Alumni Questionnaire ← Back to Index
What is your name?
To which institutions were you sent?
Escuela Caribe for 15 months and Marion for two days
How old were you?
When were you enrolled in The Program?
February 15, 1990 - May 19, 1991
What was the highest level you attained?
Please describe the circumstances that got you sent to The Program:
We had family problems that weren't being solved in my parent's eyes. I had emotional blow-ups, tantrums, slamming doors, back talk, isolation and giving them the silent treatment. However, I got along great at school, and hung out with church kids. I didn't party and I never ran away. One night things got so bad between my dad and I that I snuck out to go spend the night with a friend. I then called my mom and told her what I had done, and that I was ok. I went to school and work the next day and walked home. I think that's when they talked to Kristen Schor's parents about the program and started the process on sending me there. But my friends, teachers, pediatrician and I will never really understand why or how. My pediatrician called my mom the night before I left and objected to what she was doing.
In which house(s) did you live?
Starr for three months and then TKB for a year.
Please describe instances of abuse you experienced while in the program, if any:
I was grabbed by the throat and thrown against the wall by a relief housefather, who was also the program director. I was forced by another house father to do push ups until I could no longer hold myself in push up position. At that point, I still had to try, but my arms gave out every time I pushed up, so I fell continuously until I got a hematoma on my left hip. I was continuously slapped on my 2nd degree sunburned back while doing pushups and was told I had gotten the sunburn because I had an authority problem. (It was considered an athority problem by some to get a sunburn because we were told to protect ourselves properly.) He also kicked my legs out from under me while I was in push up position one time. That house father would give me excercises and would threaten to take me down to the boys houses to let them see me do my pushups or squat thrusts. He also would toy with me about taking my parent visits away from me while I was doing push ups. All this for being late washing dishes. Or not hearing him when I asked him if I could step out back. One morning I woke up to find a different housefather staring at me. He wasn't supposed to be there, back in our dormitory.
Describe abuse of other students you witnessed, if any:
I heard so much abuse that I did not see. Screams of agony coming from the director's office were something that we had to learn to block out. I also saw the walls and shutters shake, so I knew a student was getting thrown around. One time I saw one of my housefathers force a girl to urinate on herself by refusing to let her go to the bathroom for hours, and then called everybody together and told her to “stop grimmacing”. So finally she just couldn't take it anymore and was forced to humilated herself in front of every one. I also saw this housefather sleep in between two of the girls in our house when we had a “slumber party” one night.
Do you have any good memories of The Program? If so, what are they?
I remember the beautiful view from TKB. I loved the hike up the pine forest and the view up there and the blackberries we could pick up there. I loved the fry stand in Jarabacoa where we would eat, and I loved the Dominican people. I liked Christmas down there. I like service projects. I liked retreat. I liked all school free days. I liked all the natural beauty of the country like all the waterfalls and swimming holes that we would go to.
What is your overall impression of The Program? Did it “help you”?
The program is a cult. It would be considered a cult by both secular and Christian means. It distorts the Bible greatly, and uses mind control and deception form its own society. They manipulate the parents and they manipulate the minds and hearts of their students. No, “THE PROGRAM” did not help me one bit. GOD helped me in spite of what the program did to me. I learned about what not to take for granted and how another part of the world lives, and to be greatful and humble, but the program didn't teach me that, God showed me that. The program was abusive and self seeking. The staff that really don't see that way are duped.
What do you think of the quality of education you received?
Just as high as the quality as the textbooks were. I taught myself. Except for three good math teachers. Thank goodness for them. But as far as history and english goes, I'd say just average. Science-a joke. I think they had the same pickled fish that they would disect over and over, but I could be wrong. And this was all on your own-no teacher present.
How old are you today?
Did you go to college after attending The Program? If so, what degrees do you have?
Yes. I don't have a degree yet.
What is your profession?
I work for an industrial engineering staffing agency.
Do you consider yourself a Christian today?
What effect did “The Program” have on your faith?
It tested it. I think I came close to doubting God sometimes, but I questioned more, and prayed more, and I think ultimately, I became more spiritual through that experience. I had some heart to heart talks with God, and he really pulled me through. I feel, looking back, I can see the face of God in those magnificent Dominican Sunsets and think “God is NOT who these people say he is, God is who he says he is”
Please feel free to add comments here:
Parents, please don't send your child here. There are worse places out there. Don't send them there either, but once you send them overseas to this place, you and your child have turned over all your power to a dangerous entity. They can warp and twist your child's mind for years to come. Some children even think they support the program while they are there and after they leave, but it is just a part of the cult syndrome. Everything is timed and graded, even using the bathroom! You are not allowed to whisper, or even think! If you are caught staring off in space your points are affected. You must agree with them and write letters that they will like in order to move up and get out. At first it's just an act, but then you do it so much that you start to believe it, and you become a robot. When you leave you don't know who you are or what you believe and you are thrown back in American culture. Even Marion, Indiana isn't the real world. It's a little commune in the middle of nowhere. This is not a program to prepare anyone for healthy, wholesome living. It is just an abusive cult.