The Words of the Wiesner Family

GPA-Power in the Dominican Republic

Matthias Wiesner
March 2014
Administrator of Colegio la Union

Moving a truckload of sand

With the arrival on January 29 of twenty-six motivated second-generation Unificationists from the Generation Peace program who had come to invest their effort and talent in serving our school project in Santiago, Dominican Republic, the heavenly calendar year 2014 started on a strong note. This was the second time that the school, Colegio la Union, has received support from second- generation members from the United States.

They came as part of their one-year training, which focuses on inculcating spiritual values and doing community service projects. Most of the older second- generation Dominican members wanted to join the volunteers activities, because this was a great opportunity to meet young people of our church from the U.S. Unfortunately not all of them could do the service projects, but after Sunday service everyone above thirteen years of age was invited to go out for an excursion equipped with their swim suits.

While various parts of America were experiencing heavy snowstorms at that time, we could enjoy the beautiful weather and visit our famous twenty- seven waterfalls. The waterfalls are special because they are just high enough to slide down, making them a natural, long waterslide.

Keeping several dozen determined young people continually involved in meaningful activities while the normal school schedule had to be carried out challenged our school staff.

Creating a mural for the basketball court

We had prepared a number of service projects -- building a basketball court on an empty plot of land that we recently purchased, painting and repairing 150 desks for the school, painting a long mural near the basketball court, painting another mural by the school's main gate and on the front wall and conducting art classes for students in the first through twelfth grades. We had also planned a sports day for students from the fifth grade up. On top of this, we had plenty of extra work to do in our school library, erecting six book shelves, stamping books and putting them into order.

To our surprise we found that each of the GPA students had carried toys for our kindergarten in their luggage. Even a big dollhouse arrived, donated by one mother. At the handover ceremony it felt better than Christmas. What a joy and surprise for our small ones!

Proud art class teachers

Most of our school children come from the poorer sector of our city and very few foreigners come to this part of town. On the third day we asked the older students from our school if they wanted to join the GPA group in painting school desks. To our surprise everybody wanted to come. We had to choose ten students by lottery.

Painting and working together became a natural way for them to communicate and get to know each other. Interestingly, most of the GPA participants are half Japanese and for some both their parents are Japanese. That was a new aspect for our students, a new type of American. Naturally they wanted to know also more about Japan and the Japanese Language. One student got so exited having learned one Japanese word, "Konichiwa." He started jumping around and greeting everybody he saw, "Konichiwa, Konichiwa, Konichiwa... Art classes were another great way to meet the students and communicate, making crowns, necklaces, braces, little animals and playing games.

The tough brothers and quite a few tough sisters demonstrated their power when creating the basketball court. They leveled the ground, building a new wall and breaking down an old wall. During this activity one of the smallest sisters surprised all of us. She was watching one of the big brothers who was breaking down a wall, hit by hit with a big hammer. At one point she asked if she also could have try. Everybody found this was funny, but Okay, why not let her have a try. She put on protective glasses, put on gloves and with both hands grabbed the hammer and started hitting the wall as if she had been doing it all her life. She stopped a few times, but then continued until she had removed a big chunk of the wall. That was a lesson to us -- never underestimate a small person.

We all were very much moved by their hard-working spirit and positive attitudes. It wasn't easy to work for four straight hours under the burning sun without a single source of shade, but despite the very difficult circumstances they never complained.

The final group photo after accomplishing the mission

Looking at all the young people giving their best, creating beautiful murals, leveling the ground, painting the desks, giving art classes, building walls, putting up bookshelves, stamping books in the library -- everybody tried to invest in improving something. I was wondering, Isn't that how the heavenly kingdom should be? If all the young people had this attitude and commitment, our community would change within a week, in the same way that our school actually did change within a week, through the power and dedication of CPA students.

Thanks to all the dedicated staffers and participants. Thank you to our local coordinator change within a week, through the power and the dedication of the CPA students. Thank you for choosing the Dominican Republic and bringing so many blessings to our school.

The whole school and community were very excited at seeing so many young foreigners working as volunteers at our school. The students were excited to speak in English with the volunteers and seeing white people was unusual. A week of interaction concluded with a day where the students could play sport with the GPA members and everyone could get to know one another. GPA brought back the spirit of excitement, energy, youth, and the hope that our school will prosper. We are very grateful to have gotten to know each one of them. We wish to thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their great work and the sacrifices made in coming to the Dominican Republic.

Thank you so much for choosing Dominican Republic. We love you and hope to see you next year again! 

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