Dominican Service Trip Opens Eyes and Hearts for Middle Division Students

The annual Middle Division service trip to the Dominican Republic just returned to Tampa with a lifetime of memories and friendship bonds that span two very different cultures. A group of more than 30 Berkeley students and teaching chaperones  traveled to the Dominican Republic where they provided community service at the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation (CFCF) School, founded by Bobby Newman ’69 and his wife Merideth. The school, near Bonao, DR, educates impoverished children from surrounding villages.

The Berkeley students were on a mission to spruce up a greenhouse for the school, donate school supplies, and participate in school activities with the CFCF students. The students spent a considerable amount of time and effort working on the greenhouse that will one day grow vegetables for the students at the CFCF school. The students were joined by locals, who lent a helping hand in painting the greenhouse and filling the soil beds so that they can be seeded and harvested. Throughout the school year, the Berkeley students have been holding fundraisers to cover the cost of the greenhouse project.
The trip wasn’t all work and no play. In fact, one of the highlights of the trip included visiting the El Sendero del Cacao plantation to learn the process of making chocolate from a cacao pod into a delicious candy bar. While the students had a few opportunities to relax, shop, and learn the Dominican culture, they spent most of their time with their service mission at the forefront.
The students from both schools spent a considerable amount of time bonding, playing, and getting to know one another. There were plenty of hugs and few tears when the time came to say goodbye. However, the Berkeley students definitely made a lasting impression in the form of a beautiful mural painted on the greenhouse signifying the Class of 2023’s visit there.


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