From West Salem to the Dominican Republic


Freshman Kate Skaar will be attending the upcoming trip to the island of the Dominican Republic. The trip will consist of both fun and educational aspects, led by Ecology Club advisor Kelly Rueckheim, Spanish Club advisor and teacher Shelly Helland, and potential parent chaperones. Freshman to seniors in those clubs, as well as Spanish class students are welcomed to come on the trip. 

One thing Skaar said she was excited and ready to do was take surfing lessons. She also exclaims she’s excited to experience the culture and learn what it’s like to live there. They will be a part of the country outside of resort life, staying in hotels in the towns of the country. They will be moving from North to South of the country throughout the course of the trip. As of right now though, Skaar is unsure of the full itinerary and museums they are possibly going to stop at. She’s also excited to be with her partner of choice, freshman Priya Oshan. 

It may be too early to tell, but she says her family isn’t too nervous for her to go. She knows they will miss each other and it will be hard to leave them for that long, but feels it will be a beneficial trip. “I feel like it’s good to be away from home and be independent for awhile,” said Skaar. “It will definitely be a good learning experience for me.”

She also states that there is no fundraising, and for her situation, most of the trip cost of $1200-$1400 (including all costs) will come out of her personal account. She also said in an interview that it’s “too far away” for her to “even be thinking about packing and getting ready that way.”

In preparation for the trip, the leaders of the trip will have the students go to monthly meetings and summer classes. These classes and meetings will teach the students how to act appropriately and courteously for the new culture they are going to encounter and societal rules the island has. 

While there are many positive things about the trip, there are also some potential issues in Kate’s eyes. One of the major things she’s worried about is being away from family for so long. “Especially since I’m going to be out of the country, I’m scared to be away for so long,” said Skaar.

Despite this fear, Skaar stated she knew it was a good learning opportunity for her. She’s also a little nervous for the language barrier between her and the people living in Dominican Republic, and even some of the upperclassmen. She states that both of the groups know “far more” Spanish than she does, and she doesn’t want to miss anything they say.

Weather is another concern for Skaar.  “Although it’s unlikely, I don’t want any bad weather complications, like hurricanes or other tropical storms while we’re visiting,” said Skaar.

She is also nervous about the poisonings that occurred in the Dominican Republic recently, saying she doesn’t want anything bad happening to her or any of her classmates.  “There is definitely a risk involved, but I trust the chaperones to keep me safe,” said Skaar.