Education is the key to breaking free from poverty. It provides the means necessary to rise above circumstances and make a better start for the future. Knowledge is power and millions of children are left powerless through a lack of educational opportunities.
At the same time, where education abounds, it is important to remember to educate the entire person. Memorizing facts alone is not what helps to create leaders and innovators. Children need inspiration. They need to move outside their comfort zone and be able to work on a team. However, the greatest skill that children must learn, if we want a brighter tomorrow, is compassion.
Education Across Borders (EAB) serves some of the poorest people of the world. Centered in the coffee farming region of the Dominican Republic, EAB is working to change the lives of those who so desperately need hope for the future. Their greatest asset, though, is that they teach the lessons of empathy, multiculturalism, and hard work to American students and adults in the process of improving lives in Dominican Republic.
EAB’s primary focus is education and community building. Through projects that provide sanitation, scholarships and greater access to education, and adequate housing, EAB has been serving the areas of Batey Libertad and Franco Bido for 20 years.
In the Dominican Republic, 42% of the population lives in poverty and only 10% of children graduate from high school. Yet, it is an area ripe for the best educational experience for groups of young people. Through the Immersion Program, groups of teens and young adults perform short term service projects that have lasting results.
The Pentecost Project immerses participants in the realities of poverty and teaches them how to work together with community members to fill dire needs. The futures of both residents and immersion volunteers are forever changed as the projects provide housing, sanitation, and health care. The greater gift is “the hope of conscientization: developing the critical consciousness (of self, and of local and global communities) to understand the roots of injustice and oppression, in all forms, as well as the ability to convert compassion into action for the common good.”
EAB is not only building bridges between American teens and Dominican residents in the communities they visit. A flip side of the education is the Community Exchange program that brings scholarship winners from both Batey Libertad and Franco Bido together to experience each other’s towns. Though these two towns are not geographically distant, this trip is far reaching in scope.
Scholarship winners have the opportunity to integrate, understand each other, and bridge gaps between the poor coffee farmers and the children of Haitian workers seeking a better life. The barriers of misunderstanding and marginalization are being toppled as the rising leaders of these regions learn to overcome discrimination.
Education Across Borders is at the head of the class for mitigating positive change in the world. There is much to be learned from their models and practices that teach best through working hands and open hearts. The epitomy of “One People, One Planet.”
Have you ever worked beyond your comfort zone to help in a culture much different than your own? How did this experience better prepare you for your future?