May 14, 2004: Headlines: COS - Dominican Republic: Secondary Education: Santa Rosa Press Democrat: RPCV Lynn Moquete is planning a "Survivor" challenge for Petaluma teenagers in the Dominican Republic this summer

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Dominican Republic: Peace Corps Dominican Republic : The Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic: May 14, 2004: Headlines: COS - Dominican Republic: Secondary Education: Santa Rosa Press Democrat: RPCV Lynn Moquete is planning a "Survivor" challenge for Petaluma teenagers in the Dominican Republic this summer

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RPCV Lynn Moquete is planning a "Survivor" challenge for Petaluma teenagers in the Dominican Republic this summer

RPCV Lynn Moquete is planning a Survivor challenge for Petaluma teenagers in the Dominican Republic this summer

RPCV Lynn Moquete is planning a "Survivor" challenge for Petaluma teenagers in the Dominican Republic this summer

Dominican trip holds life lessons

Casa Grande teacher seeks to teach kids about Third World with annual journey

May 14, 2004

By JANET PARMER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

One of the exercises Casa Grande High School teacher Lynne Moquete is planning for Petaluma teenagers in the Dominican Republic this summer resembles a "Survivor" challenge.

She will ask the kids to carry heavy jugs of water for a distance to remind them of the value of indoor plumbing.

But there's a big difference between her assignment and the TV reality show: She's trying to raise awareness rather than force students to survive in primitive conditions.

Moquete, a human interaction instructor at Casa, is in the final weeks of organizing her seventh trip to the Dominican Republic for Petaluma youth.

During a two-week visit to La Descubierta, a rural village near the Haitian border, the 26 kids and 10 adults will construct a spartan home for a Dominican family.

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean island country of 8.7 million people that relies on sugar and tourism. It has had one of the fastest growing economies in the Western Hemisphere but one in four residents still lives in poverty, according to the CIA World Factbook.

For the students, Moquete said, "this trip might not change their lives, but they can't say they don't know people are starving or people don't have electricity.

"I always tell them this: If they choose, it can stay with them and catapult them into different areas of life -- or they can go and come back and be relatively unaffected," said Moquete, a former Peace Corps member who spent time in the Dominican Republic.

Just as English and math are required subjects for high school graduation, she wishes a two-week immersion in the Dominican Republic or another Third World country also were a school requirement.

Moquete is passionate about teaching kids things that typically aren't taught in classrooms or measured on standardized tests -- such as the meaning of sacrifice and the value of cultural diversity.

In addition to building a concrete and wood house with a corrugated tin roof, the Petaluma students will take excursions to Santo Domingo and the countryside. They'll also make a one-day hike into Haiti for a close-up view of life in a Third World country.

After the recent uprising in Haiti, Moquete assured edgy Petaluma parents that she would only take the group across the border if the situation simmers down.

Although many of the teens expect their adventure this June to be a grueling job in the humid tropics, Moquete tries to impress upon them the bigger picture of what she envisions.

"This year I'm more excited than I've ever been. This is the first year we're in my Peace Corps community working. It's like going home," said Moquete, who was in the Peace Corps from 1990 to 1992.

Casa junior Beth Kates is president of the school's Dominican Republic Club, and she's making her third trip this summer.

"Ms. Moquete has shared her passion with me and everyone else who's gone," Kates said. "She's a role model of what it's like to be passionate and devote your life to it. The trip puts everything in perspective and you come home and think about the little things you didn't think about before, like laying down in a nice bed at night and having a roof that works over your head."

Moquete, who met her husband, Angel, in the Dominican Republic, regularly tells the kids about the warmth and joyful spirit of the Dominican people. She talks enthusiastically about taking them to dance clubs, sampling native food and what it will be like living with their host families.

Moquete puts in hundreds of out-of-school hours coordinating the trip, and relies on volunteers and families of participating students to help with fund-raising, assembling donations and myriad tasks.

But the extra work is gratifying, and Moquete is pleased that numerous students return to the Dominican Republic for a second year. Many seniors have written college application essays about the trip and some have pursued college majors in international relations because of their experiences.

Moquete knows if her goal were only to expose Petaluma teens to poverty she could do that without leaving the Bay Area, but she values the cross-cultural experience.

"It helps to be immersed in the environment and to live with the people and see how they live and to be friends with them," Kates said. "It's more powerful than going to the city to work and coming home."

The trip isn't restricted to Casa students, and this year teens from Petaluma and St. Vincent high schools are traveling with the group.

To maximize the experience, Moquete requires students to attend monthly evening and lunchtime educational meetings, read books about the Dominican Republic and join in the work day sponsored by Petaluma's Rebuilding Together group.

To help pay for the trip, which costs about $2,000 a person, Casa's Dominican Club is holding a rummage sale from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday at Casa Grande.

For more information about the trip, contact Moquete at 782-9016, ext. 1670 or e-mail drtrip@hotmail.com.

You can reach Correspondent Janet Parmer at 762-7297 or jhparmer@comcast.net.




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Story Source: Santa Rosa Press Democrat

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Dominican Republic; Secondary Education

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