How Quickly We Forget

JFK once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but live by them” – I believe this quotation perfectly frames my experience in the Dominican Republic.

For everyone else who was on this trip, I’m sure you will agree with me when I say that a perfect way to describe the trip, the things we did, the people we met and the sights we saw as “life changing”. However, after slightly over a week, it is amazing to see just how quickly and easily I can fall back into some of the same exact habits that I swore I would ditch at the end of the trip. Without even trying, I find myself taking things such as clean faucet water, food, and electricity for granted. I have caught myself in saying that “there’s nothing to eat” as I stand in front of a fridge full of leftovers- these are things that I am certainly not proud of and that I continue to work on with each passing day. However, they are also things that I would never have thought twice about if I had never been blessed enough to experience what life may be like in the Bateys of the Dominican Republic because trust me, talking about it and seeing it with your own eyes is completely different.

One of the houses in Batey 50

Take a look at what your home may be if you were to live in Batey 50.While the mountains and the sugar cane provide a breathtaking view around you, your home consists of one room, no running water, no shower or toilet, no electricity (this means no AC !), little to no food, and did I mention you share this home with your parents and your eight siblings? Talk about tight quarters! Yet, when you talk to the people who live here, they are some of the happiest people that you have ever met. Suddenly, that cold shower you took this morning or the room you have to share with your one sister or your annoying roommate doesn’t seem so bad huh? I had the same feeling when I walked into this house. It was strong shot of reality that I needed because not three days prior, I had gone off on my sister for taking too long of a shower and leaving me with lukewarm water… crazy how a little bit of perspective can bring the important things back into focus. 

There was not one person that I met in any of the Bateys who wasn’t welcoming, friendly, and grateful for the little that they have. If anything, I feel that Americans could learn a lot from these people- I know that I did.
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I am so completely grateful that I have had the opportunity to travel to the Bateys of the Dominican Republic. Not only did I get an invaluable wake up call about what the important things in life really are, but I also got to help these amazing people. On the the trip I was able to help build some of the new houses that a few of the families in the Batey will get to move into and I was blessed with the experience of giving these families food that they desperately need. Being able to know that I left something behind that means so much to these families meant so much to me and has only fueled my desire to do more. As of right now, I have begun saving so that I can donate a house to a family in Batey 50… I also plan to return next summer. 

So as JFK said, the best way to express my appreciation for this experience is not to simply tell you about how this trip has changed my life but instead live my life differently in accordance to the things that I have learned. (I confess, this is harder than you would think but is absolutely doable) I encourage anyone who is up for some hard work and big rewards to go on this trip or on a similar trip because there is really no way to express just how amazing the experience was and how much my perception of the world has changed. 

Before we left to return to the Americas, John said “the sacrifice is not coming here. It is going home”- to you this may seem a bit silly because who wouldn’t want their own bed right? Wrong. Once you’ve experienced the Dominican Republic and the warmth that these people have to offer and you have felt the pure joy of helping them in the best way you can, you will never want to go back home, i promise that when you do indeed return home, you will catch yourself doing the same things that I am now such as using less water, thinking twice before getting upset about something like traffic or an incorrect coffee order, and constantly wondering how your friends that you left there are doing and what you can do to help them. 

Hope to see you there next year! 

-Shannon W. 

 

 

 

 

 

My DRMT Experience – Cristina

            It has been a little over a week since I have been home, and to be honest the first couple of days were rough. Having gone from waking up at 6:30am every weekday to returning around 5pm I felt awkward being home. It was so quiet and there wasn’t much to do. Not being around my classmates and the DR Mission Team I did find myself getting a little emotional because those ten days was an amazing and unforgettable experience. I wish we could’ve stayed another week! Being in the Dominican and knowing that you are making a difference, even if it is the smallest, the Haitian communities were so thankful that you would always find yourself smiling. Just like Melissa said at the last meeting, she was full of joy; I can say the same and I bet others can too. It was hard leaving the Dominican knowing that it may be a few months or another year until some of us can make this trip again, but it will be worth it.

            Being apart of the Teaching/Food/Evangelism team we had the opportunity to travel to many different Batey’s and interact with a great number of people. One of my favorite moments had to have been sharing the love of soccer/futbol with kids from Batey 30 and 35. In the first Batey the kids were young and just enjoyed being there and being able to kick a ball. Their laughter was so contagious and seeing their smiles widening from ear to ear. You could not help but feel connected to them from just a simple game. It was the same with Batey 35. The field we played on was full of cows and manure, but that did not stop the group of kids around our age from playing. They were good too. From the “trash-talking” that was occurring in Spanish between both teams, you could tell it was all in good fun. Everyone was laughing and I could not help but smile. Also being five-feet and playing with guys that were about a foot taller, they had their advantage but us girls held our own. One girl who was only a few inches taller than I was had scored the majority of our teams goals. A young boy who was small and skinny played amazing defense! He held his position against men that were at least 6-10 years older than him! But what I loved the most during these two games was that the differences that people would normally see between us as Americans and them being Haitians was non-existent. The love of soccer had brought us all together, and all of our differences had disappeared. Nothing else mattered but trying to get that ball in the make shift “goals” and just having a good time. That is what I loved most. Although there were so many differences that define the two groups, there was always something similar each one of us could find with someone in the Batey. There is always something that can connect every one of us.

            I met an amazing group of people in the Dominican Republic, not only from the Batey communities but also from the group of Americans that the QU301 class traveled with. Being able to tell people about the stories from the meetings, and about what my classmates and I did while in the DR is something that will always put a smile on my face. Honestly, one time will not be enough. Having asked some of my classmates about whether they’d return for a second time, the answer was all the same. We all cannot wait to be able to take our second trip… I think it is safe to say that this trip will only get bigger and the stories will be even better (hashtag DRMT15?). I will be forever grateful for the experience this trip brought me! #DRMT14 #qu301dr

 

Soccer Game at Batey 30

Soccer Game at Batey 30

Batey 30

Batey 30

QU301 (2014)

QU301 (2014)

Este from Batey 30

Este from Batey 30

Sisters Maiellis (left) and Wanda (right)

Sisters Maiellis (left) and Wanda (right)

All she kept saying was "Mira! Mira!"

All she kept saying was “Mira! Mira!”

Batey 50

Batey 50

My DRMT Experience – Deanna

I don’t think there is a word or even a group of words to describe my experience in the DR.  I have been home for a little over and week and I still find myself talking to my family and friends all about my trip! I never would have expected this trip and the people I met to have impacted me in the way that it did! The people I met and interacted with in the Bateys (Dominicans, Haitians, and Americans too!) had amazing personalities and incredible life stories. These people were some of the most caring, welcoming, and strongest human-beings I have ever met. Being able to meet and interact with people who were not from/within my small Quinnipiac and North Jersey “bubbles” gave me a chance to see and experience life in a completely different way then I have ever done before! Everyone I met in the Bateys was so thankful for the work we were doing, but I am more thankful to them because they have taught me more about life and living then I ever could have imagined. Small life situations/complications that occur such as having to wait a little longer in line or a store running out of a product that you wanted seem completely different now. I am so thankful for the experience of a lifetime and I absolutely can not wait to go back. The people of the DR and the Bateys have my heart! ❤  #DRMT14 #QU301DR

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Allie’s DRMT14 Experience

I honestly could have never expected to have the experience that I did in the DR. It is so difficult to put into words what I experienced while I was there, especially for people that weren’t there. I met the most amazing people on this trip and they were not just people from the Dominican, I met incredible people from the US too. The stories that I heard and the different personalities that I encountered have changed me forever. I was also changed by the people that I met from the Dominican. The incredible faith that they have in God, and a large appreciation for the little that we do for them blew my mind. John told us all about all of this, but I don’t think that there is anything that can truly prepare someone for this experience. I saw a woman who had been constantly vomiting and having diarrhea, and her mother had enough faith that she was waiting for missionaries to come and help her daughter because a man that came to pray with her told her that we were coming to save her. I also saw a bunch of little boys playing with a guitar that was made out of a piece of wood, an aluminum can, and a couple pieces of wire, and they were perfectly happy. Some days we would have trouble with the kids in the Bateyes being too aggressive and then there were days when they would be so polite and well behaved. I always understood when the kids were too aggressive because who wouldn’t be when they never see games and toys? But I was always blown away when they were polite because they never get to see anything like this and they were well behaved and appreciative for what we were doing. I was shocked in good ways and bad ways multiple times a day on this trip and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I can’t wait to go back and do it all again.imageimage

My trip to the DR – Nicole Donadio

Participating in the 2014 Dominican Republic Mission Team has truly been an experience that I will never forget. Over the course of ten days, I learned so many things.. not only about myself, but about others, about the world around me, and about different cultures. Without QU 301 DR, I would have never had this opportunity; so for that, I am thankful. Throughout the semester, we learned about the Dominican Republic by reading books and articles and watching movies. However, to see the harsh conditions that the people face with my own eyes taught me more than anything else ever could. As we live in our everyday lives, it is often so easy to see the world as one big and happy place; and, indeed, the world is very big – and the people in the DR are very happy. However, the life that they face day by day is not. Experiencing the world that they live in and putting myself in their shoes made me appreciate how much I have and realize that there are so many things that I take for granted, such as clean water, food, or shoes on my feet. To have been able to help and make a difference for the better in these peoples lives is such a great and rewarding feeling that words could never express. Helping others brings me one of the greatest joys, a pure happiness, which I felt throughout the duration of this trip. Some people need material things to bring them happiness, but helping others brings a joy that money could never buy, as it is out of love. I am so grateful to have met so many amazing people on this trip, as without them, my experience would not have been the same. This experience has been one that I will never forget and I will keep it in my heart, always. #DRMT14 #QU301DR

Nicole Donadio

my DR experience – by Mariella

Over the last 10 days, I embarked on a trip to help others.  What I didn’t know was that this trip was going to change my life forever.  I have been back for under 24 hours, and already I miss the DR.  The lifestyle is much different there than it is in America.  The amount of things that American’s waste- from food, to water, to clothes, to electricity- is disgusting.  And the most disgusting part about it is that they do not even care!  Many people in the USA take the simplest of life’s gifts for granted.  This trip truly opened my eyes to the hard truth.

Here in America, sometimes people throw around words like “ohhh I’m soooo hungry”, or even worse “omg i am STARVING.”  Personally, I feel that I will NEVER be able to say or even tolerate these words again after seeing the amount of food that some of the people living in the Bateys get to eat every day.

Overall, I feel that the only possible way to get Americans to understand these conditions is by bringing each and every one of them to the DR on a mission trip.  And since that is impossible, the only thing we can do is SPREAD THE WORD!  Tell everyone you know about the things you did and saw on this trip.  Even if it makes just ONE person rethink flushing the toilet when its only ‘yellow’, or saving that last bit of food on their plate, you have done a job well done and you have saved the world.

The time is here!!

So I’m driving to the airport at 4:00am for our flight to the Dominican Republic!! It finally hit me last night that we are really going. I’m really excited about the whole experience and seeing everyone from Quinnipiac again. But I’m also anxious. I think I am just ready to be there and see and be around what we have been learning and hearing about for the whole semester.

Let’s do this bobcats.

– Melissa