While some students like to relax and binge on Netflix during spring break, some students decided that this spring break would be different.
After hearing about the opportunity in summer orientation, Honor Student Erin O’Quinn knew what she was doing this spring break. Without hesitation she was willing to give up resting over the break to go to the Dominican Republic to visit and help out a small community in the mountains called, Angostura.
On Saturday the students boarded the plane and landed 9 hours later in Santo Domingo of the Dominican Republic. After being submerged in the city, the students were surrounded by trash, loud honking, and an awful aroma floating in the air. In comparison, when the students finally arrived in Angostura, they marveled at the beauty. It was already evident that the small community takes pride in their land.
“The trip was definitely an overwhelming experience of a beautiful new culture for our students,” Honors Program Coordinator, Jessica Bullock said.
Not only do the Angosturan people respect the environment, but they welcomed the students, showing them the “Dominican Flag,” which is a staple meal for the country that includes, white rice, red beans, and an assortment of delicious vegetables.
The students took what some may consider difficult measures to learn more about the community. They took a strenuous hike up a mountain with a rocky path to lead the way. This lead them to the hydroelectric system the community designed for themselves. The community thrives off this system that gives them cheaper and more reliable energy then what the government has to offer.
The students created a colorful mural that was approximately 12 feet long that read at the bottom “Comunidad De Angostura,” which means “The Community of Angostura.” O’Quinn was able to sketch the work onto the wall, while the rest colored it in. After working together, the seven girls were able to get the paining done in five hours. When the people saw the finished mural, their faces had a look of amazement.
The students also were given the opportunity to plant about 4 small trees each. This impressed one of the citizens that they would do this in the rain for the community. She asked the students to come into her home. Although her house was small, they stayed in her living room while she made them coffee. While waiting, the translator informed the group that this women picks, roasts, and brews the coffee herself. If that were not enough, the lady immediately picked fruit for the people who did not drink coffee. This woman represented the community in just that way. Everybody in the community were welcoming and appreciative of everything the students were doing.
“It was very humbling because they had what in our eyes seemed so little, yet they had an abundance of happiness. You don’t find that here. It was so real and genuine…. They had taught so much more to us than anything we could do for them,” O’Quinn said.
By the end of the week, TJC student, Mary Baker felt like there was still more work to do and is considering going again to teach English to the children.
“It is a trip that everybody should take. It was a tiring week, but I wanted to stay longer. I didn’t want to go home. I felt like there was more we could do,” Baker said.
In a short amount of time these students learned so much that no text can teach. The students not only benefited the community, but gained wisdom through the people of Angostura.