|Shane McCarty and a few kids from Veron|
It’s hard to believe that we are back in Blacksburg. We departed the Punta Cana international airport on Sunday after we said our emotional goodbyes to our friends that we became so close with. The ten days that we were in the Dominican Republic flew by but I think that we can all agree they were some of the most memorable days of our lives. We finished up with two classes to present projects, have a test, and reflect on our service-learning experience. Which is a very unique way of ending a study abroad trip. Most of the time study abroad trips end after departing the airport but we got the opportunity to debrief and present our final projects to each other.
When I think back to our trip, there are two words that I think about: impact and appreciation. Of course there are many other words that describe our time in the Dominican Republic but these are the two words that come to my mind first.
First of all, we are all grateful to have gotten this opportunity. What a blessing to have people who worked so hard to make the trip possible and to be able to apply what we learned, and to teach it to others. Thank you so much Danny, Jon, Katie for working so hard to make this trip possible and taking time away from your families to come on the trip with us. I am thankful for the people that we met on this trip. Specially Victor, Julio, Kelito, Rido, Kenny and Ben. We all appreciated their inspiring attitudes and for all of their help. I also want to thank the other Peace Corps members who helped so much. We cannot thank the people enough who made this trip possible for all of us. I really appreciate Virginia Tech for their vision and commitment to service. Also thanks to Dr. Geller, Shane and Joanne for teaching and leading us. One thing that we sometimes take advantage is the choices that we have, opportunities and education. This trip made us realize how appreciative we are that we get to go to school.
|Cara's (back right) group during warm-ups before camp begins|
A favorite quote of mine, by Jackie Robinson, states: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." Inspiring someone is impacting somebody’s life. We made special connections with kids and with our DPV friends. Whether it was sharing our values, sports or even a hug it was a way of inspiring them. We could see a change in them and they seemed to feel a since of belonging as the week progressed. Not only did we impact their lives but the connections and the relationships that we made with them will always be a part of us and we will never forget them. Additionally, when we presented our final projects back in Blacksburg, others came to watch us present and it was inspiring to see that they felt moved and impacted by our experiences too.
It’s hard to consider that the children and the people that we met during the week might not get the same choices as us. It seems completely unfair but we have to realize that we have the tools and the opportunities to help them even in the smallest ways. This trip gave all of us hope that anything can be possible and we are all self-motivated, grateful and inspired to continue to make a difference.
I leave you with a final thought by Randy Paunch from The Last Lecture: “It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's about how to lead your life... If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.”