Adelante

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. This is an online study program with an American University. I’m going to study International Business, but right now I’m getting ready to take two tests: 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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Reflections from an Outreach360 Adelante Volunteer…

​During my time with this program I have been experiencing the real meaning of sacrifice, service, and what it really takes to release the hero within.
The impact that every single volunteer who comes to Montecristi has in each student is amazing. The kids can feel the energy that their teachers bring to teach each class. For me it’s incredible to see how their knowledge increases which inspires me to keep volunteering here and loving it more every day.
I’m pretty sure that there is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others and that’s what OUTREACH 360 is doing in the lives of the children and the whole community.
The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.  Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.
Gordon B. Hinckley once said: ” The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: he or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”
Definitely my experience as an Adelante Volunteer has changed my life.
Aidil Acosta
(Adelante Volunteer)

Note: Aidil graduated from our English program in 2012 and began serving as an Adelante volunteer in 2013. Adelantes are graduates of our English program who volunteer at our Learning Centers after school and during their school breaks. Since 2013, Aidil has served more than 380 hours in our Learning Centers. As an Adelante she has served in many different leadership roles, including as a Spanish literacy teacher, co-English teacher, and co-camp director. Aidil is an incredible role model for our students and volunteers. She is very passionate about service and making a difference in her own community. Aidil is currently a freshman studying pre-medicine in Santo Domingo. During her breaks, she returns to Monte Cristi to volunteer with Outreach360. She aspires to one day use her medical degree to make a difference and serve under-resourced communities.

Sarah Edwards
Outreach360 Country Director
Dominican Republic

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