For most, Spring Break is a time to relax and recharge but for this Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School, it was a time to give back. Julie DeRuiter, a physical education teacher at the middle school, led a church youth group to the Dominican Republic to aid the community.
“It was awesome to pour into the lives of the Dominican people! We had 32 people total, 8 leaders and 24 high school students from our church youth group. The purpose of our trip was to share the Gospel, build relationships, and help out in the community. In the Dominican, we stayed at Caribbean Mountain academy, which is a therapeutic school for American students. We lodged there, spending our time with the CMA students having game nights, hiking up mountains, jumping off waterfalls, and building relationships,” said DeRuiter.
The group wasn’t just immersing themselves in a new culture, they spent their days rebuilding things at the school and teaching the students how to communicate in English.
“We did repairs, along with preparing the grounds for future groups to do work as well. Along with moving walls, building basketball courts, and tearing down old steel playgrounds out of the concrete, our time was spent building relationships with Dominican students ages k-8 during their recess and PE classes. Our students didn’t let the language barrier stop them from loving and caring for the students at the school. We were asked to speak in their English classes, which was an awesome experience as well. My favorite part of the trip was how hard working, motivated, and genuine our students were,” she said.
Julie is eager to take another trip back to the Dominican and see how the school progresses in the future.