Connecting to the Dominican Republic is easier than ever through Shippensburg’s own Reach Out program.
Reach Out is a service-learning project that provides school materials and support for the Pathways Learning School in Santo Domingo of the Dominican Republic.
In Reach Out, the entire fall semester is spent preparing for the yearly service trip which is for eight days in January.
Once a part of Reach Out, students are divided into individual committees, and work towards weekly goals such as fundraising or managing events. The ultimate goal is to gather school supplies while saving enough money to build a new school for Dominican children.
Elizabeth Karper, part of Reach Out’s Public Relations team, described what it was like for the students who went on the past service trip.
“While at the school, students form teaching teams, and teach lessons from student-written manuals,” Karper explains. “We also take them on a field trip, such as last year, where we took them to a science center.”
Following the trip, the spring semester is spent reflecting on the trip, while recruiting for the next year.
To participate in SU’s reach out program, students must completely cover their expenses. However, Karper says that past students have completely paid their expenses through fundraisers.
Also, certain grants and financial aid packages can help pay for the trip, if students qualify.
“People should participate in Reach Out because you can gain and spread cultural awareness while helping underprivileged youth,” Karper says. “Depending on your role in the program, you can develop leadership, translating, Spanish speaking and teaching experience. But most importantly, it feels great to know that you’re helping other people and making the world a better place.”
Overall, the reward of the program goes past just helping children, Karper notes. “As stated by Jenny Keller, the Cultural Committee Chair and a traveler, the most rewarding thing is seeing the smiles on kid’s faces. From a club and class perspective, the most rewarding thing for me is knowing that I’m helping a great cause that can better many children’s lives and make the world a better place.”
While Reach Out is both a club and a class, one does not have to take the class to be in the club.
Originally, Reach Out was an honors program, but has evolved to include all majors and years of students, giving everyone the ability to participate and connect. To learn more about Shippensburg’s reach out program, visit ship.edu/honors/reachout