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Recrear Participación is an interactive workshop providing young people with the tools to develop their ideas and passion into sustainable community projects. Recrear Participación was piloted between July 10th and July 25th, 2011 in two, separate, week-long workshops in the Dominican Republic in Esperanza and Santiago.  Recrear Participación encourages participants to engage more pro-actively with their community and to think critically about their communitys challenges while exploring innovative ways to address them. Interested in how the workshops went? We invite you to read our final report!

RecrearParticipacion has been a dense and powerful learning experience for us. We found it really hard to sum up our wonderful time in the DR and we thought pictures could help – so here is our attempt. 

Kevin in the Batey

Lead by the children of the Batey Libertad Community in Esperanza, we were shown around the community from the homes, football pitch, crop fields, latrines and communal meet areas. We grew to deeply appreciate the hospitality shown by the families there.

Batey Tour

This picture was taken during our first visit of Batey Libertad. After a tour of the rice field we stopped for some story telling and to lower the motoconchos-generated adrenaline. We were able to chat with some of the young adults in the community and to understand more about their life, challenges and habits.


Cherie, also known as the great escape artist, was more often than not a mess maker. Yet despite the attention she demanded we could not imagine the Esperanza home without her. She was in many ways an equally important part of the honorary Recrear-Yspaniola team.

Project Planning

Even the simplest of exercises bring about paramount discussions, and this exercise on identifying objectives was no exception. Through a process of brainstorming, voting and coalescing of similar ideas – groups reached an exciting consensus.  With the project objectives and strategies in mind, each group moves towards the more challenging task of placing those initiatives on a 6 month time line.

Our night out dancing at Batey Libertad

This picture was taken during an unforgettable night out dancing at Batey Libartad. After a long dinner and some good Dominican Coffee at the Yspaniola house, we rode on motoconchos and were welcomed by the warmth of the Batey community. The second ‘dance floor’ for the night was in a dark alley. A car drove up as I was pushing my camera’s ISO in an attempt to capture the energy of the night – this is what came out of it. 

Mario and Luis doing the SWOT

Mario and Luis brainstorming on an exercise to develop their project, Fútbol para el Futuro, ‘Football for the Future’. After having agreed on the project’s objective, the SWOT helped identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of their project idea. Mario and Luis informally organize football games in their communities in Batey Libertad and Esperanza. During Recrear Participacion they had the opportunity to work together and discuss how to coordinate their efforts and utilize football as a means of integrating their two communities.

Fútbol para el Futuro

In Esperanza we worked with two teams developing proposals focused respectively on music and football as empowerment and community building tools. In this photo the Fútbol para el Futuro team just completed an exercise to define their 3 objectives and is showcasing its work.

Football for the Future

The sports development group took their idea to the streets as the team warmed up, stretched and ran together.


A group of participants sticks around the Yspaniola house after session for a domino tournament.  During our time in Esperanza we learned that Domino is not a joke. To play it right it requires a balance between concentration, intensity and silliness. There is no small talking involved, but the silence is broken by the sound of dominos hitting the table.

Recrear Participacion Santiago

This picture gives a good sense of the vibe in the air during our workshop in Santiago. The group was energetic and ambitious. We worked in an overcrowded space and sweat a lot, but the room was always filled with positive energy and lots of engaging discussions.

Exercise in Santiago

An exercise centered around the importance of communication and goal setting energizes the Santiago group in the middle of Parque Duarte. The game was a fun way to get each group thinking practically about their capacity to realize their goal.

A remarkable group of individuals whom inspire through their committed work with the Batey community in Esperanza. Their generous hospitality and willingness to share their world with us allowed for Recrear’s project delivery to be that much more powerful.


4) There Is More Than the Obvious Way to Communicate

How do you communicate when . .

living in a Spanish – Creole – French speaking environment. Even just speaking “Spanish” means something different here: where you are expected to drop your s’s, shorten your words and talk as if all one word. Just when you think you are beginning to discern one word from another you are thrown into an environment of Creole speakers with a broken Spanish (far better than our own of course) and maybe some rudimentary French. So here we go again, attempting to start a sentence off in Spanish and throughout the communication struggle wind up in French only to wonder if anything was understood at all.

It’s at that point that the theatre geek in me would kick in. Body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, music and dance: all ways of expressing a message – and in my personal opinion a lot more fun. As we learn to slow our words and stretch the elasticity in our face we begin to embrace the Jim Carrey in us and find a way to make ourselves understood. In desperate times when even your face is unyielding, you take center stage and with a John Cleese-esque demeanour shamelessly act out what you have been trying to say. All the while an addition of colourful voice tonality and just a pinch of word stresses make for really interest conversation – au non-traditional style. If all fails, of course you can also resort to song and dance (even though I myself have always preferred this form of communication as a point of departure). These are universal languages that we all know and when you are able to carelessly move around the room to the beat of a song around people you know little about – then it is the most beautiful form of interacting there is. So whether it was doing music therapy with the group – assisted by two dynamic and talented individuals or re-energizing through song and dance exercises with our eyes closed – it has been refreshing to connect at a more profound level.

So although our Spanish-Creole-French has improved since our time here – our ability to use the purest forms of communication has proved the most useful. It has been wonderfully endearing to see people come to life by engaging them in this way. It has also be an incredible experience for us in appreciating the volumes that can be communicated without speaking at all.

Ultimately it’s all about capitalizing on our commonalities and remembering that somehow through the differences I can smile at someone and they understand the symbolism of that act.

Kirsten Williams

Since our time here, we have spoken much of what is in an ‘idea’ and by extension a ‘project’. The misconception is that projects are resource exhaustive and grandiose. In truth they can be – but those projects do not often become the sustainable ones nor the type of projects that in fact promote capacity building. One of the single most important messages we can communicate is that projects are exactly what you make of them. There is so much you can do with so little. They will never become that overarching vision until you take the decision to stick to your idea through thick and thin.

In theory just as much as in practice, projects are for anyone and everyone – there are no conditions. Projects after all stem from ideas – and if ideas are in fact “free” as our colleague Gioel would say, then who can be stopped from realizing those ideas into projects? Our ideas are truly a gift when you view them as the basis to your individual development tool kit.

Yet there is another side to this discussion of project realization – that is breaking a culture of dependency and expectations particularly rampant in developing countries. This idea that projects are so vulnerable to being stopped or diminished because they are illogically tied to external donors is dangerous. The external funds we receive today we cannot count on tomorrow. International Development is one of the most volatile industries (oh yes, industries) and so we ought to think about how to break the culture of dependency by promoting local capacity development and not dependence. I say this not to imply that developing countries should not knock on doors outside of their borders – but rather to encourage that they explore resources, potential collaboration within their own communities first. We may not all be in agreement about the governments that run each nation however we ought to recognize that they do in fact have a role to play. The Paris Declaration in favour of vesting power principally with the government is interesting but that idea cannot stand alone. We need to be far more welcoming towards the idea of collaboration between NGO’s, governments and private sector actors. That way certain ideals can ring truer and we can begin to “Speak of freedom as an overall good and leave to each nation the task of selecting the specific capabilities its constitutional structure will protect” (Amartya Sen)


Kirsten Williams


Only my second blog since being in Esperanza – I think that is testament to the lack of time we have had to really reflect on our experience here with the projects. Otherwise, trust me; you would have a novel in your hand rather than these few others. All digressions aside; wow!

Since we first landed in Esperanza, it has been nothing but mental picture moments. Whether riding the motoconchos to the Batey Libertad, touring and learning more about the community, walking through the fields of all things natural on a fair weathered road or taking my laptop to work on a rocking chair while a familiar breeze blew by. Most awe- inspiring of all however is being an observer to how youth from the community in Esperanza and the Batey Libertad were actively working together to reach common goals. Besides the more talked about distinction between Haitians and Dominicans – there is a difference between recent Haitian immigrants and those who have called theDominican Republictheir home for a few generations. Learning to see beyond the surface is never a simple exercise but the most practical thing we can attempt to do while we are here.

Working with these groups have re-energized my pursuit for finding innovative ways to do development. I strongly believe in mechanism such as sports for development (as done by world street football, right to play, etc), development theatre, and music for development. The football group we have worked with has afforded me some wonderful perspective on why this sport plays such a key role in their lives. The symbolism of the sport is far reaching and aims to address the neglect that could lead to the detriment of a young and bright individual’s future. Seeing the small instance of young Dominicans and Haitians working together to promote the project’s objective was a welcomed dynamic and certainly touched a smile to my face.

Equally inspiring – the music group also demonstrated how music has and continues to be a powerful tool for unity. By creating music ‘without discrimination’ they intend to include rather than divide the different cultures. By employing Spanish and Creole they are evoking the kind of multicultural society they very much want to feel a part of, but for whatever reason, have not been able to connect to.

I have thought a lot about the notion of ‘home’, ‘identity’, and what it means to belong my whole life. Many of those who I have met since my short stay here feel neither here nor there. As if in some of limbo – they are stuck feeling not a part of the country they were born into as much as they feel disconnected to their country of origin. Despite everything – I am not here to judge but simply to observe and learn from what life has taught every individual I meet.


Kirsten Williams

We are very glad to announce that the University of New Orleans (UNO) will be our partner during Recrear Participación.

The workshop will be taking place in New Orleans from June 28th to July 9th, 2011 at UNO.

Recrear believes in creating collaborations and synergies between young people around the world. Joining the workshop in New Orleans, you will be charged a fee of 60 dollars which will enable Recrear to cover the costs of delivering the same project in the Dominican Republic.

We are now opening the registration for 60 motivated and energetic students from all disciplines age 18-24.

If you are interested in joining us, you can register here.

Apply today! Applications close on June 20th!

To read more about Recrear, visit

We look forward to meeting you in New Orleans!

Welcome to the blog of Recrear Participación!

This blog will keep you updated on our progress with the organizing and delivering the workshop this summer.

Recrear Participación is a two week simulation workshop launched by Recrear this summer with two pilot projects which will serve as a launch for what will become a sustainable signature project for Recrear globally.

The project will be delivered in:

  • New Orleans, USA: June 28th to July 9th, 2011;
  • Dominican Republic: July 12th to July 26th, 2011.

The workshop will impart 60 students from diverse academic backgrounds with the necessary tools for building a community based project. The simulation game will include project management training and teamwork. Recrear-Participación will provide an opportunity for students to:

  • Understand the basic principles of developing, managing and implementing sustainable projects;
  • Learn how to effectively work in teams;
  • Familiarize themselves with presentation software (Power Point and Prezi);
  • Build leadership skills;
  • Have fun!

Moreover, students will be encouraged to:

  • Engage more pro-actively with their community;
  • Think critically about their community’s challenges and explore innovative ways to address them.