Bay Ridge

Fontbonne students take dream trip to Dominican Republic

June 29, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Fontbonne students Lauren O'Keefe and Kaylin O'Malley help paint trash cans in the Dominican Republic to bring awareness to the importance of proper garbage disposal. Photo courtesy of Fontbonne Hall Academy
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Students took a special trip from Bay Ridge down to the Caribbean but they didn’t go on the journey to just enjoy the beautiful beaches.

A few weeks before the school year ended, 10 juniors from Fontbonne Hall Academy in Bay Ridge traveled to the Dominican Republic as part of the ACIS Young Women’s Leadership Program. Accompanied by Principal Mary Ann Spicijaric and teacher Fran Fuerst, the students spent a week participating in leadership workshops and service projects.  

The students who took part in the trip were Caroline Dolan, Kaylene Ris, Kirsa Danis, Jailene Gonzalez, Lauren O’Keefe, Kaylin O’Malley, Olivia Aneiro, Kristina Zloklikovits, Lindsay DeBoer and Sophia Mahaney.

In Sousa, the students worked with the Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring Project (DREAM), a program that brings volunteers from all over the world to work together to help improve the lives of more than 6,000 children a year. The students also worked with Health Horizons International (HHI), an organization that seeks to provide quality health care to patients.

The students visited Santo Domingo, where they participated in a leadership workshop with the organization Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas (MUDHA). MUDHA’s mission involves efforts to improve living conditions for women and children. During this part of the trip, the students exchanged ideas with local residents and helped them make necklaces.

Making jewelry is a source of income for many families.

The Fontbonne students learned about complex issues in the Dominican Republic, like sanitation problems. But they also worked on promoting solutions such as painting trash cans to remind people to use them. They watched how residents in the poorest villages had a strong sense of community and looked out for each other’s children.

Spicijaric said she was excited to have her students be part of the program and added that she hoped it would spark in them interest in service and travel abroad. “Service is an important part of what we do at Fontbonne,” she said.

While the weather was hot during the trip, it did not put a damper on their enthusiasm, according to school officials, who said the personalities of the girls in the group made for a successful trip. The students enjoyed learning about the country’s culture and appreciated the natural surroundings.

One bonus was that the students had the chance to improve their Spanish-speaking skills.

The girls also enjoyed waterfall-jumping in Damajagua.


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