Students with Gateway Christian School’s Intercultural Studies program visited the Dominican Republic in April where they helped build a school basketball court and physical education area. (Contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)

Students with Gateway Christian School’s Intercultural Studies program visited the Dominican Republic in April where they helped build a school basketball court and physical education area. (Contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)

Red Deer students travel to connect with students and families in the Dominican Republic

Red Deer Public Schools students fundraise to improve educational opportunities

Grade 12 students at Gateway Christian School travelled to the Dominican Republic in April to connect with students and help build a school basketball court and physical education area.

Thirteen students, along with two staff and a chaperone, spent spring break visiting Pena de Horeb, a primarily Haitian school, as well as Gateway’s partner school, El Colegio Cristiano Reformado Los Guandules.

For several years, Gateway students went to Nicaragua until political unrest erupted in that country. In 2019, they went to the Dominican Republic instead, but the pandemic prevented a return visit until this year.

Gateway principal Geannette Lehman said Gateway works in partnership with Edudeo Ministries to provide an experience that impacts both the schools that Red Deer students visit, and Red Deer students.

“It’s powerful. It’s really a meaningful opportunity for our students,” Lehman said.

She said the intention of the trips is for Gateway students to get to know another country, meet students there, and hopefully return wanting to serve others and make a difference, whether it’s big or small.

“They don’t have to go to another country to do that of course. But it opens a new view for them on just how blessed we are here, how fortunate we are, and how acts of service can make an impact on others, and also on us.”

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Students Alexa Huska, Gabe Gillies, and Kate Stober were part of the team that were in the Dominican Republic for 10 days.

Gillies said it was humbling to see how grateful those in the Dominican Republic were, even for the smallest things.

“They have little compared to us, and they are just so happy. They are grateful for the things they have and they don’t stress about the small stuff,” Gillies said.

“They have so much joy, and nothing mattered other than just being with one another,” Stober said.

Huska said it was really neat to connect with her fellow Grade 12 students.

“We’ve gone to school together since we were kids, so to have an experience like this together was really special. We were able to connect on a deeper level,” Huska said.

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Each student raised about $3,500 for travel and trip expenses, and to help fund the physical education area at Pena de Horeb school.

While they were there, students shoveled gravel and poured concrete for half of the project.

The trip was part of Gateway’s Intercultural Studies program where students research the country and schools they will visit, and work to become a team while preparing for the trip and fundraising.

Lehman said it’s a culminating opportunity for graduating students.

“We’re really grateful to Red Deer Public Schools for allowing our kids to do this.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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