Ivy Leaf - Spring 2003

Spring Break: Dominican Mission Trip


While many Penn State students were busy making plans to hit the beach or travel with friends during Spring Break this past semester, a group of Penn State Altoona students and faculty used the week to help those in need in the Dominican Republic. Twenty-five students and four faculty chaperones spent a week at the Hope of the Child Orphanage in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic. They helped with various building and renovation projects and worked with the children, who ranged in age from 4 to 18, to teach them art projects, reading, English, phonics, and recreational activities. Each student and chaperone also took two suitcases of items to donate to the orphanage, such as non-perishable food items, clothing, and recreational activities. In addition to making an impact on the lives of the children while they were there, this spring break trip also made quite an impression on the Penn State Altoona students who were there.

"When you go on vacation, you tend to see everything that's nice about a foreign country, but when we went, we saw the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich, and got to experience so much culture," said elementary education major Erin Donohue. "I know we made such a difference in their lives, and I'm almost jealous of them because their lives are so simple – and even though they are extremely poor, they are so happy."

"Taking this trip was one of the best things I've ever done, and being able to talk to the kids was so rewarding," said secondary Spanish education major Molly Loucks. "I went there thinking that I knew what poverty was, but I had no idea. I was so humbled the entire week. And now that I'm back here, I'm just so thankful and so grateful for what I have."

This year marked the third annual alternative spring break trip that Penn State Altoona students and faculty have taken to the Dominican Republic.