“It’s not happy people who are grateful; it’s grateful people who are happy.”
What happens when a group of college students from a private university in Connecticut embark on an eight day journey to a third world country? Laughter, smiles, singing, tears, sadness, hope, excitement, nervousness, and a whole lot of learning.
When we were first driving from the Santa Domingo airport to Casa Pastoral in La Romana, I looked to one of my classmates and said “it’s so crazy how people live like this every day and how it’s so different from what is normal to us.”
You can read about different places, watch documentaries, hear other peoples’ accounts, but you cannot truly understand how different everything is until you experience it first hand.
Batey 50 is about as different from Quinnipiac University as you can get. There are no Brita bottle fill stations, let alone running water. No wifi or even electricity. No perfectly manicured quad, not even a patch of grass. But in Batey 50, we all felt a distinct sense of home. The people and families who live in Batey 50 are warm, loving, and happy. They are one big family and we were welcomed in as a part of it with open arms.
On New Years day, there was a party where we served everyone food brought by the hospital and gave toys to all of the children. We were only there for a short time (about four hours) that day, but I don’t think the smile left my face the whole time. By then, the shock of being in such a different place had melted away and I felt that I was at home with my new family, celebrating the New Year and all of the possibilities it could bring. As I sat down surrounded by people who couldn’t really understand me and who I couldn’t really understand either, I felt the warmth of home inside myself and in everyone around me. I am extremely thankful for the different perspective I was able to experience firsthand on this trip and I will never forget the feeling of home I felt in such a different place.