Volunteering, salsa dancing, and cliff jumping


Ella Gage, News Editor

It’s crazy to think of how little Americans are actually aware of, living in the states. There’s only so much one can learn about geography and culture as a student, even in AP programs. There’s a saying: “traveling is the best education.” Subjective. But in the case of the student trip to the Dominican Republic, the girls who went on the trip unanimously agree that this was true.
The student trip to the Dominican Republic in July covered everything from off-trail hiking in the rainforest to visiting preschools in slums to jumping off of waterfalls. Ten Liberty girls and social studies teacher Andrea Antrim started their summers in the Caribbean on an educational leadership trip in the Dominican Republic through the ACIS youth travel program.
The girls divided the eight days of the trip between three Dominican cities: Santiago, Sosua, and Santo Domingo. They worked with and learned about five different organizations. There was a wide range of purposes for these organizations, including environmental sustainability, community outreach, health awareness, and improving the living conditions.
The trip followed a packed daily itinerary, typically including volunteering and educational tours in the morning and early afternoon. The late afternoons were dedicated to tourism and visits to waterfalls, caves, rivers, beaches as well as exploring the downtown.
“The most adventurous thing we did had to be either jumping off of the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua, or going on a river cruise back to the tour bus in the middle of a storm,” senior Jasmine Le said. About halfway through the trip, the girls ended up on in a storm on a small wooden boat in the dark in the middle of the Yasica river. And that’s only one of many, many stories.
The trip not only included leadership, education, and volunteering. There were also days when the girls did things like exploring local beaches at Sosua, going to bonfire dinners on the Yasica River, visiting the Pomier Caves Anthropological Reserve, competing in an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt across miles of the capital city, Santo Domingo, and swimming in subterranean caverns below the Caves of Bumba national park.
For the second part of the trip, the girls had the opportunity to explore Santo Domingo’s colonial and tourist zone on their own time in the evenings.
“My favorite thing we did was exploring the city’s colonial zone in our free time. I liked the unstructured time when we walked around the city in groups,” junior Kaitlyn Keyes said.
There was a pedestrian tourist strip through the middle of the colonial zone, where the girls spent most of their free time. The main strip had vendors along the sides of buildings, selling everything from bracelets and acrylic paintings to traditional Dominican food. At night, the strip would become even busier, with music, live bands, and dance floors in Spanish ruins. Not only was the tour educational, but it was very safe.
“ACIS did a great job keeping us safe the whole time. The tour guide and bus driver, Rebeckah and Fernando, were absolutely amazing.. The entire trip was definitely a highlight,” Le said.
Antrim will be leading another ACIS student trip in 2 years, most likely to a country in East Asia, South America, or the Pacific Islands.