And now... on with today's entry...
We've been back in the U.S. for a while now and most of us have settled into our more typical routine. Is this sad? In a way - our experiences in the Dominican generally consisted of hard work, being in a group of people who were almost always having a good time, reflecting, observing and/or planning... If you had to get somewhere and it was going to rain, but your seat was the back of the pickup, you climbed in. Pancakes for breakfast? You ate pancakes and loved them.
(Who am I kidding? Everyone loves pancakes... bad example)
You were usually hot and covered with bug spray, your clothes were often damp and everyone was happy and got along great. It was incredible to see a really diverse group of students working and hanging together - many of whom didn't know each other before this trip. We had civil, mechanical and engineering education, nursing, pre-dent, accounting, biology and pharmacy majors and "grown-ups" from engineering, education, nursing and administration.
The grown-ups at dinner (Deb, Robin, Dede, Jenny, me, Laurie - with Earl & Rita from Southern Utah). Yes, we snuck away from pizza the first night. "What is this? Not sure - let's order it!" Unfortunately, Jenny & I ordered adventurously hoping for something cool (like the potatoes in the mortar here) and got fries with cheese sauce. Oh well!
I love my life here as well, but it's different. Anyone living in the U.S. understands the differences. Which is better? Personally, I love them both.
How did it go?
I've had a chance to talk to quite a few of our travelers in the airport on the way back and since the trip and have a LOT of great info for the future AND a lot of great feedback. A few comments stand out:
How was the trip overall?
- "Best decision I've ever made - best decision of my life!" :-)
- "Like Dan said one morning - if we bring a lot of technology down, do we start to take away the work ethic?" This quote was one of my favorites because they were referring to a devotional one morning about a week before, so the concepts were still in our thoughts.
- "I'm going to start saving now so I can go back!"
- "I'd rather skip the resort and do another day of work" - OK, our resort stay on the way out of the country was a little gross this time (picture taking your sheets out of the washer and making the bed without drying them). But the comment was more about the opportunity to have another work day more than agasint the resort stay, and that is great.
Observations - in no particular order
- The food all week is great! I love a peanut butter & banana sandwich, and the bananas are infinitely better in the DR than in the US. The breakfast syrup is some secret recipe with a ton of sugar. Moro (rice & beans) is perfect with some Dominican hot sauce.
- The folks from Solid Rock are awesome - Dan & Kari, Nicole, Laura, Bieva and Amaury (sorry if I forgot anyone) make everything run smoothly and love what they do. They are true friends.
- We have to figure out how to make this thing sustainable and make a big difference. We've done 2 different types of workshops and have outstanding feedback - "When can you come back?" Great question! When indeed? How? What will it take? Our conversations since we've been back have been so encouraging that I'm sure we'll make it happen!
- I still can't believe Jenny & I have been there 5 times. I said I would never need a passport, and now I could see spending months there, with Jenny working in a school while I worked on projects. What a change!
Let's wrap this up:
In Atlanta, we bought two lattes, each for about $5. We spent $10 on lattes (or $400 Dominican), which is almost the daily wage for a teacher in the Dominican and more then many people we saw will make in a week or more. I thought this was a real illustration of the stark difference living in the U.S. and elsewhere. Maybe not, but it really painted a picture for me.
Some of us have talked a lot about the big picture / university level vs. college level vs. small groups of individuals doing projects. I won't delve into details here, but I will say: I love having a vision and ability to work at any of these levels and cohorts who share the vision and ability. I am amazed at the group I get the privilege of working with - the individual members can change (which is also good) but there are some people and pieces that are continuing as part of our big picture and part of our vision. There will soon be Kamanda & Jeff working with schools and construction in the D.R., which will help us make a much bigger difference, much faster. There are internal things that should change as we continue to "reinvent the wheel". For those who don't know what I'm talking about, no need to worry - so many opportunities, so many experiences and such great success is headed our way with our teacher-workshop-education projects, construction projects and new project we'll propose (the green building). If you have ever thought "I should go...", yes you should!
I'll try for one more post that is picture-heavy soon... to those who have supported our work, thank you!