Cheque Garcia, Back2Back staff, watched Robinson* struggle as he looked at the multiplication tables in front of him. The young boy’s brow furrowed, not fully comprehending what he was supposed to do.
Robinson, a 10-year old boy who attends an education center in the Dominican Republic, is learning at a 2nd grade level. “The Education Center is a school program for children who can’t attend traditional school,” shared Cheque. “Many of the children are here undcoumented from Haiti or their parents can’t afford the school fees to send their children. Jubilee Education Center offers an alternative education, but it runs like a normal school.” Children are evaluated in the beginning on their knowledge and comprehension, and then the center’s first goals are to teach Spanish, math, science, and basic cultural norms.
“Many of the students and families don’t have citizenship, and the center does a lot of work to assist them as they need it,” explained Cheque. The D.R. ‘s national language is Spanish, however many families arrive speaking Creole or French, so language classes are a necessity.
Robinson lives with his single mother who works long hours to provide for her and her son. The center reached out early on, encouraging her to send Robinson, so he could get an education and not be alone during the day. Robinson, a very energetic boy, struggles to remain focused and learn in traditional ways. He spends a lot of time with Cheque and Leah, another Back2Back staff member, at the center.
“Robinson is easily discouraged,” explained Cheque. “He is often a target of teasing because he is not learning at a 10-year old’s grade level.” Cheque worked hard to keep him focused, and then discovered he and Robinson had something in common – a love of music.
“Robinson is capable of learning, just in a less traditional way,” shared Cheque. That was the moment beat boxing became an integral part of Robinson’s math lessons. Cheque beat boxed, and Robinson started to put his multiplication tables to the beat Cheque created for him.
“After 35 minutes, Robinson memorized the multiplication tables he needed to,” shared Cheque. “We are grateful to be working at the Jubilee Education Center, because it gives children unique opportunities to learn.”
This is what advocacy, prayer, and staff support look like for children and staff in the Dominican Republic -diligently learning how to best communicate with each child, and spending their time teaching them in their own unique way.