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Outreach360 Students in Nicaragua Need Your Support

Due to civil unrest that started in April 2018, our Learning Center in Nicaragua has been operating with minimal funding and without international volunteers for almost a year. The funding gap this has created is significant and needs to be closed in order for us to keep our Learning Center in Nicaragua open through the end of 2019. That’s why Outreach360 will be participating in Arizona Gives Day for the first time since 2015. By scheduling a donation to Outreach360 through Arizona Gives Day we can not only raise the necessary funds together but also help Outreach360 win an additional $1,000 for having the most pre-scheduled donations on April 2nd.

Despite having to close our Volunteer Program and therefore going without international volunteers and the funds they typically bring with them, we have worked hard to ensure that our students are able to continue learning with us; we have maintained our regular Monday – Friday schedule for all of our students. Our in-country staff and local volunteers are stretched and have shown great perseverance and creativity as they work with our students. They are doing a great job keeping our students engaged and learning. Currently, our students are studying hard for their final exams for their English levels. We have placed a lot of emphasis on their English writing skills as well as promoting good reading skills. In addition to our English programming, we have also been able to continue focusing on Spanish Literacy and Math. 

Last year we held a successful fundraising campaign called “87 Heroes” and raised the funds needed to operate our Learning Center through to the end of 2018. We don’t currently have enough monthly sponsors to cover the full costs associated with operating our Learning Center and now that we are approaching almost a year without our international volunteers, we have an urgent call to raise the necessary funds to cover our funding gap of $40,000 in order to keep our Learning Center open through the end of 2019. We can’t imagine having to close our doors on our students but that could become a reality if we aren’t able to raise the necessary funds. 

Your donation will help ensure that our students in Nicaragua are able to continue to attend Learning Center classes Monday through Friday, have access to the incredible educational opportunities Outreach360 has to offer, and ultimately, have a path towards a Life of Choice, be it vocational training or a university degree, through Outreach360’s Adelante+ program. Participation in this fundraiser is very easy:
1. Go to https://www.azgives.org/outreach360
2. Click the “Donate” button.
3. Fill out the donation form on the following page and be sure to click the “Scheduled for AZ Gives Day” button under Donation Type. 
4. Share this incredible opportunity (and instructions) to keep our Learning Center open for the students in Nicaragua with your personal network! 

There are so many great ways to help keep the Learning Center in Nicaragua open. Here are just a few:
Donate your birthday to Outreach360 on Facebook or with our own fundraising platform.
Ask and enroll your friends and family to donate to AZ Gives Day.
Become a monthly Touch the Future Student Sponsor!

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Beth Anderson returns to Monte Cristi!

For those of you who traveled as an Outreach360 volunteer to the Dominican Republic between 2015 and 2017, you’ll remember OLÉ Leader turned Team Leader turned Site Director, Beth Anderson. For the first time in nearly two years, Beth will be returning to Monte Cristi as a Group Leader on her alma mater’s alternative break trip.

Beth is currently the Assistant Director at Southern New Hampshire University’s Chandler Center (formerly the Center for Community Engaged Learning). SNHU sends student volunteer teams down to Outreach360’s site in Monte Cristi, the Dominican Republic annually and it was on one of those trips that Beth was first introduced to the organization. Naturally, she jumped at the opportunity to support in leading her students on the exact trip that had such a big influence on her just four years ago.

Our Development Director, Audrey Sharp, who served alongside Beth for their first six months on staff in the Dominican Republic interviewed Beth on her upcoming return to Monte Cristi.

Audrey: Pretend we’re not best friends and I don’t know everything about your life.
Beth: Ok. Woo! Here we go.

Audrey: Hey Beth!
Beth: It’s good to see you!
Audrey: How are you?
Beth: Good! Thanks for taking some time to talk to me today.
Audrey: No, thank you! So, how long has it been since you were last in Monte Cristi?
Beth: Umm… let’s see. I left May 30th, 2017 so it has been a little over a year and a half. Yeah, it will be two years this May.
Audrey: And so you’re heading back on March 9th. And who are you going with?
Beth: I’m going down with Southern New Hampshire University’s alternative break team.
Audrey: Does it feel full circle for you to go from volunteering as a student to working for Outreach360 and then coming back with students of your own?
Beth: Oh it does feel so full circle! It’s weird. When I think about it… I’ve almost done every single piece of alternative break. Right? Like I was a participant and then I was a trip leader and then I was a community partner and now I’m an advisor. And so… aside from running the alternative break program, I’ve really done every piece of it. And that’s especially true with Outreach360, going from volunteer to an OLÉ volunteer to Team Leader and right to Site Director and now as someone who still stays as actively involved as I can in the goings-on, it’s kind of interesting.

Audrey: Do you feel in every layer of the alternative break world that you get into that you’re still getting something new out of the experience?
Beth: Yeah! I think it’s all how you look at it. Every time I have a different experience with Outreach360, I’m asking myself what I can bring to it but also what I can get out of it. As a first-time volunteer with Outreach360, it was very much like, “I don’t know anything here so I’m just going to jump in and see how it goes.” Whereas now the experience is more about the volunteers and making sure that my students are getting a lot out of the experience. I could go into it acting like I already know everything; that’s a really easy mentality to take on, especially after having been there for two years and being the community partner, but for me, this still is a new experience. I’ve never been an advisor before so trying that on and making sure that the students are basically having that first-time experience that I did is important for me.
Audrey: I think with alternative breaks, we tend to use hyperbolic language, like “It was life-changing,” or “I’m bringing so much back from this trip,” but you don’t necessarily get the specifics. So, I’m curious… What are the specific thoughts or memories or concepts you want your students to come back with? If you had to pick three, what do you think they’re most likely to get out of it and/or you’re hoping they get out of it?
Beth: That’s a great question! I think what I hope they get out of it is:
1. A deeper understanding of themselves and their roles and responsibilities as it relates to the community. I want them to walk away feeling like even though it is a different community with a different culture, they can still have successes and triumphs.
2. I hope they build some meaningful relationships with people in Monte Cristi. It’s a really special place in my heart and those people have forever changed the way that I think and view the world and other people from other cultures. I hope they are able to gain some cultural competency from that.
3. Deeper connections with each other and themselves; I hope they come to understand that nobody can do this work on their own and that the week that they have together reinforces their belief in humanity and that we all need each other.
Audrey: That’s such an important lesson!
Beth: Yeah!
Audrey: On a personal level, what are you most excited about?
Beth: I’m most excited to reconnect with everyone there! The Outreach360 staff, students, and community members. It feels like visiting family I’m overdue to see! And of course, the food.



Audrey: What are you most excited to eat?
Beth: Oh, literally everything! I’ve been thinking about this a lot actually… no surprise. I just want all the food, like rice and beans, stewed chicken… like I can’t. Sweet plantains, tostones, and I can’t wait to visit Mecho and have some juice.
Audrey: Are there any souvenirs or Dominican treats that you’re already planning on bringing back?
Beth: Yes! Chokis, it’s a chocolate chip cookie, kind of like a Dominican Chips Ahoy but it also has chocolate in the middle. And I’ll definitely bring back some Santo Domingo coffee. I’ll try to bring back as much as I can. I miss that coffee a lot.
Audrey: So, you’ve stayed a Touch the Future student sponsor this whole time, starting back when you were an OLÉ. Why do you continue to sponsor students in both our programs? Why is that important to you?
Beth: That’s a great question! It’s because I believe in the work that’s being done. And when I was there, it was really easy to see the work the volunteers were doing, it was easy to make that connection in real time. But I also understood that we couldn’t have done that without the support of donors who had decided to stay involved. So for me, it is a no brainer. I am, of course, going to stay involved however I can. The students clearly want this opportunity so why wouldn’t I do anything in my means to make that possible?
Audrey: Finally, what is your favorite Outreach360 principle and why?
Beth: Man… they’re so near and dear to my heart and I say that with no sarcasm. I love those principles so much. I think it’s a great way to live your life. I still think “poco a poco” is one of my favorites… just because it speaks to the work of social change. Things don’t happen fast and they don’t happen easily but it doesn’t mean that they’re any less important or that you should give up and stop doing it. So, little by little, every piece of the puzzle matters and every person contributes to something and I think when people realize that and connect to it, a lot of change can happen because you have so many forces working towards it. I think people can often get frustrated with progress. And I’ve been there too. So I think it’s important to have something to fall back on and for me, I think “poco a poco” does that. It keeps me humble.

Beth and Audrey will both be in the Dominican Republic next week so connect with Outreach360 on Facebook and Instagram for live videos and updates from the program!

To watch a video on our Learning Center in Monte Cristi featuring Beth, click here.
To learn how you can volunteer in this incredible community click here.


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Ana Jimenez, Outreach360 graduate and future teacher!

My name is Ana. I am 20 years old.
When I was 7 or 8 years old, I started to attend Outreach360’s neighborhood camps. I remember how fun it was to be there, singing songs and playing. When I was 9 years old, I started the English program. I graduated in 2012 after four years of studying.

Right now I am an Adelante + Serve/Study Student at Outreach360. I teach in our Learning Center, I help volunteers teach, and I am studying to go to university. I am also the Program Director for our Spanish literacy program, which has 74 new students. As Program Director, I help to improve the Spanish reading and writing of our new students before they enter the English program.

Outreach360 for me is a place where I see hope and self-improvement. It is a place for opportunities and breaking barriers. I remember participating in a spelling bee when I was in my third year in the Outreach360 program. I was so nervous and I did not think I could win. But in the end, the unexpected happened, and I won second place! That was one of the happiest moments in my whole life.

I want to be a teacher because I like to help others. At Outreach360, I learned the value of education, helping the students to overcome their fears and believe in themselves, and helping them achieve their dreams. All of this has inspired me to make the most important decision of my life, to become a teacher. I want to be a language or history teacher because I love to learn new languages to connect with other countries and I love to see what happened in the past to make the present right now. History is important to know. 

I hope to see the students become leaders like me. I want to see them reach their goals. I want to see them happy! Outreach360 is just the beginning for me and our students as well.

To sponsor Ana and help cover the costs of her tuition, books, etc. contact us at donor@outreach360.org
To learn more about our volunteer program in the Dominican Republic, visit, www.outreach360.org/dominican-republic/

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An Interview with Adelante Plus Student Aidil

Aidil Acosta (21) is an Adelante Plus student with Outreach360. She is currently studying medicine at a university in the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, on her way to becoming a doctor. During her breaks from school, Aidil returns to her hometown, Monte Cristi, to teach English and Spanish literacy to Outreach360 students in the Learning Center where she spent much of her own childhood! As a Serve-Study student, Aidil receives an Outreach360 sponsorship to cover the costs of her schooling.

Since I was around 8 years old I was participating in Outreach360 camps, but officially I started at the Learning Center when I was 12. I graduated from the Learning Center in 2012 and now I am studying medicine at the  Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD). 

What does Outreach360 mean to you? 
Outreach360 means hope to me, it means future and an open door to limitless opportunities.

Why is education important? 
For me, education is important because it gives us knowledge of the world around us and changes it into something even better. It develops in us a perspective of looking at life. It helps us build opinions and have points of view on things in life. It makes us capable enough to understand the world and its habitats and respect everything and everyone in a better way.

How do you see Outreach360 volunteers making an impact in Monte Cristi? 
The work done by the volunteers throughout the years has impacted my life. From teaching me English and showing me, always with a smile and a good attitude, that there is so much more than what I could see in this small city, that there was so much more out there that I could see and experience, and that my dreams were never too big, because everything is possible for those who believe and work hard to pursue their dreams. I believe this kind of impact is what the volunteers are having with all of the kids they come in contact with and not only them but also their families.

What is your favorite memory growing up with Outreach360? 
My favorite memory growing up with Outreach360 is getting to meet so many wonderful people (the volunteers) from different places and that I had the opportunity at such a young age to make many friends from other parts of the world that I never even knew about.

What is your dream for your future?
My dream is to become a doctor and help my people and change people’s lives by giving back with what grace I have received: love and service. 

Is service important to you? Service is very important to me because service teaches one to be selfless. An act of service allows a person to think first about the needs of others and then to consider how he or she may be of help. Service is the selfless act of giving others what they could not provide for themselves. The act has the potential to transform not only others but also the person who performs the service.

Click here for a video highlighting more of Aidil’s and, her brother, Caleb’s story with Outreach360.

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14 Days of Giving

 

 

We are so excited to announce that we have an anonymous donor who will be giving $10,000 to Outreach360 at the end of December when we meet our year-end fundraising goal of $30,000! So, to kick off an exciting month of fundraising, we are launching, for the first time ever, Outreach360’s 14 Days of Giving! It’s a daily contest in which donors like you enter daily to win amazing prizes, like Outreach360 water bottles and t-shirts and even some vintage Orphanage Outreach gear. It’s easy to enter, all you need to do is donate to the 14 Days of Giving fundraising page.

For every $10 you donate, we’ll enter your name into a daily drawing and an additional name in our Grand Prize bucket. At the end of each day we’ll pull out a name, announce the winner and then start over the next day, but throughout the two weeks, names will accumulate to win the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize is a $1,800 credit towards an Outreach360 trip! To put that into perspective for you, $1,800 would cover the cost of two individuals volunteering for a week, the cost of one person volunteering for three weeks or would cover more than 50% of the cost for an eight-week Caminos Internship (see a breakdown of our volunteer costs). There are only 14 days to win the daily prizes so spread your donations out across multiple days or go all in on one of the days for a higher chance of winning, but no matter what, we’ll continue adding your name to the Grand Prize drawing!

As 2018 comes to a close, and we reflect on the past year, we can’t help but feel overwhelming gratitude for all that our supporters have made possible. In Nicaragua, despite current unrest, we’ve managed to not only keep the Learning Center open to our students but have also expanded programming to include university prep for our high school students! And in Monte Cristi, we had a record-making summer with a vocational-themed six-week Dare to Dream Camp for our Learning Center students, in which they learned about professions in STEM, the performing arts, and tourism and were even able to take field trips around the country relating to the professions that they learned about. For many of our students, this was their first opportunity to travel outside of Monte Cristi.

We already have a lot to look forward to in 2019. We are hopeful our volunteer program in Jinotega will reopen in the summer and volunteer-run English lessons and neighborhood camps will start back up. In the Dominican Republic, we are preparing to enroll a whole new class of fifth-grade students into the Learning Center. In the first few months, they will be learning how the program works and preparing for their English education with an intensive Spanish literacy program. 

With so much to look forward to, there’s also a lot of preparation that needs to be done. That’s why our December goal is so important and why an anonymous donor has stepped up to help make our 2019 goals possible! It’s not lost on us that we couldn’t do any of it with you, that’s why with the 14 Days of Giving we’ll be able to give back some to you for all that you give. Never forget, YOU are Outreach360! We’re so proud to have you in our family. 

Click for the most recent update on our volunteer program in Nicaragua.
To follow the progress of the 14 Days of Giving and our December fundraising goal, visit our Facebook page.
Click to donate to the 14 Days of Giving Fundraiser.

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Summer Volunteer Programs Abroad 2019

Outreach360 has a variety of exciting volunteer opportunities for you this summer, each that strive to help educate under-served children in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Through working at local schools and the Outreach360 Learning Center, you will have the opportunity to teach children in areas you are passionate and most knowledgeable about. Not only will you be able to make a difference in these children’s lives and create lasting memories, you get to do so in our two amazing locations, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

Here is more information about our two beautiful locations along with other volunteer opportunities:

Dominican Republic
Outreach360 is stationed in the northwest region of the Dominican Republic in a small town called Monte Cristi. In Monte Cristi, you will experience the quaint fishing town with its beautiful beaches, historical salt flats, and breathtaking scenery. In addition to the sites and activities you will be immersed in on your trip here, you will also be able to interact with the local children and help to provide English education. Therefore, this volunteering is for anyone! By teaching and helping them with their English, you are unlocking countless possibilities for their success in the future.

Nicaragua
Nicaragua is one of the most scenic and safest countries in Central America. Outreach360’s Learning Center is located in the coffee growing town of Jinotega. Jinotega is also known as “The City of Mist” due to it being located in the mountains of Nicaragua. While you are a volunteer you will be able to experience the rich culture, explore beautiful locations as well as serve a very under-served part of Nicaragua.

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to our powerful service trips to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua trips, we have created the Dare to Dream Summer Camp Program that expands upon these volunteer trips. This program is not only about helping to educate children but rather giving them the tools they need to grow up and be WHATEVER they want to be. Through the Dare to Dream Program children have the opportunities to expand their education in the areas of English, Science, Math, Literacy, and more! So if you have a strong passion in any of these fields or any others, you have the opportunity to shape and mold your own volunteer curriculum and bring a new skill to these children in need.

No matter what your passions are, there is a way you can incorporate them into your volunteer time with Outreach360.

Register Today!

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An Update on our Program in Nicaragua

Dear Outreach360 Family,

Thank you for all of your support for our program and our students. Some of you may have been following the events taking place in Nicaragua over the course of the last several months. We appreciate your concern and wanted to give you an update.

Nicaragua has been in the news recently for civil unrest. What started as peaceful protests in response to a change in the social security system by the government on April 18th has turned into a difficult situation. However, as the local dialogue continues and international human rights organizations get involved, we are hopeful for a peaceful and orderly resolution.

As always, safety is our number one priority and for that reason, we have suspended our volunteer program for the summer. We would like to acknowledge our volunteers who have either moved their service trip to our program in the Dominican Republic or who have put their trip on hold, for showing great flexibility and understanding.

We are, as always, committed to our students and will be continuing classes at the Learning Center. But with no volunteer funds coming to our Nicaragua program this summer, we have a funding gap. We are looking at other avenues to procure the additional resources we need to support the 87 students in our program. If you would like to contribute to this effort, we invite you to take on one of the following:

  1. Are you a Touch the Future Sponsor in Nicaragua? Please consider increasing your monthly donation. To do so, contact us at donor@outreach360.org
  2. Become a Touch the Future Sponsor for one of our students in Nicaragua.
  3. Make a donation to support our 87 Heroes, the 87 incredible students that need us right now. We are looking to raise $8,700 in their honor between now and next Monday! These funds will close the Learning Center funding gap we have for the remainder of 2018.

More than ever, we recognize and appreciate your incredible support. Please continue to keep the people of Nicaragua in your thoughts and prayers.

Gracias,

Coco Barrett
Country Director, Nicaragua

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Family Volunteer Vacations – Make Memories Matter

Outreach360 has been helping families make memories that matter for over 20 years. Through our family volunteer vacations in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, we have not only provided a great service to these communities but have also strengthened the bonds between families all over the country. You might be asking yourself: “Don’t all vacations strengthen family bonds?” Here at Outreach360, we believed that we curate experiences that no other family vacation can match.

So, how do you know if a volunteer vacation is right for your family?

Here are the reasons you should make your next vacation a family volunteer vacation:

Family Bonding Time
The world is full of distractions, largely related to electronics. Phones, tablet, and computers seem to be a constant distraction for families and take away from the potential memories that could be built on vacations. During all Outreach360 volunteer trips, families are given the opportunity to disconnect from the rest of the world and reconnect with family members. This is an amazing opportunity for parents to bond with their children as they get older. As kids get older, parents often have difficulty finding time to fully connect with them. A volunteer vacation is a perfect opportunity to foster this reconnection while also making it fun and educational.

Teach Lessons and Values
Being immersed on a volunteer trip in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua allows for families to learn valuable lessons about giving, service, and helping others. These are core values many families try to teach through regular volunteering. However, being able to participate in a week-long volunteer trip physically shows the values and teaches them first hand. Children are able to see how helping to teach the ABC’s to a child in need can put the biggest smile on their face. These little moments can result in everlasting lessons and memories that will live on and shape your family.

Make Memories that Matter
All vacations are memorable. Whether it is something funny that happened on the beach or that amazing meal you had for dinner, there is no doubt that all time spent with family on vacations create memories. Outreach360 can give you and your family the ability to make memories that not only matter to you but also to others. By spending just one week in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua, you are able to make an impact on the community by teaching and helping others. You and your family will cherish these memories forever and feel so full after your time with us, but your actions and time will create memories for those in need that will also be coveted forever. These dual memories mean so much to all involved, and through this opportunity for a family volunteer vacation, you will be able to create memories that matter.

Outreach360 works to provide the safest and most memorable vacation for families. Be sure to check out our Family Volunteer Vacations page to learn more. We hope you join us to make memories that matter with your family.

Register Today!

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Poco a Poco You Will Make a Difference

Good things take time. You will not change the world in one week while volunteering abroad; however, you will make a world of difference in one or more students’ lives. Empowering Outreach360 students to live a life of choice through English education will lead to a transformed world. The combined efforts of Outreach360 volunteers and donors in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic ensure this reality. Poco a Poco or little by little, you bring the opportunities that will fuel Outreach360 students’ future.

Why does this matter? Because sustainability matters.

Outreach360 takes measured steps towards educating groups of students who might one day take over our program, allowing us to pass on our teacher torches. Poco a Poco. Volunteers are the building blocks of our students’ growth in education. The knowledge they share during their time in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua will be further developed by the many volunteers that come after them.

This can be best shown by the Outreach360 Adelante Volunteers. These volunteers are returning students that have graduated from the Outreach360 English language learning program. Their success in the Outreach360 program is due to the many hours of volunteer efforts which paved the educational foundation for Adelante Volunteers’ advancement. This Poco a Poco process has transformed the lives of our Adelante Volunteers by empowering them to give back to their own community.

Charlotte Zhen, an Outreach360 volunteer from the University of Western Ontario, explains, “At first, I was a little skeptical about whether I could actually make a difference by volunteering for only one week. Outreach360 taught me that we should approach service with a Poco a Poco or a little by little mentality. Outreach360 does that by having volunteers serving year-round. Our combined efforts will lead to a sustainable education program, and eventually, the children will be leading their own schools and programs.”

Poco a Poco, education transforms the lives of all Outreach360 students. More importantly, this process inspires students to become educators. Adelante Volunteers come back to Outreach360 to teach new students. These individuals serve Outreach360 by creating a sustainable program where students become the teachers. In the near future, we will be giving Adelante Volunteers and native teachers the reigns of our program, which will, in turn, allow Outreach360 to branch out to other countries in Latin America.

“Spending one day with a child may not change their life; not right away. But being one day among the days of many volunteers adds up Poco a Poco. And that is when lives are changed,” Carly Greer, an Outreach360 volunteer from the University of Missouri, said.

Your direct involvement in the Outreach360 volunteer programs will motivate underserved students to dream big. Although you will only spend a short period of time volunteering, your influence will be continued to be felt by the service of volunteers that follow you. This process may be slow, but the rewards are big.

Jordan Weinstein, an Outreach360 volunteer from Edinboro University, said, “Working with these kids and being able to see them grow from just one week is so rewarding. Imagine what they can do with their lives if more people were able to donate and come serve year round. Nobody wants to feel stuck on a path that seems that they have no say in the matter of their own lives. That is why Outreach360 is so important.”

Looking to get involved? Poco a Poco, you will make a difference here: https://donate.outreach360.org/campaign/dare-to-dream-hike-2018/c162117

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Learning to Serve in the Dominican Republic

Outreach360 Adelante Plus Volunteer Guest Writer: Caleb Acosta

Caleb Acosta teaches Outreach360 students in the Dominican Republic Learning Center located in Monte Cristi.

My name is Caleb Acosta, I’m from the Dominican Republic, I’m 17 years old. I grew up in a humble family, composed of five members: my dad’s name is Miguel Acosta, my mom’s name is Norma Marichal, my brother’s name is Joshua Acosta, and my sister’s name is Aidil Acosta. I want to share my Outreach360 story and how I came to be where I am today.

In 2008, I was a student at Escuela Basica John F. Kennedy in Monte Cristi. I was in third grade at this time. One day, when I was sitting in my chair watching by the window, I could see Americans in this moment. It was a group of Outreach360 volunteers inviting students to the summer camp, but I wasn’t invited to the camp because I was too young for it. I was sad about not being able to go, but at the same time, I was happy because my brother and my sister were able to go the camp. They told me everything they did in the camp and everything they learned as well. I was excited about the camp and that became part of my dream. I lived as if I had attended the camp.

Caleb smiles with his sister, Aidil Acosta, and an Outreach360 volunteer, Ryan, after teaching Learning Center students in the Dominican Republic.

In 2009, I became the right age to start the classes in Outreach360. I started my classes with my sister Aidil, and the first year was such a great year; however, the next year was different. I just wanted to play all the time with my friends, and I wasn’t enjoying the classes. It was like being a new Caleb, but that is not the only sad story. It’s good to remember that even negative things can be used; we can take them as an example and with them make a positive change that will help us to mark the path of our lives.

I remember one day in my English class that the teacher asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For the first time, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I was hearing all my friends saying, ‘lawyer, engineer, architect, and doctor,’  but I didn’t say anything this day and that question was circling in my head. The next day of class the teacher was talking about the verb ‘to be’, but I didn’t understand what the teacher was saying. Then she showed me a beautiful smile and she taught me one more time, and I just learned because of this smile. I learned from the love of her actions. There will be days where you will ask yourself:

What do I want to be remembered for?

What can I do for others to make a world a better place?

What is my purpose on this earth?

Caleb Acosta (left) takes a photograph with Peter, an Outreach360 Dominican Republic Learning Center student, during an English immersion camp.

Some of us probably think that our purpose is to get a lot of money, buy a big house or buy an expensive car, or get the latest cell phone of the year. Let me tell you that is not our true purpose on this earth, it is not where we’re going to find our sense of completion. The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. When you work towards something greater than yourself, you find meaning and you find purpose. When you keep people at the center of what you do, it can have an enormous impact. Deep inside of us lives a hero who wants to do something great with their life, who wants to inspire other people, and who wants to change the world. We need to use our minds, our hands, and our hearts to build something bigger than ourselves.

If you are not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. When your life means something to somebody other than you, then you have a purpose. We need to live in service to humanity. And from the teacher’s smile, I learned all of these things and I learned the answer to the question too. What do I want to be? I want to be in service to my family, to my church, to my city, to my country, and to the world. I think that is the purest form of joy.

Caleb poses with his father, Miguel Acosta, at his 2017 high school graduation from the Colegio San Jose of Monte Cristi as the Valedictorian.

I graduated in 2012 from my Outreach360 English class, Those three years were the best years for me because I learned a new language. That wouldn’t have been possible if all the volunteers weren’t here to teach us this new language that will open the door for new opportunities for a better life. After my graduation, I become an Adelante Volunteer. As an Adelante, I serve in the program volunteering at the Learning Center. I have the opportunity to practice my English with the American and Canadian volunteers. I was an Adelante Volunteer for six years.

In 2017, I graduated from my High School the Colegio San Jose of Montecristi as the Valedictorian. I was also accepted by Outreach360 to be an Adelante Plus Volunteer. I’m going to Dental School this fall, and right now I’m preparing by studying to take the GED and TOEFL test. In addition to this, I’m teaching English in the Learning Center, and that is a dream come true for me. I can see how the volunteers’ work is transforming the world where every person lives a life of choice, having the vision to continue to grow, and Release the Hero Within.

Learn more about Outreach360 here: www.outreach360.org.

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