Insights From the Dominican Republic Trip

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by Christina Chwyl, Grade 11

The Dominican trip was definitely worth the 48 hours of travel there. Although the orphanage didn’t need our help for construction or building, we still kept busy by leading the neighborhood “campamento,” or playing with the kids at the orphanage. Despite the language barrier, we all found ways to communicate-whether playing catch, braiding hair, or singing ridiculously catchy camp songs.

Poverty in the Dominican is not obvious. Because they take great pride in appearance, clothing and cleanliness is never an indicator of poverty. Instead one sees poverty in more subtle ways. Kids on the street play with tires and makeshift shovels rather than balls. At camp kids pleaded to take books home, even for just a day. Even the local corner stores sell cups of rice for those with less stable incomes. The kids are incredibly smart and eager to learn, yet have so much less opportunity than we do. We hear it all the time: “be thankful for what you have.” This trip truly puts it into perspective.

Despite ample reason to be unhappy, the Dominican is the most fun and happy place I’ve been to. During the Dominican culture talk we heard a story about a woman that fell in the mud and dirtied her skirt. A local woman saw her fall, and gave her a skirt of her own to wear for the day. She washed the girl’s skirt, and gave it back to her the next day when she saw her walking by. It is this kind of open cheeriness that is especially contagious in the Dominican. Kids on the streets ran up to us for jumping high fives. Life, and music was everywhere-even in the middle of the night. In the neighborhood camp kids gave us bracelets right off their wrists, or drew pictures for us to take home. It is this openness that allowed us to really get to know the kids, and made the trip unforgettable.

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