Many people say “expect the unexpected” and today our delegation was able to testify to that statement. We started with an earlier than usual wake up call at six this morning. We had cereal and bananas for breakfast and later headed out for an unforgettable day. We all were surprised to find out last night that we would have the opportunity to see the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina. After breakfast we made our way to the Federación and anxiously waited on Medina’s arrival. We were recognized at the ceremony and had the chance to witness a life changing moment for the community. President Medina announced that he would give the Federación money for their community. Esteban, the leader of the Federación, expressed how much it meant to him for us to be present for that announcement. It felt good to have such a positive impact on the community. Not to mention, who doesn’t want to be in the same room as a president?!
Soon after, we had a delicious lunch provided by the Federación. Lunch consisted of rice, vegetables, and meat. Then it was crunch time for us. We went back to work on our Community Action Project. As you all know we decided to create a playground so that kids will have a safe place to play. Yesterday we spent a lot of time cleaning and bordering the area with tires. Today we painted those tires the colors of the Dominican flag: red, white, and blue. We also completed one of our tire swings with the help of some amazing community members. We started to dig holes for our bench and see-saw. We went back to our childhood as we made hand prints with paint on the tires and pillars bordering the park. It was cool to see everyone be creative and make our project unique. Due to the unexpected visit from the president, we had less time than we originally planned for. This only motivated us to work harder and give it our all. We also had a lack of resources which made the project even more challenging. We may have only had a few shovels and paint brushes but the power of commitment made it all possible. We did not completely finish our project but the work we started is incredible. As Esteban said, the hardest part of a job is starting it. As we were closing our day at the playground site, we got to share our appreciation for everyone involved. Esteban told us that we made such an incredible impact on the community. You could see his gratefulness just by looking in his eyes. It was a proud moment for our entire delegation to have been a part of something so beneficial for the community. It was also great to see some of the kids from the community playing on the tire swing as we left. Their faces lit up immediately and we knew at that moment that we left our mark.
Our trip is coming to a bittersweet end. We have had an amazing time here in the Dominican Republic. We have met many inspirational people, immersed ourselves in a new culture, and most importantly made a change. We can’t wait to see all of you soon!
-Alexis and Grace