Thomaston Spanish students write to Dominican students
Thomaston — Students in Sra. Jordan's Spanish II class at Oceanside High School West have been studying about the Dominican Republic and writing letters to students at Colegio Moriah in San Pedro de Macorís.
Sra. Jordan has been a volunteer at the Dominican Republic school teaching English on many occasions. Colegio Moriah is a school serving 330 kids, grades pre-K through 12.
At the beginning of the year, the principal of Colegio Moriah and her husband visited Maine and came to the classroom to talk about the school and the population the school serves. Because the area is primarily populated by Haitian immigrants, students watched a documentary on PBS called "Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided," which was discussed with the guests. In addition, studetns explored some of the deeper issues of poverty through the series "Living on One," which is set in Guatemala but delves into universal truths about being poor in an underdeveloped country. Most of the families in the area around the school survive on an income of less than $100 per month.
In addition to exploring the country and topic of poverty through documentaries, the students are participating in the Peace Corps World Wise Schools program. Students correspond with a girl named Becca Paskiet who is a Peace Corps volunteer in another part of the Dominican. Through her letters, she is able to share with her observations from an American point of view. The Spanish II students wrote questions for her such as, "Do you have any different views on the way people in America live after having been down there?" and many more. She talks about her experience as becoming part of the community and the process of gaining confianza of the locals.
Of course, the students' favorite part of the exchange is writing letters directly to their pen pals. Due to the very poor (and expensive) mail system in the Dominican Republic, student send letters via people from Maine who volunteer at the school. In the last round of letters, students included fun trinkets from Maine, like tourist refrigerator magnets, soap shaped like lobster, and photo collages. Since the school in the Dominican does not have an English teacher this year, all the writing is done in Spanish. Oceanside students should be getting a response after the next volunteers go down in April. Through the letters, students have talked about their families, homes, school, after-school activities, and hobbies.