Student News

Dominican Republic #5: Overcoming Language Barriers & Making New Friends

Paulina Baltazar – June 4, 2019

Aidan Philie ’20 and Caleigh Manguilli  ’20 reflect on a “satisfying” first two days. 


I have loved the trip so far. The Dominican Republic is a very interesting place. I also have loved working on site this week. All of the builders have been very helpful in showing the students how they can help.

My favorite part so far, was seeing the amount of progress we made after the first two days. The house went from just a foundation to a full frame. It was so satisfying to look back at the end of the day and to see how our hard work paid off. I am very grateful to be apart of this build as it is something I will never forget.

Meeting the people of the Dominican Republic has also been awesome. The kids are very funny. I have even been able to practice my Spanish with the kids. It needs some work. Overall, I have had a great two days and I look forward to the rest of my time here. It is a great trip.

Aidan Philie ’20


When I had first arrived here in the Dominican Republic, it was very intimidating not speaking much Spanish. Our first day at the work site yesterday, it was quite hard to understand what everyone there was saying and what they wanted me to do. Although it is still a little bit of a struggle in terms of communicating with people, one of the kids I met took a lot of this intimidation away.

During our lunch break yesterday, he sat next to me and we started playing together despite the language barrier. I talked to the little boy in what little Spanish I knew and we just played some hand games but after that he stuck to me like glue. The rest of the day yesterday he would take my hand or my arm and take me around the work site and would follow me around as I was moving buckets of concrete or blocks.

Later in the day before we left, he and I were hanging out under the tent with other students and some of them were able to translate for us, and he told one of my friends that I was his new best friend. The next day, when he came back to the work site as soon as he saw me he sent me a huge grin and waved. He continued to stay with me while I was working and would try to help me lift things even though he was only around 6 or 7. We spent lunch together again and were able to hangout when things were slow in the afternoon, and I just found it to be one of the most amazing things to become so close to this little kid despite this huge language barrier. This little child genuinely brought so much comfort and happiness to me. It was a great two days so far, getting to build this house and build such great bonds with the people.

From left to right: Garret DeMallie ’21, Caleigh Manguilli ’20, and new friends.

Click here for more pictures of the build.