The opportunity presented itself last semester when I learned about an Alternative Spring Break program that is available at my college. The program would take place abroad, in Dominica, and would only be for the duration of spring break. I thought this would be perfect for me, since it provided the opportunity to travel abroad and it would not be for an extended time. Not only did the program provide these things, but the main reason for it was a service experience. During this week the group would be volunteering at a school for children with special needs. I have been involved with community service for several years now and this opportunity for a service-learning experience was something that I really wanted to do.
My time in Dominica was definitely something that I will not forget. This experience was not like anything else I have ever experienced. I was able to experience a new place and a new culture different from my own. I have worked with kids several times, as part of mentorship programs and summer camps, but up until last week, I had never worked with kids with learning disabilities. I, along with the other two people in the classroom that I was assigned to, was able to give the students closer attention than they usually got. We worked on counting, days of the week, and different movement activities. As part of our work there, the group was about to lead activities that the school did not have on a regular basis. We planned various arts and crafts, along with several movement songs, and some games.
Along with the service part of the trip, we also had time to explore and enjoy the island country. Dominica is so beautiful, containing lots of green and water. I was able to hike in many different areas and as a group we went to beaches, a fresh water pool, a gorge, and hot water springs. All of our meals consisted of fresh fruits and vegetables that were very delicious. I was exposed to new types of lunch foods, my favorite being potato and corn empanadas, and egg and mustard sandwiches.
My experience overall was something that I want to tell people about, especially students who will be attending college soon or are in college. I would definitely recommend anyone to take advantage of study abroad and programs like the one I participated in. These opportunities are readily available in college and might not be something you will have the chance the do after college. Travelling allows you to learn about different people and cultures, helping to expand your perspective on things.