Friday, March 10, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #7 Santo Domingo

Our last stop in Santo Domingo was the National Aquarium. I am not a fan of places where animals are kept in captivity; but this aquarium has a lot to offer. Their rehabilitation program strives to rescue, care for, and release animals back to their natural habitats. The aquarium grounds are also the home of free roaming rhinoceros iguanas who apparently enjoy human company.  The kids ate Popsicles while one of the iguanas came to visit.
One of my favorite parts of the aquarium was the outdoor exhibits. The kids favorite part was the marine-themed playground. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #6 Santo Domingo

We spent a wonderful time at Museo Trampolín.  It is a children's museum located in the colonial zone.  It has dinosaurs, earthquake simulators, replicas of the local ecosystems, a miniature town, and many more exhibits. The kids and I truly enjoy museums with employees to guide us through the experience or answer our questions. The guides at Trampolín were friendly and very professional.  We learned about Domincan history and its society, energy sources,  the human body, the impact of pollution, and the importance of recycling. It was very educational and fun!

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #5 Santo Domingo

In the middle of Santo Domingo, we found an incredible gem.  The Three Eyes National Park .(click here for a video) It has three "Ojos" (eyes: or covered lagoons), and an open lake.  The eyes are "Azufre" (blue one), "Dama" (lady because it is the smallest one), and "Nevera" (fridge since it is always cold).  Between all these underground caves and lagoons, we found fish, turtles, beehives, and birds. The kids particularly enjoyed the raft that took us from the three lagoons to the open lake (see last picture).  It is well preserved, very clean, and amazingly cheap to visit.  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #4 Santo Domingo

If you are headed to Santo Domingo with kids, there is a wonderful interactive experience waiting for them.  The place is called Peképolis. It is an educational park where they can take on many roles: T.V news anchor, veterinarian, pediatrician, chef, firefighter, consumer, archaeologists, police officer, detective...etc.  It is very similar to Divercity in Colombia with a few additional community worker stations.  The kids got to pick jobs, and earned money by performing tasks.  Our kids loved it.  I would love one of these museums here in Illinois.  
Each of the different stations, like the bank, or ice cream parlor, gives the kids a chance to interact with a guide and learn a little bit about the trade. The kids took care of babies, and rescued treasures all while learning and having fun!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #3 Santo Domingo

Since the Dominican Republic has so much more than beautiful beaches, we moved for a few days to the capital, Santo Domingo, to soak up some culture. Santo Domingo is one of the oldest cities in the Americas. In fact, it has the first paved street in the new world! The government and private sponsors have done a marvelous job at restoring, and preserving the original colonial buildings. 
The colonial zone feels like a museum in which we were able to walk and learn. 
Pictures above:
1. Statues of the founding fathers: Sanchez, Duarte, and Mella.
2. Plaza leading to entrance to the pedestrian street "el Conde."
3. Parque Colón and Cathedral.
4. National Pantheon
5 and 6. Fortaleza (fort) Ozama
7. Plaza de España y Alcazar de Colón
8. Calle el Conde.
Note: I am putting all the pictures in one post, but it took us several days to explore the colonial zone. 
Check out UNESCO's webpage :

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #2 Punta Cana

While in Punta Cana, we visited the ecological reserve Ojos Indígenas (Indigenous Eyes).  The Native Dominicans, Tainos, named the crystal-clear fresh water lagoons "ojos" (eyes).  
The kids were able to walk in the subtropical forest, and jump in three of the lagoons. As you can see in the last picture, the fauna and flora are very active in the area.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic #1 Punta Cana

I can't believe it has been so long since we got back home from the Dominican Republic. I love it when the kids and I share memories by reading their journal entries. They are very good at capturing details with their drawings, and summarizing their experiences.   Above you can see both of them drew the same coconut tree from the last picture.  I am pretty sure it is the most photographed tree in Playa Blanca. 

Life at home has been rather busy.  I have become involved with our small town government.  I have been participating during village board meetings, and got a spot on the Community Relations Committee.
To clarify, I don't plan on becoming a politician, I am just a concerned citizen. After the presidential election, I discovered that it is not enough to just vote.  I deeply feel that we need to be active, and support one another. As a citizen I have a right to vote, and a responsibility to be informed and involved. 
Besides that, I was recently trained to tutor English as a Second language to immigrants in my area.  I am deeply toucedh by the amount of people that participated in the training who are willing to help as volunteers. I was also tutored by volunteers when I came to this country.  I was able to not only function in society, but to have the opportunity to receive a merit scholarship to go to college.  The volunteers helped me get the skills to open doors.  I hope to help my student open the doors to achieve her goals. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Vacation Learning: Dominican Republic Happy 2017

On December 31st we were on our way out of town. Our plan was to welcome the new year in a warm place. 
Good Bye Chicago...

Hello, Punta Cana!

Happy New Year! 
Wishing everyone a wonderful 2017!