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Improving the world (and ourselves) in the Dominican Republic

Looking back at my senior Christian Service trip to the Dominican Republic, I realize we made a significant impact. I also realized it made an equally great impact on my life.

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I’m going to start off by saying that I don’t think any amount of words can describe the time that my brothers and I had in the Dominican Republic. However, I will try my best to express my experience through these words.

Leading up to the trip, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew from my peers that it was going to be a life-changing event, but I didn’t really know how, or to what extent.

The ten days I spent in the Dominican Republic were some of the best days of my life. The whole experience was not a cake walk. But the hardships were only a part of a journey, and an experience, that allowed me to discover some of the greatest treasures that the world has to offer.

Leading up to the trip, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew from my peers that it was going to be a life-changing event, but I didn’t really know how, or to what extent.

When we arrived in the DR, the first thing that struck me was how different everything was from home. Driving through the towns to arrive at our destination in the mountains, it was easy to see that this country was struggling. Everybody thinks of Punta Cana or other luxurious vacation resorts when they picture the DR, but outside of that tiny area on the coast, there is a country that is in need of help.

After arriving at the Baiguate Resort in the mountains, we got settled. Staying at the mountain resort first eased us into the reality that was life in the DR. The resort had amenities that most people didn’t. We had ping-pong, billiards, a swimming pool, clean water, and food for every meal. However, we did not have air conditioning, so it was nice and hot.

The service work that we did in the mountains was physically draining. Our job was to begin the construction of an aqueduct to bring clean water to a village that did not have it. The aqueduct would start from the village, and travel up the length of the mountain to the beginning of the river.

We spent three days digging up that mountain in the hot sun. We worked with the people in the village. While we were learning how to shovel and pickaxe, the villagers were going at it like pros. It was very humbling to see.

A friendly face from the village that will always have a place in our hearts is a young man we called Lizard Guy. Lizard Guy was a 17 year old boy who helped us and accompanied us while we worked. The other villager kids said he looked like a lizard, and the name just stuck. The rest of my DR2 brothers will know who I’m talking about. He always had a smile on his face and was just a great person to be around.

It reminded us that outside of our homes, there was another reality that people had to live through.

At the conclusion of the last day of service in the mountains, most of us were relieved that we would be leaving this hard manual labor behind, but also saddened because we’d be leaving the village and the friends we made behind. We didn’t know what was coming up in the bateyes, or sugar cane fields.

The bateyes were a completely different environment. It was hot and sunny every day. Compared to the Bateyes, the mountain was paradise. We did not have the amenities that the mountain resort had in our new home, the Ascala Center. However, I think I can say with confidence, that our experience in the bateyes was the highlight of the trip.

Our job in the bateyes was to help a family re-lay the flooring of their house and to build the foundation to another house. The work was equally as grueling as digging trenches on a mountain. Manually mixing cement and carrying buckets for over four hours a day can wear you down.

However, any amount of work would have been worth the reward that we got afterward. After completing our day’s work, we were able to play with the kids of the village.

The kids of the village aren’t like the kids here at home. These children had nothing, only a few sets of clothes and none of the toys that kids have in the US. But, these kids were the happiest, most innocent, and most fun kids that I have ever encountered. The joy that these kids expressed when able to play with us just cannot be matched, and I don’t think an experience like this can really be recreated.

Shoutout to Pinto, Isabella, and Elian. Also shoutout to Tony. These were some of the names and faces that none of us DR boys will ever forget.

It was tough leaving the Bateyes. The relationships that we had made had run their courses. We would never see any of the wonderful people of the Bateyes again, and it was sad.

But, getting to a hotel in the capital of Santo Domingo was amazing. We were rejuvenated by the hot showers, nice beds, and wifi that the hotel had to offer. It was nice getting back to reality and getting to enjoy a day in the city.

In conclusion, the trip to the Dominican Republic was an eye-opening experience that I and the rest of the DR boys will never forget. It reminded us that outside of our homes, there was another reality that people had to live through. One that included struggling to survive and laying everything out on the line for your family.

Like I stated in the beginning, it is hard capturing ten days worth of service and putting it into words. I skipped over many fun activities such as white water rafting, the beach day, and the flea market. If you want to see the full experience, the video is available on YouTube and the Malvern Prep Christian Service page of the Malvern website. However the service was the best part of the trip, and I felt that that was the part that I had to describe the most.

We will always remember the people, places, and experiences of the Dominican Republic. Nothing will ever be able to parallel what we got to experience. DR boys for life.

About Nick Li

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Nick has been a part of the BFC for two years and formerly held the role of Social Media Editor. A Malvern native, Nick is a captain of the baseball team and will be attending and playing for Johns Hopkins University next year. He also is President of the Diversity Awareness Club and participates actively in other clubs.

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