Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pictures are coming!

While we have hundreds of pictures that we could share, due to internet challenges, we were unable to load them at this time.  We are working on that, so please check back to hear about how the camp progresses and see some sights of San Juan de la Maguana!

Beginning the Camp!

    Monday was the first day of camp. We had most of the activities planned out for the kids but were a little nervous when we saw all the kids beginning to enter. At first, it seemed extremely overwhelming to have to entertain over 70 kids for a full week. Luckily, the Dominican teens were very helpful and assisted us with many of the activities. Surprisingly, Monday went very well. We all managed to work together with the teens and provide the children with a great first day of camp. It was rewarding to see the excitement the kids had for the upcoming week and made the trip worthwhile.
            Tuesday also went well. The kids were growing more comfortable with all of us as we were with them. After our second successful day of camp, we went to begin our murals with the Dominican teens. We all decided on a few designs we liked and started to paint. Unfortunately it began to rain so we chose to continue the murals the next day so as not to ruin our hard work. Upon arriving back to the parish, we noticed a large area of mud in the volleyball court. We decided it would be a good idea to make a mudslide. After running and jumping in it a few times, it wasn’t long until all of us, including the Dominicans, were coated in mud. We later learned that the Dominican teens had never experienced a mudslide until then. We were happy to share that experience with them, I’m sure it is something we will never forget. 

Written by Tori

Home Stays

My home stay was an overwhelming experience that I was really looking forward to. I don’t speak much Spanish so I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to communicate with my family. Luckily the girl I was placed with was in the same boat so we were able to lean on each other. Our family was different than some of the others. It was a fairly large family and not many of them could speak English! We both entered the house not knowing what to expect but we were immediately welcomed. Thankfully they understood that we were not able to really speak back but they found other ways to explain themselves.
            The two girls who are a part of the youth community ages 14 and 16 were the main hosts and they could speak minimal English, so we communicated through games. They taught us how to play cards and hand games without even saying the rules, instead they taught us through gestures and more non-verbal cues. Both nights were so enjoyable. We listened to music and even used google translator when we couldn’t think of the proper translation.
            I am so thrilled that we got the opportunity to stay in the community. Seeing the houses of the community and sleeping there made the lives of these Dominicans even more real. They were so loving and happy to welcome us with open arms. I especially enjoyed my own house because I love big families and this was bigger than I had ever seen. Even when I asked Maydelyn, one of my hosts, how many people live in your house, she said too many to count! That was such a beautiful thing to witness a huge family living in such a small town and supporting one another which is how this whole town operates. 

Written by Julie

Arriving in San Juan de la Maguana

     The eleven of us were selected to work at a Dominican parish of Our Lady of Hope (Spiritan Mission) running a day camp for children ages six through ten. Our first impression of the Dominican Republic was completely overwhelming. Until we met up with the Dominican teens, we were totally lost in the airport. Once they found us it was much more reassuring as they were very open and helpful. Many of us were nervous and reluctant to use our Spanish with the Dominican teens, but once we realized that they were just as apprehensive to use their English with us, everyone relaxed. The three hour bus ride from Santo Domingo to San Juan served as a great ice breaker and allowed everyone to get to know each other. After 14 hours of travel we were all very relieved to arrive at the parish, where we stayed for the first night.
     Although everyone was a little disappointed to have to wake up for an 8am mass, it was actually very exciting to experience the way another culture celebrates religion. After mass we traveled an hour to swim in the lake and afterwards Padre Don took us to La Cueva de Saboduco where we had the opportunity to explore the only cave in San Juan and climb the mountain above it where we experienced a breathtaking view of the surrounding area.

     Once we returned to the parish, we prepared for the weekly youth group meeting. This week’s meeting was much more relaxed and fun because the previous week had a more serious tone. After taking the first few minutes to acclimate to the energy and confusion created by sixty people screaming in Spanish, we were all able to take part in and enjoy the activities that the group leaders had planned for the evening. We were impressed by the way all the teens took part in the activities and how much fun they were able to have without their phones or computers and how they simply enjoyed each other’s company.

-Written by Antonio