20 Traditions of the Dominican Republic Mission Trip to Commemorate its 20th Anniversary

March 27, 2019


Photo Credit: Isabella Thorpe/Achona Online

As a token of their gratitude, a school gave the missionaries coconuts to drink coconut water from following a shoe fitting.

The Academy mission trip to the Dominican Republic recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of service to the community of La Victoria.

Started by retired Chemistry teacher Rebecca Zambrano with the aid of Seeds of Hope, the first service trip to La Victoria during mini course week was initially intended to be a one-time opportunity. Yet, such success on the first trip determined the eagerness to return and ignited a spark to send other mission trips around the United States and outside of the country during mini course week; this past year, the Academy sent eight mission trips.

In honor of the anniversary of the trip, below is a list of 20 traditions that have been upheld throughout the past 20 years.

  1. The notorious sock and shoe drive leading up the trip


Photo Credit: Ashley Dingle (used with permission)
The missionaries packed over 600 pairs of shoes, and all of them were able to be given away by the end of the trip.

2. Lugging two suitcases filled with donated shoes with a single backpack for personal belongings on your back through the airports

3. Staying at Santuario de Shoenstatt

4. A presentation of the history of Santuario de Shoenstatt and its mission by an hermana or devoted member of the community on the first night

5. Mass every morning at 6:30

6. Sporting fishing pants and scrubs (fishing shirts, also, on the offchance that it is cool outside)

7. Developing bonds with the locals: Hermana Lourdes, Neñita, Victor, Genáro, and Andrés

8. The grocery trip to La Sireña (similar to a Sam’s Club)

9. The daily palette: Rice, beans, and plátanos

10. Taking on ambitious projects such as constructing basketball hoops for a local high school (2019), beautifying an overwhelmingly wide wall (2019), or building and painting cornhole boards (2018)

“My favorite thing was basketball hoops because we spent so much time at the hardware store and preparing them, so being able to see the children’s faces when we gave the hoops to them was really gratifying,” says Gabby Butler (‘20).

11. Depending on Gatorade chews and packets for energy (and the frequent Kola Real)

12. Sponsoring needy families assigned to us through Seeds of Hope and having the chance to visit them


Photo Credit: Lauren Jones (used with permission)
While the girls visit with their families, an Academy student who can speak Spanish conducts a housing survey with the mother of the household in order to determine what they need Seeds of Hope and the hermanas to provide.

13. Stations of the Cross which takes you through Santuario de Shoenstatt

14. An English immersion class with the university students


Photo Credit: Danica Rodriguez (used with permission)
One of the English immersion class games that is played is Categories.

15. Shoe fittings for the children at the malnutrition center, local schools-from elementary to high school, and the people of Santuario de Shoenstatt

Junior Emma Crall says, “Shoe fittings were my favorite because the story of how Jesus wipes the feet of his disciples became real when we wiped the feet of the children.”


Photo Credit: Lauren Jones (used with permission)
Following the shoe fittings at the Nutrition Center was a show put on by the children about rainbows; the young girl fitted by senior Lauren Dingle in the picture above played the sun in the presentation.

16. One night when the senior leaders cook for the hermanas and the rest of the group, followed by performances by the community of La Victoria and from the Academy group

17. Singing to the sick and elderly

18. Cornrows on the final night

19. Dancing with the young orphan girls at the orphanage nearby

20. Singing Alabare every night after prayer service, at the airport, and whenever a pick-me-up is needed.

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