Alumni Questionnaire ← Back to Index
What is your name?
To which institutions were you sent?
MWA (Canada) and CVS (EC/Dominican Republic)
How old were you?
12 when I entered, and I left a month before my 14th birthday
When were you enrolled in The Program?
June-ish 2000 to New Years 2002
What was the highest level you attained?
1st level at Escuela Caribe (for two weeks) 2nd step at MWA
Please describe the circumstances that got you sent to The Program:
I have a very strong personality, and I was unable to control my arguing skill; My mother found me emotionally overpowering. Twice I ran away from home to escape the tension between me and my parents. Despite my consistently high test scores, my grades at school plummeted because I did not hand in any homework.
In which house(s) did you live?
Faul cabin at MWA. In the DR, Thomas House until mid-2001, Huyck House until I went home.
Please describe instances of abuse you experienced while in the program, if any:
- I was belittled for not being emotionally mature (I was only 12 years old when I entered The Program) and was subjected to excessive swats, physical restraint, and periods in the Quiet Room.
- I became very ill and was not taken seriously when I complained of severe abdominal pain. One Tuesday morning I vomited on the floor next to my bed; I'd also vomited in the toilet the night before. My housefather accused me of gagging myself to get out of work and claimed that a high-ranker heard me make gagging noises. Despite having puked twice and feeling feverish (although my temperature was never taken) I was forced to go to work.
After about 15 minutes, it was obvious that something was wrong with me, and I was allowed to return to the house to rest. I fell asleep fully clothed and slept like a rock until the late evening.
Over the next couple of weeks I had recurring diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Although I showed clear symptoms of giardiasis - probably contracted from the school's unsanitary water supply - my housefather continued to accuse me of malingering.
Eventually the school nurse took me to a local doctor who took urine and bile samples from me; I tested positive for giardia. Nevertheless, my housefather still berated me for feeling sick and expected me to do the same workload as before.
- I was on &ldquot;bucket support.&rdquot; While I was at EC, it took me a &ldquot;long&rdquot; time to relieve my bowels and the staff accused me of dawdling in the bathroom. At first the staff timed me whenever I used the restroom, but when my timing didn't improve, they put me on &ldquot;bucket support.&rdquot; This meant I had to urinate and defecate in a bucket and show the contents to a high-ranker who verified that I had indeed needed to relieve myself.
At first bucket support was only at the house. To avoid the humiliation of excreting in a bucket, I held my BMs until I was at school. But the Home Life Director caught on to my ruse and gave me bucket support at school as well. The next morning, I couldn't bear the shame of using bucket, so I used the toilet as I'd been doing. Afterward, I was promptly ushered to the Home Life Director's office for swats.
The next day I held it for 24 hours and became extremely constipated. My house mother gave me a laxative and my housefather allowed me to use the toilet. Not surprisingly (maybe making up for lost time?), I took too long - or he didn't give me enough time - so he put me back on bucket support.
The day I got sick from the giardia infestation, I was supposed to being doing &ldquot;Restitution.&rdquot; Here's what that means: If you broke something at the school, you had to pay to replace it. If you didn't have the money, you had to work on your free day to earn it.
Students on zero level didn't earn money for their daily work. On subsequent levels, you earned less than US minimum wage.
Everyone had to work a certain number of hours a week, regardless of whether they were paid or not. There was little/no distinction for age, physical ability, or skill. If you didn't accrue enough hours, or forgot to mark down your hours, then you were CHARGED for the amount of work you failed to do. If you didn't have the money, then you had to work restitution. I think the money went into the house slush fund (for free days, etc.).
Working restitution had relatively good pay: ten pesos an hour (~60 cents) instead of one peso an hour (~6 cents) for a first level student. Having been on zero level for almost the entire 16 months I was with NHYM, I rarely had the luxury of being paid.
The day my dad picked me up to leave the Program, my housefather at Huyck House reminded me that I owed over 1700 pesos (over $100, at the time) of outstanding restitution to Thomas House and suggested my father write a check for the amount. I smiled/nodded, while thinking YEAH RIGHT! There was no way he could force me or my father to do anything, anyway.
In my description of Restitution, I made various RD peso to US dollar conversions. While in the program, students are never told the exchange rate and students who inadvertently find out what it is are STRICTLY FORBIDDEN from discussing it or informing other students of it.
Describe abuse of other students you witnessed, if any:
Another male student was sexually molested by his housefather. The housefather was not fired, but was instead moved to a new position, as a landscaper, in which he would not interact with students on a regular basis. The housefather quit soon afterwards.
Do you have any good memories of The Program? If so, what are they?
The weather was nice most of the time. I had a decent relationship with some of the staff members. The free days were fun, on the rare occasion that I actually went on them. I love building things and telling people about helping with building projects down there. Telling horror stories can be fun too.
What is your overall impression of The Program? Did it “help you”?
It gave me some of what I needed, though not in the ideal medium. I learned to be much more agreeable. I learned to appreciate keeping a clean house (even if I have to hire someone else to do it for me) and I learned to appreciate manual labor (in moderation).
What do you think of the quality of education you received?
When I was at Escuela Caribe, I should have been in 7th grade. A couple of the staff kids were the same age as me; they attended the Jarabacoa Christian School, an English-speaking grade school run by NHYM. Because I was a student, I was given the Escuela Caribe's sorry excuse for eighth grade materials. The next school year, when I was supposed to be in eighth grade, I had already exhausted the school's eighth grade resources. At the same time, the eighth grade staff kids were moved onto the main campus and treated to an entirely new group-style curriculum which had conveniently just made it past Customs, replacing the early 1980s textbooks and independent study courses that I had taken the previous year.
How old are you today?
Did you go to college after attending The Program? If so, what degrees do you have?
I graduated high school in July of 2006, and I have not yet begun college.
What is your profession?
Independent Computer Consultant and Website Developer
Do you consider yourself a Christian today?
I am a communicant member of the Anglican church and attend church regularly. However, I consider myself nonreligious.
What effect did “The Program” have on your faith?
For two years afterward, I continued to be the conservative Evangelical Protestant that the school indoctrinated me to be. Now, one Jesuit school and several Catholic religious studies classes later, I am actually finding my own identity.
Please feel free to add comments here:
I do not hate New Horizons or its staff, and I am not angry at my parents for sending me there. Rather, I resent how ill-prepared for life The Program made me. I learned to effectively curtail any real emotions, to just smile and keep going. I gained no real life skills at New Horizons, learning instead to plod along and ignore the absolute mess in which I put myself.
Three years after leaving Escuela Caribe, I crashed: I was expelled from my Prep school and had to swallow my ego and accept how badly things were actually going. Fortunately I have been able to start pulling things back together, and I received my high school diploma just a month and a half behind schedule.
I want other troubled teens and their parents to learn from the mistakes of my family: New Horizons is not an appropriate environment for any child. If New Horizons is unable to prevent their clients from being abuse on their watch, then they should not be offering the services that they do.
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