Before going on our trip to the Dominican Republic, I had an idea of what life was like down there. I had seen pictures and heard stories, but I had never experienced it myself. Any words that I write can probably account for about 10% of what I felt on this trip. The pictures can’t do much more. It’s one thing to tell a story or to show a story; it’s another thing to actually be there. To see the sights, to hear the sounds, to smell, to touch, to feel — it’s something that really can’t be explained the same way that it was felt.
The people were the best part about the trip. Whether we were at the resort, in the sugarcane fields in Cachena, or on the streets of Consuelo, everyone was the same — kind, outgoing, generous, and happy. Everything they did seemed to come from the heart. The omelette guy at our hotel drove all the way to the capital one day just to watch us play! And every day that we played, random people would just walk up and watch our games. Not only did they just watch, they started cheering and rooting us on! It was such a fun thing to be part of. Also, the passion with which the women played was amazing. They didn’t play just to win, they played to have fun and enjoy the game. There was not one play where someone didn’t have a smile on their face. One team drove four hours in a small, cramped bus just to come play one game against us. Another group of girls walked FOUR MILES just to come to our clinic. The enthusiasm they brought and the effort they showed made my heart so happy. It really made me step back and realize what the game is really about — what life is really about.
The people amazed me, inspired me, and really touched my heart. They never complained, and like I said before, they always had a smile on their face. After coming back from this trip, I realized that we take a lot of things for granted here in the United States, both consciously and unconsciously. Going to the Dominican really opened my eyes and helped me see how blessed we are. I wish we could all learn to appreciate everything more . . . be thankful for what we have and grateful for the lives that we live, but also more caring and willing to help others in need.
This trip was the best experience of my life. It really allowed me to see the bigger picture and inspired me to become a better person each and every day. I can’t explain the feelings just thinking about it still gives me. It was, and is, truly incredible.