“Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations. ”
– Earl Nightingale
This January I will be a part of a team that will build an elementary school in Rio Grande, a small community in Constanza in the Dominican Republic. The team of volunteers will consist of superintendents, principals, educators, PTA members and others who all share a passion for serving children and families. This memory mission trip is sponsored by LifeTouch and supported by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). I am proud to be one of the superintendents representing the AASA on this mission!
As part of the process of participating in the mission, there are some volunteer questions which I was asked and answered and I want to share via the blog as an amplification as to the purpose of this upcoming leadership and life experience for me.
Question: Why did you volunteer for the Lifetouch Memory Mission?
Response: I view education as a calling and as a call to service. I have been blessed with guidance, mentorship, coaching, and opportunities from others, and I want to pay it forward and serve globally. Over the course of my career (23 years in public education so far) I have worked with students from various nationalities, economic stations, religions, and perspectives. I believe, and I know from experiences, that spending meaningful time in another country serving a local community will improve my life and my service. My aim is to also show via modeling for my own children and family and for the folks in the community where I serve that I am willing to “walk the walk” in multiple venues and situations.
Question: What do you hope to learn from the experience of building this school, interacting with the residents of Constanza and working as a team with your fellow Memory Mission volunteers?
Response: I expect a truly life changing experience in terms of culture, language, building, caring, and doing. I am hoping to see the world through the lens of the people of Constanza and through that lens better clarify my own lens. I hope to spread “public diplomacy” as well by showing the good side and caring side of our American people and of our school personnel. I look forward to making life long friendships and connections with my fellow volunteers. I want to make my wife and children proud of me by modeling a life of service.
Question: How do you think the Memory Mission will change you? Do you have personal goals for what you take away from this experience?
Response: I think this trip will change me in terms of the building experiences, the family/citizen interactions, the overall cultural exchange in the Dominican Republic. My goal is to listen, learn, embrace the culture and the people and aim to give as much as I can to these projects.
Question: Please tell us about any past experiences with international travel. Where have you visited? What experiences abroad have left the greatest impression on you?
Response: I have traveled to Germany, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Dominica, Barbados, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico. I lived with a family in Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1992 while attending coursework at a school. The homestay in Mexico gave me an appreciation and respect for the Mexican people, culture, and ways of life as well as the life long skills of biculturalism and bilingualism. My travels to Spain included recruiting Spanish teachers to work in the USA in a dual-language Spanish/English immersion education program. I learned about Germany in 1995 during the opening of the Berlin Wall and the wrapping of the Reichstag. In addition I visited schools, professional learning institutes and government facilities. The greatest impressions I have include the “sameness” that we all share regardless of language, heritage, country, etc. We are all citizens of the world with contributions and benefits to share and to serve. My Caribbean experiences broadened my appreciation for global history, economic interdependence and natural and cultural beauty.
My efforts to help support this project stretch beyond manual labor. There is still a great need to raise funds for the construction and furnishing of the school. Your donation of any size to the Lifetouch Memory Mission can help us continue to raise a village out of poverty. Let’s create a positive change for hundreds of children and their families in this community!
Each day Kids Risk Lives to Reach School
For most parents and kids, crossing the street to catch the school bus may be the riskiest part about getting to school. Could you imagine sending your child on a 2 ½ mile hike up a mountain in order to receive an education? Or what if you didn’t have the ability to send them in the first place?
Children in Constanza, Dominican Republic face these unfavorable conditions daily. Many choose not to take the long journey to school and stay home instead. With the lack of educational resources in this part of the world, children are being deprived of reaching their full potential.
For more information:
We are Building Schools – And Hope – And You Can Help