Crosswinds’ Christian boarding school, Caribbean Mountain Academy (CMA), is located in the Dominican Republic in the beautiful city of Jarabacoa. With average year-round temperatures in the 70s, Jarabacoa has been nicknamed by visitors as “The City of Everlasting Spring.”
You may be wondering why it would be beneficial to send your struggling child to another country or perhaps you have safety concerns. As parents, we all want what’s best for our children, and at CMA we want that for your child as well. We hope you’ll get excited as we explore the advantages your teen could experience overseas.
In the United States, our culture is very “me-focused.” We have social media pages centered all around our individual lives; our younger generations, in particular, are obsessed with taking “selfies”; as a whole, Americans are generally known for being self-centered. The Dominican culture, in contrast, is very relational. There are many people who live in poverty, but their culture doesn’t center around material things. Dominicans are happy with very little. They may not have a lot of luxuries but they do have fulfilling close-knit communities.
This is a breath of fresh air for the students who were previously immersed in a culture that is hungry for this type of community. The teens get to meet locals like Maria, who lives in a one-to-two room cinder block house and is still joyful about life. People like Maria help our students see the world through new eyes, which also gives our teens a fresh perspective on their own struggles. Students are even more distanced from the American culture because they are provided an opportunity to be away from all technology and social media. Their only online presence is through locked web pages for school work and emails to parents. With the absence of social media distractions, students naturally gravitate toward building relationships with the people around them.
At Caribbean Mountain Academy, our students interact with the Dominican culture in several different ways:
The biggest differentiator of Caribbean Mountain Academy’s program is the service work within the local Dominican community. No other program has the access to the life changing missions work like CMA does. We host 400+ missions participants each year. These missions’ teams serve alongside our students and partner with countless Dominican pastors and community leaders to assist them in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the people around us. For most American teens who are very wealthy compared to the rest of the world, these opportunities provide a worldview shift, allowing them to learn and appreciate the blessings they have, and also how to use those blessings to help others!
In addition to service projects students have weekly activities that allow them to enjoy the Dominican Republic in a more relaxed or adventurous manor, such as:
Prospective parents often come to us with safety concerns. This is understandable. You care deeply for your child and you want to make sure they’re being taken care of. Rest assured, we want that for your child as well. Many parents have benefited from visiting campus before their student arrives. When these parents have seen the campus and the staff involvement, they’ve had fewer worries. For those parents who haven’t been able to see the program firsthand yet, these are some ways we ensure safety in our therapeutic boarding school.
Students are under 24/7 staff supervision. A staff member is always present with them both on and off campus, and there are night staff to provide supervision for students while they are asleep. Security cameras provide an extra layer of protection for the students. In addition, there is a local guard at the gate of the campus which helps CMA foster good relationships with the townspeople. This creates a sense of trust in the community and helps keep everyone safe.
“We are more rural, so like in the US, we don’t have as much crime. Like in the US, if you build good relationships with your neighbors, that also promotes safety. We have very good relationships with our neighbors because we serve them so well through all of our mission work. They want to make sure we’re protected and they want to make sure that we stay.” – Melissa McWilliams, Crosswinds Admission Director
The United States Embassy visits campus randomly to check up on the students and the program. They usually visit around four times per year. In addition, the Dominican Child Protection Services, called CONANI, also does random visits about four times per year. Both the US and Dominican governments want your child to be well cared for just like we do, so it is important for them to monitor our programming in this way.