Can I admit something?
Going into teaching Community English in the Dominican Republic I was so scared! I was scared that my incredibly limited Spanish would prevent the family from learning. I was scared that I would get tongue tied and not be able to teach at all. I was scared that the family would just stare at me and not understand a thing I was trying to do. Plain and simple I was SCARED!
I had never taught English before let alone in a foreign country. I knew how to ask where a bathroom was in Spanish and say kiss me. One of those phrases I had no plans of using during my time in the community.
Thankfully Fathom anticipated these fears and set up a class on the ship to help each of us prepare for our impact activity. During the class we had the opportunity to see the lesson binders, learn more about the community and talk about our fears. I came out of the class feeling better but honestly still fearful.
As I road the bus to Monterico my heart was pounding and I had to remind myself that I was doing something I needed to do. That I was pushing myself to get past my fears and just be in the moment. I was so thankful that Danielle from Extraordinary Mommy was with me and knew some Spanish.
When we arrived in Monterico, we were greeted at the community center with clapping and cheering. The smiles of the community made my fears slowly but surely dissipate. We went through a welcome activity before pairing up with our community members. Danielle and I worked together and paired up with two young women. They walked us back to their homes in town, and we met with their family and extended family. In total, we worked with 13 community members during our visit.
Remember my fears listed above? Well, they were for nothing. The family was so loving, gracious and excited for us to be there. They quite literally opened their arms and home to us and made us a part of their family. We laughed and had fun as we taught them English emotions.
The excitement on one of the grandmothers faces when she said tired and sad correctly was a moment I will never forget. Her joy shown through and it was contagious. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t speak Spanish they were just happy to welcome us and talk with us.
Photo credit – Fathom
The funny thing is through the process I ended up learning more Spanish than I could have imagined. As they were learning the English phrases for emotions, I was learning the Spanish phrases. Plus the flash cards we used had a cat showing the emotions, and you all know what a crazy cat lady I am.
By the time we were done, I learned that cat in Spanish is Gatto and had the entire family cheering SUPER GATTO! Every time we got to the super flashcard. Super Gatto is now one of my favorite phrases, and I can’t help but smile and think of this amazing family each time I say it.
This Fathom Impact activity taught me so many things and reminded me of a few others. Laughter is universal! A smile crosses all language barriers and works around the world.
When you step past your fears and open yourself up to helping others, in the end, you not only help them, but you help yourself.
Community English Conversation & Learning – $0.00
With the increased demand for bilingual speakers in the growing tourism industry in the Dominican Republic, there’s also a great need for programs that support adult English learning. Fathom travelers will be able to participate in Community English activities that help bolster employment opportunities for lower income adults. These small group programs take place within community centers and local homes and include one-on-one conversation, English instruction, food preparation, and meal sharing. Participating in these Community English programs will enable you to experience the powerful and immediate impact of your contributions.