Our Stories: Volunteers
English Teacher, NPH Dominican Republic
A Year-Long Rollercoaster Ride
This last year at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH, Spanish for "Our Little Brothers and Sisters") has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. There were highs and lows, twists and turns, all throughout my time at NPH. I was able to stay on track, which is something I am very thankful for. What made this year most like a rollercoaster was that the ride was continuous. Even though there were parts that slowed down and sped up, the ride never ended and the end has only recently become clear. Recently, I have started to experience feelings of melancholy as I reflect on this past year, which I’m about to disembark.
I came to NPH to teach English. From the beginning, I was given notice that teaching in the school is one of the most challenging volunteer positions. They weren’t kidding. In retrospect, I’ve found the most positive and negative aspects of my job to be one and the same, which is that I spend a lot of time with the kids. It’s nice because I got to know just about all the children of NPH and developed close relationships with them. Some of the kids have a strong desire to learn English and speak with me tirelessly. As a teacher, it makes me proud to know that I’ve become a part of this development. On the contrary, spending a lot of time with the kids can be exhausting, especially in a structured environment like the school. Some of the children at NPH come from difficult backgrounds, and this can sometimes be seen in the form of behavioral issues. At times, the kids that didn’t want to learn made it difficult for those that did. This was one of the hardest obstacles. However, I’m happy to say that as the year progressed things got easier. I altered my lessons, expectations, approach to teaching, and was able to engage more of kids in my planned activities.
Outside of work I spent a lot of time playing sports with the kids. In the afternoon or on the weekends we would organize soccer or basketball games. The kids take their sports seriously so the matches were very competitive. When I didn’t feel like running around, I’d hang out with the kids in the park. We’d chat about music, sports, or just life in general. I enjoyed this because I got to know the kids on a more personal level.
They say you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Even though this ride hasn’t come to a complete stop just yet, I appreciate my time here with the kids and the experience NPH has provided. Although it’ll be sad to leave, I realize that NPH will never be gone. It will always be a part of my life as I continue to visit over the years. It’s comforting to know that I’ll always have a home in the Dominican Republic at NPH.
• International Volunteer Program
• International Volunteer Program Fact Sheet (PDF)
• Our Homes: NPH Dominican Republic
• NPH Dominican Republic Fact Sheet (PDF)
• Travel Opportunities