 March 2010, Monday

DR flag at the school.

Hola,

Today was the first day of our school visit … whew!
We arrived at the school in Sabana Perdida, after a 7:30 am pick up at the hotel by Jeremy, our taxi driver. Jeremy does not speak English and you know how well I speak Spanish. If only everyone were Deaf, or could communicate in a signed language, how easier communication would be. But, today is the first time Jeremy and I were able to communicate “well” despite the communication barrier. He knew he was taking us into a bad area, one of the poorest in the Santo Domingo area, and he was a bit concerned for himself and for us. We were able to witness the mass chaos of morning rush hour traffic .. so glad I do not have to do this day in and day out … YIKES! I cannot even begin to tell you what the traffic is like but I can tell you that I had some white knuckles moments a few times. Jeremy kept assuring us that it was ‘no problemo’. He, also, warned us to be careful if we wander outside the gates of the school due to the area of town.

Traffic on the way to Sabana Perdida

I have to tell you … the school is wonderful! I was here two years ago and we went to two different school sites in the Sabana Perdida area. One of the sites was quite questionable while the other one was not so bad. However, the school is now housed in an older building facility that has been completely renovated through government funds and the remodeling has been awesome! The children have a great facility in which to learn but I am afraid they will grow out of it quickly. The area used for play time is very limited.

After arriving and engaging in proper introductions, we began the tour of the school with Paulina, the Head Mistress, and Maria, an angel, Paulina’s assistant. We visited the classes and introduced ourselves to the students, class by class. We began our instruction time with the upper grades, 15 – 18 year olds. The lesson went well and the students enjoyed themselves. Quite a few of the students can put language to their experiences and were able to discuss the experiences they have had with hurricanes, flooding, and earthquakes. Amazingly, one of the students is from Haiti and she had the experience of being in Haiti during the horrible earthquake this past January. She personally rescued several younger children from the rubble and is now in the Dominican Republic at the Sabana Perdida school. In general, the lives these students have experienced at such an early age can be heart-wrenching.

I was using my computer and the LCD to present information but the electricity went out on us around 10 am! Apparently, this is a common occurrence in the country, to lose the electricity/power during most of the day. Luckily, we did not depend on the electricity for our lessons. The power eventually returned after 2:30 pm. I know I could not teach like this every day, that is for sure. Another situation arose today, as well. Apparently water is delivered once a week to the school, Thursdays. Since it is the beginning of the week, water should not be an issue but it has now become an issue. The school ran out of water today and has to wait until Thursday for the next water deliver .. what is this? WOW! Goes to show you how much we become accoustumed to our living situations back home and how individuals in developing countries have to function. Though the utilities were a bit of a downer, we did not let it interfere with our goal of providing a lesson for the students.

Playing Duck/Duck/Goose

We paid the school to provide us lunch for the two days and we had a rather tasty lunch at that. We were able to meet several interesting individuals who are involved in the school peripherally during lunch. We had a very nice visit. After lunch, the temperature and humidity began to soar and our physical energy was waning. We had to teach one more class for the day .. and we did so, but the McDaniel students were really losing steam. The end of the day came and we could not wait to get an ice-cold bottle of water for the trip back to the hotel as Pastor Hector came to drive us back to our home away from home.

On the return trip, Hector made a quick stop the Missionary House that is now in operation. It is a nice house and can accommodate several individuals. The rent offsets the cost of the mission and provides some great company for a Deaf couple who live next door and Hector and Belkis who live a few houses down the street. I did seem to get the impression from Hector that I should use this facility for future use if I continue to return to the Dominican Republic but there is no sense in making that call now for I am not in the market, or need, for housing right now.

The students collapsed in the air-conditioned hotel and I went for a quick dip … we needed to cool off quickly for the day was long and hot. Tomorrow will bring another day and we are curious as to what the day will be like.

Students at the school.

I do know that it will be our last day at the Sabana Perdida school as we look forward to a day off come Wednesday. Actually, the girls are looking forward to a day at the beach though they are already receiving some of the sun rays bestowed upon this country.

Too tired to expand more  and I have some work to do for tomorrow.

Adios,

Mark

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