Change My Stars Immersion Program and Scholarship Fund
The Change My Stars program was an idea that was brewing for a few years as we focused on meeting the needs of the Haitian immigrant population as best as possible, but observing the additional challenges and desires of the general Dominican community. Dominicans also often have low quality public schools, lack of job opportunity, and lack of employment skills. As tourism is one of the largest industries in Puerto Plata, learning English is a coveted skill that can lead to better employment opportunities. Healthy and long term relationships with the expat community and English education from native English speakers are desires that have been expressed on a continuous basis. The Change My Stars program meets all of this.
Another factor that pushed us to make the idea a reality was the observations that the general expat community and our international volunteers seemed to have trouble connecting with the Haitian immigrant community. Most expat volunteers speak Spanish as opposed to Haitian Creole, and do not have the time to make connections and assess community needs to find other use for their skills. Therefore, we find that this assimilation and learning period is less when volunteers can teach something they know well, English, in a more predictable environment. The Change My Stars program provides an opportunity for international volunteers to provide a coveted skill to community members, while also forming relationships and having an enjoyable experience that will keep them connected to Project Esperanza when they return to their home country.
This program, which includes an English immersion camp and a scholarship program has its own separate blog. Much more information and frequent updates can be found here: http://changemystarsschool.blogspot.com.