Now that I am home everyone keps asking me about the experience and the one word I keep using is AMAZING! Mere words cannot express the impact being in the country had on me. Many of the people, things I saw and experiences could be related to my own culture. One thing in particular was the resourcefulness of the people; this is an attribute I admire about African Americans, we may not always have a lot but you do the best with what you can. For example the Sugar Cane man used an old fan face as a grill to roast his corn, similarly my family in the south will use old refrigerator shelves as grills to cook outdoors. There were also plenty of things I could not relate to which made me realize that they are still people in need.
They are not in need of handouts or people who are looking to assimilate them; they are happy people and I honestly think Americans could learn a few things from them. I even think a few of my peers could have learned a thing or two but unfortunately they had a vacation mindest often treating the people like novelty items instead of soaking in what the culture had to offer us. In my personal opinion I believe what the communities would benefit from most are skills and education to help them thrive in thier environment and resources to guide them if they choose to explore other parts of the world. I saw this need being fulfilled the most at the Mariposas Foundation, a NGO focused on helping girls continue their education and teaching them skills to create a sustainable life in the Dominican Republic. This program is working toward ending genrational curses and making leaders out of young women so genrations after will have role models. A part of me hopes that a similar program will become available for young men.
I cannot thank all of the people who shared small bits of thier lives with me enough especially the family who took me in and fed me daily and the spanish teacher who took my friends and I under wing while we were there. I have already decided that I will return to Caberete soon, hopefully after graduation to contribute what I can to the programs at the Mariposas Foundation.
Another big thanks goes to our trip chaperones for putting this amazing opportunity together and all the people who gave donations or anything to ensure I could be apart of this program!
"It is not how much we give but how much love we put into giving"
~An adventurer with a heart of thanksgiving is signing off!