Trip leaders Sheryl Cabral and Genevieve Pitt sign off after an unforgettable week of service and community-building:
From the moment our ten students stepped off of the plane in Santo Domingo, they were fully committed to embracing everything that Cambiando Vidas and the Dominican Republic had to offer. They worked hard, spending long hours at the building site hauling concrete and blocks, shoveling dirt and painting walls. They also played hard, moving well beyond their comfort zones and through a language barrier to immerse themselves in the community during baseball games and trips to the river. They also thought hard; we asked each student to explore topics such as health, water, tourism, politics, and US involvement in the DR, and then present their findings to the team during our nightly meetings.
Our family of twelve continued to learn and reflect during our final moments in the DR, as we spent our last morning with Carolyn Rose-Avila, the Director of Save the Children in the Dominican Republic. After spending the week with a small, grassroots organization with a singular focus, it was interesting to hear what Carolyn and her team are doing to address issues such as high teenage pregnancy and high school dropout rates in the country. Our discussion with Carolyn and her husband motivated us to think broadly about how we can most effectively make an impact on this island we came to love, and we look forward to raising awareness in the Deerfield community beginning in September.
Thank you to the parents for sharing your children with us so early into the much-anticipated summer vacation. We very much value the relationships we built with them.
To the students, thank you for jumping into this experience with both feet. Most of all, we appreciate the fact that you handed over your cell phones upon arrival in the DR, and embraced the opportunity to get to know your teammates on a meaningful level. The thoughtful stories and praise that you shared about each other during our final dinner in Santo Domingo reflects how truly bonded you were as a group.
Finally, to Jose, the Cambiando Vidas team and the entire community, thank you for letting us into your world this week. You showed us what hard work really looks like, and how amazing things can be accomplished when personal gain is pushed aside for the common good. From you, we learned that one individual truly can change the world, and for this we are eternally grateful.
Two Down (inside joke),
Gen & Sheryl