Kean graduate affects change in the Dominican Republic

By Andrea Parr


When Kean University graduate Edyta Drobniewska and her fiancée traveled to the Dominican Republic in June they were eager to see the countryside during their stay.

It was then that she first encountered the discrepancies between life for those in a resort area and life not many see on vacation, that of the people who live below the poverty line.

During a tour off the resort Drobniewska was shown a school built by an older man in a region that was designated for 200 students. Although the structure had been completed, there were no students in attendance for any of the classes. The guide said that this was due to the poor economy in the region. The founder had lacked the additional funds required to afford the necessary supplies for the school to operate. Basic items many students in the United States have, such as books, pens, pencils, bags, and notebooks.

Edyta Drobniewska with two students.
Photo Credit: Edyta Drobniewska

“As a new teacher myself, it broke my heart to see children in need of an education and unable to get it due to things we take for granted in this country,” said Drobniewska, who graduated from Kean with a BA in early childhood education and a minor in psychology.

“As one of the leaders in a community service and activism group called Be the Change I decided to take action,” Drobniewska said.  She partnered with “Be the Change” with the goal of providing all 200 intended students with the necessary supplies for the school to open and students to begin attending.

The group gets its name from a famous saying by Gandhi. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Be the Change was formed in 2008 and is made up of students from Kean University as well as other volunteers.Drobniewska first joined the group after learning about it while taking Dr. Norma Bowes’ Death in Perspective class.

The school in the Dominican Republic.
Photo Credit: Edyta Drobniewska

According to the group’s website they are dedicated to serving the needs of the local, state, national and global community. Be the Change “believes in a hands-on approach and building partnerships to affect positive change.”

Past projects include the renovation of the Isaiah House teen shelter, helping after the gulf oil spill, food drives, toy drives, and the ongoing peanut butter and jelly project.

For Drobniewska’s project, donations were accepted through the Be the Change website beginning at the start of August and ending on August nineteenth, giving them plenty of time to send the supplies before the start of the school year.

At the end of the 19 days, Drobniewska and Be the Change were able to successfully meet their goal of gathering supplies for all 200 students.  The supplies they collected and sent to the school include books, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons and pencil cases; enough for each student. In addition, Kean University generously provided 200 string back bags for the students.

“An education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty,” said Drobniewska.  “Every child deserves to live a successful and happy life.”

Students interested in donating or seeking more information on Be the Change can access their website

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