The Dominican Republic


Summer Houck, Staff Writer

Spanish and Ecology club are taking an exotic trip to the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2020. Although the Dominican Republic is beautiful, there have been concerns regarding the safety of the trip due to recent deaths related to alcohol poisoning. 

There was a meeting in September and the Spanish and Ecology club discussed the importance of keeping the students and advisors safe, and how they plan on approaching that. “We have very clear and concise rules on what is acceptable and not acceptable,” said trip advisor Kelly Rueckheim. “We make sure that students are never alone, they are in groups of three or more the entire trip.” He continued, “Statistically, the Dominican Republic is safer than any other large city in the U.S., like Chicago. I’m concerned that parents will be overly concerned.” Advisor Shelly Helland adds, “The people we work with are familiar with the community, meaning they are from that country. They are 100% knowledgeable about where to go, as well as safe places to go.” Helland continued, “The only concern we have is if our students will behave as they should. We prepare them a lot for ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ as far as travelling goes.” 

At that meeting, Rueckheim and Helland discussed the importance of keeping up-to-date with preparation, and to not wait until the last minute to get passport pictures taken for the trip. “My family and I are beginning to think about passport pictures, and are saving up extra spending money,” said senior Hanna Kohlmeier. Many other students have also begun their preparations for the trip. “I’m saving money from my paychecks and am starting to plan on what to pack,” said senior Sara Ziegler. 

The advisors are preparing just as much as the students are. “We meet and discuss what we want to talk about at the parent meetings,” said Rueckheim. “We have a series of meetings, we try to meet each month. We have two meetings with parents, one in November and one towards the end of the school year. I am in contact with the tour consultant for Education First tours. There’s a website in which they list out what to do and when to do it” said Helland. 

Aside from preparation and concerns, everyone is seemingly on the edge of their seats to go on the trip. “I am excited for snorkeling, and to see the animals and experience the culture of a Spanish-speaking country,” said Ziegler. In addition, the advisors are just as excited. “I think the things they will really enjoy the most will of course be the whitewater rafting, the snorkeling and other outdoor activities,” said Helland. “I’m also hoping they will get a lot out of the pottery, and getting involved with the people and the handicrafts.”  Rueckheim adds, “I know most of them will love whitewater rafting and possibly cultural experiences. The dancing will put them out of their comfort zone and will teach them culturally.”