Dominican Republic #6: “Unbreakable Bonds”

Lauren Smith ’24 and Xavier Aviles ’24, reflect on the strong bonds the group has created with the local community.

Lauren: Being in the Dominican Republic has been such an amazing experience so far. I have met so many amazing and welcoming people that it has made it easy for me to step outside my comfort zone. To start off, I am not a strong Spanish speaker, however as the days go by I am growing more and more confident to have conversations by myself with the local people. Our conversations are interesting and enjoyable, but if we can’t find the right words to continue communicating, we switch to playing games.

Today, we played tic tac toe and Pictionary with the mezcla we created. It was a fun and interactive way to bond with the workers. Later this afternoon, many people in the village all came to play baseball with us. I am not great at baseball, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try and hit a pitch from a recruited MLB star. While he did go easy on us, it was fun to watch everyone smile and laugh while playing a friendly game of baseball. Overall, I am so thankful for this experience and I look forward to the next days of finishing the house.

Xavier: “Yo guys, breakfast started ten minutes ago!” punctuated my sleep as I awoke for another day in the beautiful Dominican Republic. On the bus ride, I looked forward to the interactions that would occur later that morning with the other workers such as Jefri, Simon, and Pollo. I was not disappointed to say the least. During the time spent mixing cement and shoveling gravel into the cement mixer, we took sporadic breaks that were filled with jokes, laughter, and games. After one of these breaks, Jefri pulled me aside and says to me, “Tu eres me brother.” This short phrase has replayed in my head as I realized the impact we were having in the DR. In merely three days of work, we had created unbreakable bonds with people we would never have met if we weren’t accepted onto this amazing trip. Not only has this allowed me to be more grateful for those supporting me in and outside of Deerfield, but it has made me grateful for all of the opportunities I have had that others haven’t.