18 March 2011 … Last Day to do some R&R

Hola todos,

Ya esta el Viernes?? De todos modos, tanto como yo no quiero admitirlo, hoy es desafortunadamente nuestro último día en la querida Republica Dominica. ☹ Well, if you didn’t understand this exclamatory phrase in Spanish then you clearly didn’t learn enough in the DR! ☺
(English translation: Hello all, it’s Friday already? As much as I don’t want to admit it, today is unfortunately our last day in la querida Republica Dominica.) 😦 Time sure did FLY like lightning! It seems like yesterday when we arrived.

Today was kind of supposed to be the highlight of our day: We were hoping to rent a sailboat today. However, much to our disappointment, we learned the captain of the boat was out of town for a regatta and the boat was not available. Thus, some of us seized the opportunity to run last minute shopping sprees and/or hit the hotel pool for our last chance to toast our pasty bodies from Snowmaggedon paleness to a slight tan.

After a long, exhausting week at 2 Deaf schools (Sabana Perdida and the National School) busily educating acutely curious kids about pirates, Peter Pan, and deaf culture, we were able to have a relaxing, soothing day – which was what we needed before returning to the states. We came to the DR excited and still apprehensive as to what the week will hold. The sunny weather was wonderful, the food great, the people we met have been very warm and open, and the interaction with the students has been tremendous. As we spent our last day in the capital, we were able to relax and reflect on our experience while lounging around the pool. Ahhhhh!

As for Mark, well, he took to the highway and traveled with Hector and Belkis, heading east to the city of Hato Mayor and El Seibo.

The Assemblies of God organization has established a school for the deaf in this city that is about 95 minutes northeast of the capital. The lead teacher is hearing, as are all teachers in this country, and her name is Dana.

Belkis and Dana pose in Hato Mayor.

She has done a marvelous job of educating the children in her school. She is one of three teachers. She is not only responsible to the students for learning, but she is also the lead curriculum planner, and trainer of the two teachers she has hired, as well as providing sign language instruction for the these two teachers. Last year, Mark was able to make a quick visit and this year, he returned to see that she now has a larger place for instruction and loves her new environment.

Dana's new school.

She was a bit disappointed that the group did not make a visit out her way so it may be possible to arrange a visit for next year.

Vivian, who lives in El Seibo, worked with Dana for the last two years. She is now in El Seibo attempting to establish a Deaf center where she can teach sign language to the locals. If she can get some adults to be signers, then she can get them into the schools, hopefully, to provide signing aids to the few deaf students in the public school. She may even be able to have these individuals proficient enough to begin teaching in El Seibo or in Hato Mayor to assist Dana.

Vivian has noticed that the ten or so students in the El Seibo school system have been there for two years and the students still do not know their name or basic labels to colors and numbers. She has convinced the school system to send the ten students to her center for a two week sign language camp where she will attempt to give as much visual information as she can. Mark gave all the extra materials related to Peter Pan and pirates (pirata) to Vivian to use for her center. She much appreciated the materials.

Materials left for Vivian.

Kelly, Belkis, and Hector.

Reluctantly, we all gathered in the hotel lobby at 7:15pm for our farewell dinner at a local restaurant/hotel, Hotel El Senorial. Mark loves this place for its reasonable priced food and well-lit environment for dinner conversation.

Tommy Guzman and his wife, Fahira.

We invited Tomas and Hector and their señoritas for dinner as well as Juana and her husband, Eric.

Juana, our interpreter, and Eric.

Hector’s neighbor, and immigrant from Russia, Svelta, joined us as well. Since we had lunch with her husband last Sunday, we were able to have Svelta join us this night.

Svelta

A dinner party of 15 was a great way to end the week.

Our last meal and the McDaniel banner.

We had a variety of interesting conversations and, afterward, a few of us went to the casino, some to the Colonial Zone for our last night of celebration, and some to the hotel to watch the March Madness.

Martha, Emma, Becky, and Katie engaged in conversation.


We now prepare for donning our winter coats and tending to our sunburned skin into glistening tans so other may gloat! I am sure we all can agree that this trip has definitely been worthwhile for us and quite a remarkable experience! Our Jan Term/Spring break totally inspired us to be able to educate, empower, and enthrall Dominican deaf children into being something they never dreamed of being.

The whole gang after dinner bidding each other 'adios'.


Adios,
Jillian Donnelly
Graduate Deaf Education Candidate

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