Thanks to Alyssa & Anna for their guest blog post below!
With only 1 day of camp left, we have been so grateful to have the opportunity to get to know and spend time with the children at Ciudad Santa Maria. For the past 2 weeks, we have cherished every moment from playing four square, making friendship bracelets, sharing music, and endless games and fun. Even though we only spend part of the day with the kids, we have built memories and relationships that will last a lifetime.
This camp has been a true eye opening experience and has given us the opportunity to see the vast amount of differences between education and community in our home towns and here in the Dominican Republic.
We will admit it was a bit difficult to communicate and figure out how to interact with the kids but we made the best of it and soon after began the fun. It was a learning experience on both ends, they ended up teaching us as much as we taught them! Seeing their eyes light up at such simple things like stickers and candy made us realize how privileged we are to live in a country were these things are unappreciated. No matter what was going on or who they were playing with, every kid seemed to enjoy themselves. Another situation that made us aware of the differences between our environments was the excitement and desire the children had for snacks. We noticed the first day that the kids were shy to ask for more and snuck snacks into their bags and once we acknowledged the situation and told them they were allowed to take snacks home, their excitement sky rocketed :)
We appreciate CIEE and Ciudad Santa Maria for allowing is to travel to such a beautiful country and work with such amazing children that have impacted our lives forever!
The Dominican Republic will forever be apart of us!
Thanks to Nya & Natalia for their guest blog post below:
- tomorrow is our last day at Ciudad Santa Maria. these past two weeks with the kids have gone by so quickly and i can't believe we have to say goodbye
- we've been working on final projects. the focus is on our personal growth and how we can tackle issues in our home community. i've learned so much about myself and about service in my time here and i can't wait to get home and tell everybody about my study abroad experience through this project
- even though we're wrapping up the program, i still can't believe that i'm in the Dominican Republic. this experience has been full of laughter and learning and good food. i am so grateful for my peers in this program, my encouraging and supportive leaders, Mercedes (our director), and every opportunity and trip we've had
- it's that time of the trip when the "lasts" come in. tomorrow is our last dinner with our host family, and our last excursion (27 charcos, here we come!). i came to Santiago thinking 3 weeks here would be overwhelming but i could stay for 3 more and be overjoyed
- this experience has been incredible and i would recommend a study abroad program to everybody and anybody. having a homestay experience has definitely helped me immerse myself in the culture and again i am so grateful to have lived in the Dominican Republic for three weeks, working at Ciudad Santa Maria with some of the brightest and sweetest kids i've ever met
- we only have two full days left in santiago so it is finally sinking in that i won't be able to see all of our friends ever again. the relationships that i've built with my host family, the children at Ciudad Santa Maria, and mostly the other students in the program, are so different from any relationships i have at home, and I will try to keep in touch with everyone, even if it's only over social media.
- today we had our final spanish class in which we discussed the food and music of Santiago. la bandera, the traditional dominican dish of rice, beans, and any type of meat, is what i look forward to at lunch everyday.
- over the past three weeks, my spanish speaking abilities have improved a ton. practicing with my host family has helped a lot, as well as talking with the Ciudad Santa Maria kids. i started out speaking only when necessary at meals with my host family, in fear that i would say the wrong thing and embarass myself, but i gained confidence in myself soon after. i now feel that i can easily express