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Our school, our stories – Mountain School in the Dominican Republic

A school community is not just a building. It’s the various individuals and groups who are invested in the welfare and vitality of the school, for example, the neighborhoods and municipalities.

In partnership with RNT Rausch GmbH, Acronis Cyber Foundation started constructing a first-class educational center in Los Maranitos, in March 2020. The new center will benefit the whole community by offering coed programs and access to classes for all community members. 

Mrs Dottie Nölting visited the school in July 2021, after months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dottie grew up in the Dominican Republic and shared with us insights into how an initiative like this can impact the lives of students and teachers, and the community.

(ACF) How does it feel to finally be able to visit the school after months of delay due to the COVID-19 situation?

(DN) When traveling abroad from Europe, you realize how much schools look and are built differs between countries. From our West European perspective, the school at first seemed different and kind of unfinished, even though about 85% was already built. Only some school materials and benches were missing. But I have to say it’s a lovely place. Very idyllic and lively.

(ACF) What first caught your eye? What was most impressive, and what do you remember most?  

(DN) The first thing I saw was sinks that were located outside. And I remember thinking to myself and wondering why the sinks were out. Patricia, the Head of our NGO partner, showed me around, and it’s a fascinating concept with the composting toilets! Apart from that, the architecture and its connection with nature is very striking. The students are taught about nature. As you can tell, their curriculum is not based on typical subjects such as Maths, German, or Music. Instead, they use a more playful and down-to-earth approach. That can also sometimes mean that students learn how coffee plantations work or how to grow things.

(ACF) How do you feel while conversing with the community? What do they think about the new school?

(DN) Everyone seemed very nervous, enthusiastic, and joyful. The students are aged between 4 and 16 years old, and enjoy each other’s company. Their open approach to learning creates a more positive aptitude rather than having students think, “oh no, I have to go to school”. Instead, everyone is excited to learn new things. Additionally, I got a very warm welcome. I truly enjoyed my time there. Everyone was super interested in learning more about Germany: where is it located, the language and it led to all of us counting up to 10 together. That was one of the highlights.

(ACF) How did you get to the school? Is it very isolated? What is the daily commute like for the students? 

(DN) The journey by car was pretty okay until the last three kilometers. Although it was very hilly and winding, I have to say I was delighted that it was dry and not raining. If the roads were muddy, the journey would have been fun and needed lots of patience. The kids will find it an adventure to commute to school when it rains. Luckily most of them don’t live too far away.

(ACF) How do you think the new school will impact the lives of the children and the community?

(DN) Everyone is thrilled and excited. I think that the school is a true gift and enriches the community. I had a conversation with a school neighbour, and he told me how fascinated he has been by the school and the children. For a small region, the school is precious, and it creates opportunities. When you see the kids having fun in their learning, you know that this initiative and all its work involved has been worth it. Even my uncle, who lives very far away, said he’d have loved to come and visit the school. It does have a significant impact, and everyone knows and values it.

(ACF) What led you to choose education as your priority since there are many other causes you can contribute?

(DN) I am from the Dominican Republic, and I know the country’s socio-economic issues, especially the education system’s tension between private schools and government schools. That is why I’ve always told my husband that he has to act when the possibility opens up. There are so many reasons students quit school or don’t even get the opportunity to receive an education; so much potential is lost. Sometimes schools are way too far away, or girls marry and get pregnant at a young age.

I was raised in a family of teachers, and the topic of education is close to my heart. That’s why RNT chose to contribute to the education and saw a great opportunity with the right partners to open the Los Maranitos school.

(ACF) Could you describe the school and the location in three words?

(DN) Humane, amazing, empathetic, welcoming. Okay, that was one too many!

Our sincere thanks to Mrs Dottie Nölting for visiting the school, bringing cheer to the community and sharing her experience. 

RNT Rausch and Acronis Cyber Foundation are looking forward to the school’s official opening in June 2022. Stay tuned!


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