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The Dominican Experience 2014

This year's Dominican Experience took place in San Pedro de Macoris from March 14 -21 and included sixty-nine Secondary-Four students, nine teachers, six priests, three parents and three alumni.

"Dominican visit an eye-opener for Montreal high school students." Montreal Gazette, April 5, 2014

David Thomas' video of the "Dominican Experience, 2014"

Jacob Marquis' video from 2013

The "Dominican Experience" is a cultural-immersion trip that consists of living with local families, touring neighbourhoods of various economic conditions, and spending time on sugar and cocoa plantations.  By putting their first-world lifestyles aside for a week, participants learned to develop a greater sense of community and spiritual wealth.  The Dominican organizers allowed participants to give back in small ways throughout the week by building or renovating homes and providing a beach day for the "batey" children.  At the end of each day, the students were given spiritual context through daily masses and group reflections.

A student's reflections

"While packing for a mysterious journey to the Dominican Republic, I knew that this trip was not going to be a regular vacation to a nice resort. I had no idea what to expect and was feeling a mixture of anxiety and stress. I was not worried about which clothes to pack or which shoes to bring. I was worried about the people and the condition of the places I was going to visit.

During the trip, our host families made us feel at home as we worked hard to help out in their community. However, most of the comfort I felt during the week was because of the reflections we had together. They reminded me that we are were all feeling the same guilt and that we must not forget what we experienced during this trip. 

However what I found amazing about this experience is that we do have four things in common: love, religion, family and music. I have traveled Europe, the Caribbean and South America and wherever we go there always seems to be catholic church to attend mass on Sunday. I witnessed this in the Dominican too and I believe that although these families have few material goods, their faith carries them through the hard times in life."  ~ Liam Yeldon

A parent's account

"On the way back home from the airport we asked him what was his favorite day, expecting he would say the beach day. Yet he responded that his favorite day was when they spent the day with the Haitians in the area where they lived. He could not believe the living conditions, he called it the Batailles?. We responded that we were surprised he would choose that as his favorite day. He then clarified that it was his favorite as it was his most meaningful and the one he would always remember. With that comment we knew that this experience had helped him take a huge step towards adulthood and an adult that would be compassionate and eager to come to the aid of those in need. For this we will be forever thankful."   ~ Christine and Mark Serre (Joshua's parents)