[This post was originally written in 2012. I added content today.]
In 2009, I did what all 22 year old girls facing a premature quarter life crisis does: go to a foreign country alone.
I had always wanted to volunteer my time and do something meaningful and memorable but could never think of exactly when, where, how or what it was I wanted to do. So when speakers from International Student Volunteers gave a presentation during my World History lecture at CSUS, I thought – why not? After undergoing the application process, getting accepted and finding the funds to make this trip happen, I freaked out. Am I really doing this? I hope I don’t get stuck rooming with a crazy. I can’t even speak Spanish, how am I supposed to teach these kids? What if I get kidnapped and sold into prostitution? Who will be MY Liam Neeson?! (I had just watched Taken, obviously.)
Honestly, I don’t remember anything from the journey to the airport, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was numbed by fear and anxiety. What I do remember though, is meeting some of my fellow volunteers at the Miami airport and feeling lucky I wasn’t one of the few unfortunate ones whose luggage was lost on the flight over. Another flight and a four hour bus ride later, we made it to our home, Rancho Campeche. During my weeks there, my team built a basketball court for the community and spent time in the local school teaching basic English, math, geography, sciences and health education to children and provided a creative learning environment through music, dance, arts and crafts. The experience wasn’t all work though, our free weekend consisted of cave exploring, dance lessons and beer. Lots of beer.
My only regret of that trip was not staying an extra two weeks for the adventure tour. Luckily, I had my bunk make / twin / Sill / partner in crime with me for the travel back home. I may have not went on the adventure tour, but Popsicle Stick Kimberly did, and she had a blast. My trip to the Dominican has been the most humbling and rewarding experience of my life. I came home with a fresh perspective, new friends from all over the world and seven pounds lighter. So thank you, premature quarter life crisis, you pushed me into an experience I will never forget.
I was looking through old pictures and came across photos from my trip to the Dominican. I wanted to share my favorite photos that I felt truly captured the emotions of this trip. As I look back on what I wrote nearly 2 years ago, I can see how I have changed. When I originally wrote this post, I had a more light hearted, almost joking, tone. A reason for this was that though I wanted to share my experience, there are certain parts of it that are incredibly special to me. So special that I wanted to keep them to myself. There were moments on that trip that touched my heart in ways nothing else has or possibly can and I want to keep that as personal and private as possible. Because I don’t feel as though I can accurately put into words the emotions I felt, I decided pictures would be the best way to do so. I hope you enjoy!