Alumni Questionnaire ← Back to Index

Gil Mayersdorf:

What is your name?

Gil Mayersdorf

To which institutions were you sent?

Marion and then E.C.

How old were you?

17-20

When were you enrolled in The Program?

10/86 - 6/89

What was the highest level you attained?

4th

Please describe the circumstances that got you sent to The Program:

I hung out with the “wrong crowd,” and got in trouble with the law. My parents sent me overseas to another boarding school, but I had a lot of authority issues and was expelled from it. They sent me to NHYM when I was 17.

In which house(s) did you live?

I lived in Thomas and Huyck houses.

Please describe instances of abuse you experienced while in the program, if any:

One house father really liked to body slam students. He would take you out to the back patio where we hung the mops and proceed to throw you against them. Hitting a mop stick full force is not fun. The same house father liked to chase you uphill on his moped when you had to run “casitas,” which were assigned if you earned less than a 1 or 0 on your point sheet. It was a psychological thing; you knew the front tire was right behind you and might hit you.

When I was there about a year, two students ran away. They were caught by the local authorities and brought back to E.C. One evening the whole house was ordered to “deal” with these two students. The runaways were taken out of the Quiet Room and put in an empty room at the school. The dean of students told us he was closing the door and suggested we rough up the boys. We proceeded to beat them. The dean came in to stop us when they started to scream.

Another instance occurred when I was 19 and had already finished my studies, yet was kept in the Dominican Republic. The school administrator asked me to “deal” with a student that was in the Quiet Room. The student was having flashbacks from PCP and the staff wanted to give him a shower. We took him to the shower room and the staff gave him a floor brush to scrub himself. When he started to cry and refuse to do as he was told, the staff ordered me to beat him, which I did.

Describe abuse of other students you witnessed, if any:

I witnessed many instances of child abuse at Escuela Caribe, including public swats when students did not cooperate. This might seem trivial but it does affect children's emotional health.

Do you have any good memories of The Program? If so, what are they?

I have many good memories of my stay there. It is a beautiful country, and the people are very friendly. I always looked forward to house trips and free days.

What is your overall impression of The Program? Did it “help you”?

Well, the program did help me in certain areas. I learned to build healthy relationships, to respect authority and do what I am told. I also acquired a good work ethic that helped me in the job market.

What do you think of the quality of education you received?

The educational quality was basically poor. You read a chapter in your textbook and then answer the questions at the end. There was no preparation for ACT/SAT tests also. I figure the education was at a level of a GED or worse.

How old are you today?

35

Did you go to college after attending The Program? If so, what degrees do you have?

I went to college for about three weeks and then dropped out. I joined the military at the age of 26; it was better than college. I got a honorary degree in whooping butt from NHYM.

What is your profession?

I currently own an executive protection and security consulting company in Europe.

Do you consider yourself a Christian today?

I don't consider myself a Christian; I was raised a Jew.

What effect did “The Program” have on your faith?

The program really drove me away from “Christians.” As a Jew, I was disgusted by NHYM's attempts to pound religion into students' heads. When I asked to practice Judaism, I was told not to make an an issue of it, or it would get rough. These experiences really gave me a negative view of Christianity.

Please feel free to add comments here:

Some staff members learned we were creating this site to expose the abuse we experienced at NHYM. One staff member emailed me to say that “the program” had changed since the 80's and that NHYM needs to learn from its mistakes to improve. Sorry, but when you deal with children that's not good enough. Escuela Caribe is located in the Dominican Republic for a reason: the country does not have the same laws governing child welfare and academic institutions.

In the United States, you're legally an adult at age 18, able to make your own decisions, good or bad. Escuela Caribe can keep students in the Dominican Republic as long as they want, and I was kept there until age 20. The school's excuse was they wanted me to finish school. Well, almost 20 years later I consider this a kidnapping. My parents now agree that the school did not help me much; it institutionalized me. After I got back to the U.S., NHYM did nothing to help me acclimate to a normal life in the States.

Hopefully, one day NHYM will realize that caring for children is more important than the money they receive for the high tuition.

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