Information gleaned from a letter to the friars written by Benjamin Pesante, Mission Trip Student Leader for the Dominican Republic, CUA Class of 2017:
This Spring break, a group of students from the Catholic University of America, along with Our Lady of the Angels Province friar and Associate Chaplain for Faith Development for the Office of Campus Ministry at CUA, Fr. Ericson de la Pena, OFM Conv., went on a mission trip to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The group volunteered in the small, impoverished neighborhood of Los Tres Brazos, serving as English Instructors at a local elementary school (grades 1-5), run by Bernardine Franciscan Sisters. The participants were challenged; making lesson plans, controlling the classroom environment, and most importantly making sure the students understood the material, all while making the class lessons very interactive and fun. After the school day, participants visited the townspeople, including the very sick. The joy of those people, through strong faith and supportive families, was a source of inspiration for the CUA students, although limited medical care availability was a profound source of frustration for those who are used to the healthcare availability of the USA. This experience magnified the importance and necessity of faith, not only the lives of the people of the Dominican Republic, but in the lives of the student participants. There was a realization that although we live very different lives, we all have Christ, and that is the most important connection that closely unites us, universally.
The group also provided some food and school supplies for which they had raised funds from donors in the USA. Overall, it was an incredible week.