Masters Welcomes Exchange Students From El Carmen School

At Morning Meeting, Gregory Diaz certainly felt the love from the Masters’ student body.

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The eleventh grade student visiting from the Dominican Republic had just finished performing traditional bachata and mangulina dances with his classmates and received a rousing standing ovation.

“That made me feel very good because it's not every place where you receive this kind of love, and I loved it,” he said.

Diaz and nine classmates along with two school counselors from El Carmen School in Santo Domingo spent a busy, fun-filled week on the Masters campus: taking classes in Latin, French, Spanish, visual arts, and engineering, drawing and design; immersing themselves in dance and sports; and sightseeing in New York City.

Upper school Spanish teacher Roberto Mercedes, who organized the visit, has been grateful for the welcoming Masters community: “I think this exchange experience and the exchange program makes our School a better school because it's an opportunity to explore diversity and put into practice our School’s mission statement.”

Dean of Global Studies Robert Fish taught a special class that introduced the students to Harkness discussions. “Today we spoke about what their observations were about Masters, about New York, about the United States, similarities and differences with the Dominican Republic, with Masters and their school,” he explained. “And they had some real deep discussions about differences about gender, clothing, dress code and the way the schools operate. I actually learned from them in that discussion.”

Keira Burgos ’24, an Advanced Topics in Spanish Language student, hosted El Carmen student Naomi Cáceres at her home. “She lived in Spain for a few years and then the Dominican Republic so it was lovely to see her fresh perspective,” Burgos said. “We had so much fun baking cakes, cooking mangu tres golpes (a traditional Dominican dish made with plantains and eggs), and dancing to modern American and Spanish music.”

Samantha Weber ’25 welcomed fellow junior Yenny Garcia into her home. “I have spent my sophomore and junior spring breaks on cultural immersion and educational trips through Masters, and I have come to truly appreciate the value of having experiences in other countries,” she said. “I was excited to be able to engage with Dominican culture again, including gaining more exposure to Spanish.”

As the El Carmen students got ready for their farewell party hosted by the Latinos Unidos club, Garcia reminisced about the delicious fried chicken and pasta in the dining hall and how she enjoyed learning how to play squash. “Everyone has been very nice. I think it's such a different experience from where we live in the Dominican Republic — the campus, the people, the food. It’s been amazing to have the opportunity to be here.”

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