Alumni Questionnaire ← Back to Index
What is your name?
To which institutions were you sent?
The D.R. (Escuela Caribe)
How old were you?
17, left when I was 18
When were you enrolled in The Program?
May 19th of '05 till July 31st of '06
What was the highest level you attained?
Please describe the circumstances that got you sent to The Program:
Drug and alcohol abuse, major depression, a failing relationship with the family, emotional distress, anger, identity distress, dropped out of school, poor relationships, etc...
In which house(s) did you live?
Hyuck for 12 months and then Lance for 3 months during the summer program.
Please describe instances of abuse you experienced while in the program, if any:
I donít know if abuse is the best term, but I experience a lot of things I didnít like. For example, I felt like some of the staff members went on major power trips. They would put themselves so highly above the other students, maybe to establish some kind of authority, that it made me feel worthless and small. These staff members would sometimes generalize the students, thinking that we all lied, could all handle the physical exercise and work at its fullest extent, or that we really understood why we were placed in the program, and that we were simply ignoring or hiding the fact. I am, and was, in pretty good shape, but there were things I sometimes couldnít do, and I felt like some staff members would push me way past the point of exhaustion. I smoked a lot before coming to escuela caribe, and to have me run three casitas in a day, up hill in 90 degree weather, when my lungs were hardly used to walking a mile was pretty harsh. Towards the end though I felt I could do most of what they asked. There were times when I was telling the truth or trying to explain myself but I was given no opportunity to explain and I was simply assumed as lying. A few staff members, my counselor included, often made me feel like if I didnít admit to things (which may or may not have been true) about my past, then I was hiding something. I felt like I had to force relationships, admit mistakes, know and love God... basically say and do all the right and required things in order to go home. For a school which stresses honesty, humbleness, servitude and understanding so much, I felt that some staff members did a HORRIBLE job at living out these characteristics. Also, I am a Christian now, but the school forced the idea upon me a lot, almost in an abusive way, making Christianity seem unattractive. The reason I am a Christian is because I had love and support from my house parents and a few staff members, who did not force Christianity upon me, and because I realized that I couldnít survive in the program or out of it without the help of God. I believe that people make mistakes, God doesnít. My argument and anger is not towards the program or what it stands for, it is only towards a few individuals who worked at the program, some of who have already quit or been fired.
Describe abuse of other students you witnessed, if any:
The things I listed above correspond with other students as well. I did hear excessive yelling towards other students, something I did not experience much of myself also.
Do you have any good memories of The Program? If so, what are they?
I have lots of good memories, mostly involving my house parents and a few friends I made. My house father Todd was funny, understanding, and fair. He was a great guy, always willing to listen to me and he encouraged me in my walk with God. Also, some of my teachers did a great deal in investing in me, and were very loving and fair. Mostly though my relationship with my housemother got me through each day. Melissa was extremely loving, she cared about me, we built a great relationship on our own terms and she encouraged me and was totally real with me all the time. She actually came to stay with me and my family a week ago. There were times where we could travel the island, I learned lots of life skills, I learned how to persevere through something no matter what it takes, and I came to know God.
What is your overall impression of The Program? Did it “help you”?
The program did help. Some of the people didnít help, but as a whole, the structure and setup (which is considerably less and very different than it used to be) was good for me. I needed a kick in the ass. It helped me to graduate high school on time, kick bad habits, get clean, rebuild a relationship with my family, with God, and I met some great people. The individual counseling did not help at all.
What do you think of the quality of education you received?
It was great, I learned a ton. I had really good teachers, and they were very graceful on work, giving lots of opportunities to complete it.
How old are you today?
Did you go to college after attending The Program? If so, what degrees do you have?
I am currently in college at Columbia International University. It is a Christian college, one I learned of from its members visiting the program. I am going to major in Physiology and Bible, and minor in youth ministry. Eventually I will be getting a masters degree in counseling.
What is your profession?
Do you consider yourself a Christian today?
Yes, but on my own terms, not because the program stuffed it down my throat, but because of Gods grace and the love I was shown by other Christians.
What effect did “The Program” have on your faith?
I realized that God is not in a formula, you can't fake a relationship with Him or do or say all the right things in order to excel with God. He does not put you on a point sheet, and he does not judge your character based upon preconceived ideas of your past. God shows grace and loves us and longs for us while we are in the pit. People in the program made me feel like I had to lie in order to grow in relationship with certain people, and made me feel like I had to be better before I could gain any love from certain people.
Please feel free to add comments here:
Like I said before, the program has a good goal, and it is currently directed by Jeff Seabrooke who was always fair and understanding and relaxed and graceful. There were simply a few staff members who went on power trips, showed no grace, contradicted the very morals they sought to instill into the students, and left me with a bad taste for. Escuela Caribe is not the problem, they are the problem. I think it is childish to hate an institution, but it is rational and reasonable to feel hate towards individuals.