On Tuesday, very early in the morning, I will leave for the Dominican Republic to be a volunteer at the Armando Rosenberg Home and School. The orphanage is located in Sabana Perdida in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Sabana Perdida is considered one of the poorest provinces in Santo Domingo and this orphanage provides an education, a free medical clinic, a dental clinic and a church for the surrounding community that suffers through tremendous poverty. All of these services are located on a 15 acre property that started as only an orphanage for children in 1983. It was founded by Harold S. Wooden, a Rotarian from New Jersey, who was appalled at the original conditions of the orphanage, then called San Salvador. The dormitory was completed in 1988 and is now the home to around 140 children from all over the Dominican Republic who were orphaned, abandoned or come from circumstances of extreme poverty. There are also around 700 students who come to the orphanage to get an education and 2 high school buildings with a daily occupancy of 1200 students.

There will be high school students going on this service trip from multiple high schools in South Jersey. This is the first time in a few years that Absegami will have students participating and the 4 of us are very excited to be a part of it. We hope that this will open the doors for more students from our school to go in the years to come and create a connection between Absegami and the Armando Rosenberg Home and School. These kind of trips are what Rotary and Interact stand for: doing good for humanity. Having our high school participating, we hope that it will show other students what they can do and show them that our school's students are making a difference in the world.

I have gotten to travel outside of the US twice in my life, but I have never been to a country like the Dominican Republic that has so much poverty. This does not scare me, but it makes me excited and more anxious to help. I like that as a group we are going down there with a purpose and a goal of helping the children of this orphanage and the people of this neighborhood. I am also excited to see the culture and their own traditions. I have seen through my own travels that every country is different and every country has something special and unique about it. I am looking forward to discovering what makes the Dominican Republic special. Part of culture is language and communication will be one of the most challenging, but interesting, components of the trip. I know that even though I am in Spanish 3 at school, I will be asking the kids to repeat themselves or speak slower constantly. Somehow, though, through broken English and Spanish (and a few hand gestures) we will get our basic points across. This trip will be an experience unlike any other that many of us have ever gone through. I feel that we will come back with a better appreciation for what we have in our very privileged home country, but also a new desire to help people in this world who do not have the basic necessities that we very often take for granted. Overall, Tuesday can't come soon enough and I can not wait for the moment I get to meet the kids at the Armando Rosenberg Home and School.

Here is the link to the website for the orphanage: http://www.orchidfoundation.org