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Tilton Serves Globally Alongside The Batey Foundation

Sarah O'Neill
Just 1,700 miles south, yet a world away, the Dominican Republic and the bateyes have pulled at Tilton School students and faculty for more than four years. It’s a relationship that continues to grow and change the lives of our community as well as the children and families of the bateyes.
This past March, several members of the Tilton community put their spring break to use for a good cause. On March 13, twenty students and five faculty members departed Tilton School for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. There, they spent a week assisting The Batey Foundation with the construction of a school.

Providing much-needed support to children and families in the Dominican Republic, The Batey Foundation is an organization Tilton has worked with since 2014. Through the years, the school has sent over 100 members of our community to the bateyes. The foundation is a non-profit with a mission to “raise the living standards of the present generation of children and their families living in the bateys of the Dominican Republic, who are severely affected by poverty, disease, and hunger, while promoting sustainable development for future generations.” A batey (plural bateyes) is a rural community in the Dominican Republic inhabited by sugar cane workers. According to The Batey Foundation website, “even though the economy has been heavily dependent on sugar production and export since the 1500s, the 20th-century batey system was formally established by dictator Rafel Trujillo in the 1930s as a way to import cheap and dispensable Haitian migrant workers during the seasonal cane-cutting harvest.”

Day one of the Tilton trip consisted of orientation and a tour of Santo Domingo’s Naranjo region. Day two was the first day of work for Tilton students, when they began building the preschool in Naranjo. In addition to helping the local community, students learned more about themselves; while some have participated in service work before, traveled aboard, or had previous experience in manual labor, others came into this trip with no prior related experience. While in the Dominican Republic, students had a chance to be immersed in the culture with nightly activities including cooking traditional dishes and dancing to live music.

Zoey Nash-Boucher ‘19 traveled to Santo Domingo for the first time, and says she hopes it will not be her last time. “The trip really opened my eyes, and made me realize what I want to do when I’m older,” Nash-Boucher says of her experience. “I have always known I want to go into the medical field, but I didn’t realize how important helping people in poverty-stricken areas, like the bateyes, was to me. It made me realize I want to go into surgery in parts of the world where the most help is needed.”

Julie Caldwell, Director of Community Service at Tilton School and World Languages Department Chair, took part in the trip for the 5th year.

“Serving locally and globally reflects our school’s values, our mission and the vision of our school. Being involved in community service, specifically in the Dominican Republic, gives us an opportunity to make a long-term investment and impact in a developing community. Our students return with a deeper appreciation of the opportunities and resources available to them, as well as a better sense of what more they can do in their own communities.”