Since 2007, more than 200 Bement ninth grade students, alumni, and teachers have traveled to the Dominican Republic for a week-long service and learning experience.
For nine years, the week was spent working with the La Suiza Orphanage in San Cristobal. In 2016, Bement entered a new international partnership with Cambiando Vidas, a U.S.-based organization building homes for deserving families in the Dominican Republic. Cambiando Vidas is dedicated to the belief that every human being should have access to all of life’s essentials—shelter, food, clothing, education, and the opportunity to realize one’s full potential and ambitions.
When Bement students arrive in the Dominican Republic, they are greeted by the community members and a large pile of building supplies. During their week-long stay, students work hand in hand with Cambiando Vidas’ community volunteers to build a small, hurricane-safe, concrete block home. At the end of the week, the recipient family cooks a welcoming meal in their brand-new house to thank the volunteers who have constructed their new home.
Providing the opportunity to immerse themselves in a foreign culture, a different language, and the gift of service to others, this experience teaches so much to our students. The Dominican Republic service learning trips have been transformative experiences for Bement’s ninth grade students, often the subject of their reflective essays presented at baccalaureate and commencement. Students learn that despite geographical, economic, or cultural differences, we are all truly more alike than different, and that ‘home’ means so much more than just the roof over our heads.