To round out the second afternoon in the Dominican Republic, SMBA ’17 visited an independent baseball program on the way to Najayo. Across the street from the buses where over fifty baseball players ranging from five to sixteen years old with the common dream of a future in Major League Baseball. The class had the opportunity to hear about the independent baseball program that is focused around hours of baseball practice and seeing its patrons succeed in the majors. After the overview of the program an eager group of MBA students accepted a game invitation and brought their grad school talent to the baseball field. A few innings full of livestock in the outfield, taunting from the Dominican players, and laughter from both sides later, the SMBA cohort gracefully exited the field and continued the trip to Najayo. Once they arrived and checked into their hotel, the students had dinner and time to dissect the day’s events as a cohort.
The following morning the SMBA ’17 enjoyed breakfast and were on their way to Liceo Mariano de Jesús Sabá, a high school funded and built by Baseball Cares. Baseball Cares is an initiative supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). The purpose of Baseball Cares is to develop and give back to the surrounding communities in the Dominican Republic through baseball.
Upon arrival, the class filed into the cafeteria area along with the students from the school. Through the chatter and simple conversations of, “Hello, what is your name?” rang, “Si pueden escuchar mi voz, aplaudan una vez,” followed by a chorus of clapping. SMBA ’17 then learned about the school, the classes, the faculty, and were welcomed by a few star students in front of the group. After the introductions the group was divided into two teams, one assigned to planting trees around the basketball court and the other assigned to painting a mural on the outer wall of the school. The two tasks were eventually completed despite periodic breaks for hand games, songs, and dance lessons. Following some pickup basketball, both groups headed back inside for a lunch break.
After lunch the SMBA students and the high school students were pitted against each other in a series of Dominican school games. The rest of the afternoon was spent in competitions of sack races, various races, and a new version of volleyball. The day that SMBA spent at Liceo Mariano de Jesús Sabá was much more than community service projects, it served as a day to interact with the community and learn about the lives of students in the DR. These students have defied all odds to get to high school and were incredibly joyful and ready to share their culture and lives with the students. SMBA ’17 was honored to share the day with the students and drove back to the hotel tired and content, ready for what the trip would bring next.