Today is officially two full weeks of being back in the states and I must admit that it was hard readjusting. Spending three weeks in the DR was definitely a task but it was all worth it. I made some long lasting friendships and learned many things about not only myself but my culture that only this trip would’ve helped me realized.
Picture number 1 was our last day at the service site with the kids. On this day the kids had no idea that this would be the last time they would be hanging out with us. All the participants were very emotional because as the program was coming to a close we all realized our impermanent impact on their community. Even if it was for only three hours a day we helped these kids forget about their potential home situations and helped them just be kids. At this moment we all realized how we privileged we were and how these kids really made us see things differently.
Picture number 2 was taken on our first excursion to Saona Island. What was so special about this was the fact that this is where everyone started to let loose and make friends. I think we all knew that if we stayed reserved at this beautiful place, we wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. So we all branched out and talked to different people and just had a very relaxing day at the beach. This is where we all spent realized we would make some amazing friends who we would be friends long after the program ends.
Picture number 3 was us enjoying the food we made in our Dominican cooking class. One significant thing I remember from this was the fact that everyone was saying when they go back to the states they will make this for their family and friends. I think this cooking class was the first time we knew we would take something away (culturally) from this trip. Especially since the class was taught by two sisters who had a passion for cooking. We loved the food we made and we knew this was something we would always remember.
In the beginning I was a very shy person and I kept to myself a lot. This trip definitely pushed me way out of my comfort zone. But I realized that it wasn’t always a bad thing. Only because I knew if I went far enough, I would have to adjust. I branched out and pushed myself which is something I wouldn’t normally do but it gave me some amazing friendships. The DR is nothing like America and I never really knew that until I went there. I am definitely now more opened minded due to the fact that I lived like a Dominican and faced the challenges they did. Before my plane even landed in the DR my assumptions were different from the reality. And this is when I realized that I shouldn’t of had a judgement of their country. Their country was obviously going to be different from ours and I now know I can’t make judgments and expect it to be what I had envisioned.
In the beginning of my three weeks I was scared. I was scared of some of the things our program leaders warned us about. I was sometimes afraid to walk to the CIEE center with my roommate or even go out after class one day. But as time grew on I wasn’t scared anymore because I felt how warm hearted the Dominican people were. And their kindness just made this feel more like home. If I could sum up this trip in one word it would be “real.” Most of this trip was facing reality. I didn’t know the issues they faced until I went and had to experience them myself. I didn’t know about the the poverty that blankets the city or the homeless people occasionally digging in the trash or the lack of cleanliness. It was something I had to see first hand. This trip was such an amazing experience and everyday since I’ve been home I’ve been thinking about how much I want to go back.