ME: I am passionate about social justice and history and the context in which we travel around the world. I started my business in the Dominican Republic when I realized that the tourists that really needed to hear what I had to say, for the most part really just wanted to be on vacation. That’s when I developed Una Vaina Bien Spanish-a Spanish language program that would have the social justice and historical focus I really wanted to give my students using a vehicle folks understood they had a need for (Spanish instruction).
MC: I’m not a business person, I’m a dreamer and an idealist and a leftist who believes that in an ideal world currency and money wouldn’t be necessary. It was difficult at first because I never thought I wanted to be a business owner-I also struggled at the beginning to be paid what I think my time is worth. I got caught up in thinking that because I lived in a third world nation I shouldn’t be paid as much as I was when my neighbours were being paid so little until I realized that what I really wanted was for my neighbours to make as much money as me and me barely scraping by wasn’t going to do anything about that. So now, I take the money I am paid and the time with my students to encourage students to advocate for better wages for the workers that serve them-whether they be surf instructors, waiters, the folks cleaning their hotel rooms, etc. and why it’s so important.
MC: I would say I learn a lot from my community-the people who don’t make as much money as I do because the more money I make the farther removed I am from the reality of my people. They help to keep me humble and remind me that there is work to be done, and just because I’m more comfortable doesn’t mean I don’t still have a responsibility. I take my cues about what to teach my students from the people who live this experience every single day.
ME: I would love to see my business expand to a place where I could only teach history and cultural classes and have someone else do the Spanish which I am good at but not as passionate about and in doing so help someone else make a higher wage. I would also love to help connect my clients to other local people’s services so they can also get paid a livable wage.