A Discussion with Nicolette Almánzar, Student at St. Ignatius of Loyola Technical Institute, Dajabón, Dominican Republic
May 23, 2017
Background: As part of the Education and Social Justice Fellowship, in May 2017 undergraduate student Mary Breen interviewed Nicolette Almánzar, a student at St. Ignatius of Loyola Technical Institute (Instituto Tecnológico San Ignacio de Loyola, ITESIL) in Dajabón, Dominican Republic. Almánzar explains how the classes, opportunities, and values present in Jesuit education create an environment without discrimination and with a commitment to social justice.
How many years have you attended this school?
Before this school, where did you study?
I was at a different school that was also Catholic and led by a congregation of [religious] sisters.
Have you lived in Dajabón your whole life?
Can you tell me about your experience living at the border? Do any challenges or issues exist?
With respect to the challenges that are here at the border, there are limitations to getting some things. In general, it is not an urbanized city. It is limited. For example, there is not a McDonald’s here. If you want a hamburger, it is not possible. There are also some limits to education; for example, there is not an institute with English classes in an intensive manner. There is not a strong way to reinforce languages at all ages, and there are no bilingual schools.
What do you think is special or different about a Jesuit school?
The living together. I have been at other schools that were not Jesuit, and what is different is that here we are taught to love and to serve others and to be available always for others. We are taught to live together with God. At this school, for example, the education itself is very good. There is also a lot of respect.
From your experience, in practice how does Jesuit education influence life at the border here?
For example, many students are volunteers for poor children and people who do not have access to certain products. We make activities to raise money to help these people. We also do projects in class for human formation. For example, the professors say a current theme in the country, like the corruption, and we prepare an essay and present it. Our professors help us understand the outside world and in what way we can impact it.
What challenges have you seen surrounding the topic of immigration?
It is very complicated. It has changed under the different presidents. For example, President Danilo Medina has made a law to account for all of the immigrants here. People say these changes are because we are a racist country, especially at the border. However, every country has its norms and rules that need to be followed. There are people who are racist and discriminate, but we are not a racist country.
Do you think education plays a role in demonstrating that the country does not discriminate?
Yes, since here at the school we have Haitian students and there is not discrimination. There are many other schools where students from Haiti or other foreigners who do not have their papers are able to study here.