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Notes from the Dominican Republic, Part II

A group of students, faculty and staff are participating in a service learning project in the Dominican Republic, from May 21-June 6, 2012. They are working with an organization called Caminante, and completing projects in both nursing and teaching.

The group is maintaining a blog as they participate in this journey. Below are a few excerpts; follow their blog, Walking with Caminante.

May 23, 2012

Day 2 and 3: Chelsea’s Reflections: The children’s selflessness is very shocking. … While passing out supplies during a craft, several little girls stopped participating to help me hand out supplies. From what I could tell, one child was asking other students if they had everything they needed. … The main thing I will be taking back with me to Ohio is this sense of welcoming and love that I do not ever want to forget.

A particular event that made me want to write on this topic is that one little girl in particular and I really connected over the three days. On a previous day, we had handed out silly bands as a prize at the end of our lesson. The next day, after being in Los Cocos for around 10 minutes, she ran straight up to me, hugged me, and with the cutest smile ever, proudly handed over her silly band. I naturally began to insist she keep it and initiated putting back on her little wrist. She put her hand up and smiled, so I accepted her gift (she got it back later.) It just really amazed me how this little girl, who seemingly has nothing materialistic in her possession, wanted to give me, some woman she barely knows and cannot communicate with, her one special accessory. I have seen this open, accepting, happy love, that I haven’t experienced before. The closest thing I can compare it to is hospitality I’ve been lucky enough to receive at home, but it was never from a child. She reminded me how important it is to give and show others how appreciative and grateful you are. I wish I could thank her.

May 24, 2012

Day 4: Sylvia’s Reflections: On our way to Los Cocos that morning, the van was stopped due to a worrisome sight. There was a young girl, probably around the age of 3, she was crying and it appeared as if she was lost. Cristina and Yocasta jumped out of the vehicle in order to help the young girl. …  Eventually, a woman came over and told (us) that she would take the girl back to her mother who apparently lived further up the street. Such an event truly makes one question, where is the mother? Does she care about her child? For a child that young to walk so far away from home without having her mother realizing it is baffling. This struck me very deeply because I know that when I was young, if I wandered 3 feet away from my mother, she immediately began looking for me. Yocasta told the woman to warn the girl’s mother that her daughter can be taken if another incident like that happened. I am happy to know that there are people like Yocasta out there, fighting for the protection of children.

June 1, 2012

Day 12: Kimberly’s Reflections: In the morning, the nursing team and the education team both taught in La K today. It was our first time in this classroom and it turned out to be a rough day for us. There (were) only a couple small rooms and barely enough desks. The desks that they did have were all broken with missing backs and sometimes missing legs. Alyssa and I taught our lesson on Children’s Rights. We read them one of our stories which is about having the right to express your opinions and ideas. In the story, the character George, talks about how he held a strike against a school until they got enough desks and chairs for all of the students, because not only do you have the right to an education, but you have the right to a GOOD education. The children in La K agreed with the story and they started requesting that they get more chairs, because of the kids that were standing in the  back. (So a few of the students that were sitting actually went next door and brought a few more chairs in for their standing classmates.)  It was really touching to see them learning from our stories and recognizing that they are entitled to these rights no matter who they are. I hope that they continue standing up for themselves and demand the best education that they can get. This area that we were in is apparently really prone to child violence, so I hope that they also took from our lesson that they have the right to not be harmed. The biggest thing that these kids need to do is learn their rights and stand up for themselves.

In the afternoon, Alyssa and I got to teach our Children’s Rights lesson again, but this time at Monte Rey. We had a group of mothers this time instead of children. … We then went into Kelcie’s lesson on feelings. We asked each mother what they were feeling and most said happy or proud. There was one woman who said she was sad, but she wouldn’t share why with us and another woman said she was in love. She made it clear though that she wasn’t in love with someone, but rather she was in love with her life and herself. She said she was blessed to have a wonderful family. It still amazes me that these people have rough lives compared to us in the U.S. and they have less money, but they still love their lives. They are some of the happiest and generous people that you’ll ever meet. … At the end of the lesson, Caminante arrived and did a little Mother’s Day celebration for the mothers, which was a perfect ending to our lesson. These mothers work so hard to take care of their family and they should be appreciated for it. …

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