Cris Goes to College
I met Cris in the Dominican Republic in 2002. I was a teenager at the time and had joined my church mission trip traveling to Pantoja, DR where we worked doing construction.
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Cris was a young boy at the time, I believe he was 7 years old. We worked hand in hand throughout the mission trip. Passing blocks, playing games, etc. We formed a friendship that has continued to grow over the last 16 years!
As Cris grew older, he would walk to the local internet cafe where he would sign in online and teach himself English. Cris's English was so great, that when he was old enough, he began volunteering as a translator and mission host to American groups who came to serve with Foundation for Peace. All the while, he graduated high school and then went on to college in Santo Domingo.
Through the encouragement of many American group members, Cris applied to and was accepted into college in America. He currently attends Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. Even with the current scholarships he has been awarded, he will still need $8,000 to attend school in the Fall.
Cris came from nothing. He was raised by his mom Carmen, a single mother. Their home is built of recycled wood and corrugated tin. They have a dirt floor and cook outside. Electricity is sparse. Internet is non-existent. Pantoja is a rough neighborhood with little to no opportunities for young people to obtain an education past grade school. To witness how far Cris has come is amazing. His drive and perseverance is moving. Throughout his education in America, he volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity and more.
His education has been made possible through the donations of many Americans with whom he worked with and hosted in the DR. This upcoming Fall will be his final push. He worked hard in order to graduate a semester early. He has not been home to Pantoja nor seen his family in almost four years. At just 24 years of age, he has accomplished so much. I want so badly to see his worry about fundraising for this final semester off his shoulders so he can focus on his final semester of school and enjoy it like so many fortunate American students have been able to. This would give him the opportunity to do so!
If you visit, the website for Foundation for Peace (foundationforpeace.org), you can learn about the organization through which Cris worked as a translator. Cris's internal drive for education and success is unparalleled. He has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. I can't wait to see what he does next!