Celebrating a Dominican Republic Holiday in Rantoul Illinois

Greenheart recently connected with Meriolys, a Dominican Republic teacher, currently in Rantoul, Illinois teaching kindergarten and elementary school. Meriolys is here with Greenheart Exchange’s Teach USA program. She shared Dominican Republic holiday traditions with her students and tells us about the day here, along with her impressions of teaching in the USA.


What got you interested in coming to the USA to teach?
As a bilingual teacher in the Dominican Republic, I wanted to see the differences and similarities of teaching in the USA. Greenheart Exchange was recommended to me.

How is teaching in the USA different from teaching back home?
It is way different!!! Kids are provided with many opportunities and resources to learn, so the environment is better; and the staff is very integrated for the success of all students.

What has been the most challenging thing about teaching here?
I love challenges. I can say that one of the most challenging things was getting adapted to all the assessments required to evaluate the students.


What has been your most proud moment teaching here so far?
The most proud moments for me? I have a split class K/1 and they have all reached their own goals. Plus, I have built a community–and they loved THE PARRANDA and learned all the Dominican Christmas Songs.

Tell us more about the Parranda and the cultural activity for Christmas with the students.
I performed a presentation sharing Dominican Republic culture and traditions of Christmas and Three Kings Day. This includes DR hot chocolate and candies, traditional music and dances, a Dominican Parrandas around the school–visiting every classroom, making decorations and writing a letter to the Three Kings, and a surprise visit from the Three Kings on January 6.

What did they children like most? Did you get a lot of questions?
They enjoyed singing, learning the meaning of the songs, the rhythm, and the surprise they received that day. Some of the questions! How far is the Dominican Republic from Rantoul? Can we eat the Banana Christmas Tree? Why do you have Baby Jesus under your Christmas Tree? Are his parents alive? If we write a letter to the Three Kings, will we receive a gift too? They wanted to travel to the Dominican Republic–and they asked me if they could go with me someday. They also came the next day telling me that they got permission to travel with me. 🙂 I enjoyed their smiles–that was glorious!


What advice would you give to someone considering applying to the Teach USA program?
I would tell them to trust Greenheart, and join the team to add this experience to their lives.


Thank you Meriolys for sharing your story and your traditions!

Greenheart Exchange’s Teach USA program connects enthusiastic, highly-qualified international teachers with U.S. host schools. The purpose of the program is to promote cultural interaction and enhance mutual understanding and diplomacy. Participating teachers are placed in K-12th grade host schools for 1-3 years and teach a wide range of subjects like Special Education and World Languages. During their program, teachers sharpen their professional skills and take part in cross-cultural activities within their schools and local communities. This immerses the teacher in the American way of life–and introduces young minds to a world of ideas.

If you are interested in participating in the Teach USA program, please start here.

If you are a school who would like more information about hosting an international teacher in your school or district, you can learn more here.