Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Almost two years ago, I went to the Dominican Republic. It was there I changed. I would say that it was a mini-mission experience. As I was looking up things to include in my resume for business school, I came upon this document. After our internship, it was required that we had to write a reflection paper to get a grade. I really thought about this, and I wrote from my heart. Forgive the typos, the grammar is a mess, the punctuation is horrific, but my feelings remain ever the same. I read this at work, and I cried. I miss that place. I miss the feelings.

As I take a moment and reflect upon this trip, I realized how alive and different human-beings are. I honestly had no idea what was in store for me when I embarked on this journey. When I first left, I was terrified, I did not want to be leaving the comforts of my home and go to a place that I had never been to before, with people that I could hardly communicate with! I got off the plane and I was drenched with sweat, I was seriously doubting if I could even do this.
As time progressed, and I got to get into the swing of things, I started to fall in love with the Dominican culture and people. At the beginning of the trip, everyone I talked to said that the Dominicans are some of the most loving people, this was something that I got to experience first hand. They have to little, yet are willing to share anything. They are some of the happiest people alive. Their happiness really got me thinking about my happiness. Here I was, complaining about how I was not going to know anyone and how I was in a different environment, and the people were very loving and caring.
The first week of being in the D.R. was probably one of the most trying. I had to get used to the language, not flushing things down the toilet, the heat, the humidity, walking everywhere. It was so hard.
When the first week of classes started, I was in shock. I thought my Spanish was manageable, but being with the kids showed me otherwise. They seemed to be speaking a million miles a minute! I was very discouraged and didn’t think that I was going to be able to do it. But, I was in the pool 24/7 and I wasn’t going to get hot in the water! One instance that really stood out to me was when I was teaching my swim lessons was when I got stuck explaining something to the kids. The words would not come and I looked like a fool. But, the kids did not make fun of me, or laugh, they sat there patiently and wanted to help me explain to them what I was struggling with. This made my heart swell because they wanted to learn so much that they were being so patient with me.
I also gained a greater appreciation of all the church members in the Dominican Republic. Living in utah, it is so easy to go to church. Chapels are a 30 min drive away, and the temple is a mere 15 or so minutes from where I live. The closest chapel for us, was about an hour away, and it was in a guagua. The temple was 5 hours away. The spirit in the chapels is so strong, and love radiates from the members when they say hi to you. Things are not perfect where they are, but they love the gospel so much that they are willing to do almost anything for their faith. That made me really re-evaluate my commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It made me realize that I should really be grateful where I am, and the blessings that I take for granted.
As camp progressed, I really came to fall in love with the children that I was teaching. I was also saddened by the fact of how much of the world that they knew. One girl was getting ready to get in the pool, and she starts taking here clothes off and asks, “Am I like a stripper?” That made me really sad because she was only about 10 years old. Another instance was when I was singing a song for swimming lessons and it was like, “A las escaleras, vamos a la fiesta”, and little boy interjected with “para beber cerveza!” I began asking him why he said that, and he responded with, “I’ve had it before, and it’s good.” He is only about 11. These children are having to grow up faster than kids here in the states.
Another thing that struck me was how these children as so willing and wanting to learn. I went to the beach with a couple of the kids that I taught, and they immediately got in the water and started yelling to me, “MIRA! MIRA!” They started showing me all of the strokes that I had taught them. This made the greatest impact on me. I thought that I wasn’t really making a difference, because it was only swimming. I wasn’t teaching something like reading or writing, but, the fact that they were learning and were able to remember what I had taught them, made me realize that all of the work and all the time I had spent preparing lessons was not wasted. This was greater realized when the kids from La Cienaga came to the pool. They had to earn their time for the pool, and didn’t have pool time every week like the DREAM kids did. When they came to the pool, their eyes lit up and they were so excited to get in. The thing that struck me was that when they got in, I prepared games and things for them to play, but none of them wanted to play. They all wanted to learn how to swim a stroke. I thought that was the most touching because they did not want to play games. 

I will miss la bandera. I will miss being so close to the ocean. I will miss the kids.
I will not miss not being able to flush things down the toilet, the humidity, the mosquitos, being scared to walk everywhere, motoconchos, hissing to get peoples attention.

This trip definitely has made me realize how much I have, and that I have the power to help people. It was an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.


No comments:

Post a Comment