By Patricia Woodbury
Daniel Hogan- Works in the Dominican Republic
Tell me about your work in the Dominican Republic.
I work in La Romana, which is the third largest city in the Dominican Republic, with 1500 children from El Hogar del Nino. I teach English to the kids, as well as coordinate all the volunteers, but the best part of my job is extracurricular activities. We even have a special place called La Zona Verde, or The Green Zone, where all the extracurriculars happen. I have learned lots of things I didn’t know about arts and crafts, which I work with and had no experience with before coming to La Zona Verde. My favorite part is teaching music, though, because I am a musician.
Tell me about the college program you’re in, and how it got you to where you are now.
I go to Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, and this program is offered to all Stonehill graduates as a year of service. Each year they choose three or four students. Each student has their own responsibility on the campus, like working in Sala Cuna (Crib Room) or the library. The college provides the staples of life, such as food and shelter.
How is what you do different from what the other students from your college who come down to the Dominican Republic for shorter times?
The program I am in placed me and two other in the Dominican Republic for a year, but there is also an “Alternative Spring Break”, which is a week long. Since I am here so long I work with the kids a lot, and teach the teachers, but the kids who come for Spring Break do things like helping paint buildings and clean up our surroundings.
The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. Is it necessary to be fluent to do what you do?
I was a Spanish major in college, but I wouldn’t call myself fluent, I’d call myself more conversational. That’s all that’s really required. The reason behind my saying I’m not fluent is that I don’t know every word or all the grammar. The only thing that can prepare you for living in a different-language-speaking country is actually living in the country.
How does being a musician and artist fit into what you do?
I work with music with the kids an awful lot. I’ve even connected with a 13 year old boy from the school, who is really interested in music. They don’t have many instruments at the school, but I thought to bring my guitar. I will play while the kids sing along. We are currently raising money to send the boy, Quennie, to art school to help him peruse his passions.
What have you learned from the people you’re working with?
I’ve learned a lot about creativity. Teachers have to be creative due to lack of funds or materials. You have to be creative to live the life you want. Basically, creativity can make the difference between being happy with what you have and living in sorrow wishing you had things you don’t.
What do you hope your legacy at the places you have worked will be?
I really want to leave a legacy in La Zona Verde. I have done so much work here, and I hope that those who follow me will follow in my footsteps. I also, however, want to be remembered by the friends I have made here. I sure will miss them when I leave, knowing I will never see them again.