Estevez making a difference in Greenville and Dominican Republic
Published: May 24, 2023
Two years ago, Ivan Estevez, ’98 and current Greenville University softball coach, was elected to a seat on the Greenville City Council. At the time, he had no idea how that role would impact his life, though he knew it could put him in the hot seat for local issues related to the council’s actions.
In the spring of 2023, that position earned him another type of seat – one across a table from Luis Abinader, president of the Dominican Republic, at a conference called “Dominican Leaders in the U.S.” Abinader was asking Estevez questions and was listening to his responses.
“The president invited Dominican Republic citizens who live in the United States and hold political office here to attend the conference,” said Estevez (pictured at right with President Abinader). “He wants to make the Dominican Republic a better country, so he came up with the idea of bringing dual citizens back to talk about how we do things here and how his administration could better collaborate with the United States.”
That three-day conference involved presentations by several government officials and the president. It also allowed each of the 65 U.S. participants to share things they’re doing in their positions that may be instructive to Dominican Republic officials.
“This was the first time they have done this sort of conference,” said Estevez, who teaches Spanish at Greenville High School. “It was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had in my career. They genuinely want to do better in tourism and trade, and they want their political process to work more efficiently.
“It also was great to connect with other Dominican Republic natives who live in other parts of the U.S., particularly in New England,” he added. “There are more than three million Dominicans living in the U.S., many with dual citizenship.”
Dominican Republic roots
Born in the Dominican Republic, Estevez came to the United States in 1989 when he was in eighth grade. His family lived briefly in Massachusetts, but moved to Greenville when his mother was hired as a Spanish professor at then Greenville College. His older brother, Edwin, was a freshman at GC and Ivan was a freshman in high school.
“It was hard leaving my native country and learning a new language,” Estevez said. “But the people here made us feel comfortable and welcomed. We had learned about Greenville when we still lived in the Dominican Republic because groups from the college would come there for short-term mission trips and Spanish immersion experiences.”
The Greenville connection
After high school, he followed his older brother to GC, majoring in Spanish and education, and playing baseball on the college team. His first teaching position was in Mulberry Grove, where he taught Spanish and coached softball. He was hired by Greenville High School in 2002. In subsequent years, he started helping with the GU baseball and volleyball programs. Last year, he returned to softball as the GU assistant coach and then assumed the head coaching position during the 2022-23 academic year.
As he reflects on his trip to the Dominican Republic, Estevez (pictured at left) is thankful for the opportunity to assist his homeland.
“It was very humbling to meet with DR officials and talk about ways to help the people of that country,” he said. “But it also showed me that I can do things that impact our community here. I want to keep serving the people of Greenville, Illinois – whether that’s as a teacher, a coach, or through a public office. I want to keep pushing ahead, doing what I can to make a difference.”