“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place” – Miriam Adeney.
All throughout the fall semester we had guest speakers and previous student’s attending class and telling us their experience in the Bateys. One of the points that resonated with me the most was when someone said it is hard to be home again. When I was preparing to leave the Dominican I realized it would be difficult to go home because I would be returning to so many luxuries that so many people did not even know existed but also because one of the hardest parts of being home was being away from people I met, loved, and said goodbye to all in a matter of days and hours.
Although I could not speak Spanish very well the ability to form meaningful relationships with the people is not hindered. While in Batey 50 I spent much time with two sisters Erika and Nelly. Although I could not speak Spanish well I was still able to communicate with them. After knowing Erika for fifteen minutes I was carrying her around the Batey and was about to step in something gross. Erika just started point and yelling “AMIGA AMIGA” at first I had no idea why she was yelling that and then I looked down and realized someone I had know for fifteen minutes was yelling friend because i was about to step in something unpleasant was a scene I could of never imagined happening in America. For the next few days whenever I was with Erika she would always be yelling out “Amiga” when I was about to go the wrong way or step on something. Having someone I just met genuinely look out for me during my time there was an amazing feeling.
During our first few days in Batey 50 we found so many families and their children were telling us they were so hungry. The drought has severly affected the sugar cane season therefore affecting families income. Although many people came to our classes to talk about how life changing the experience of going on this trip was, no story about their experience could prepare us for how hungry these people were. One day while I was holding Nelly she started screaming crying out for water. Hearing and seeing someone so small desperate for water was something that could not be explained or taught in a classroom. While we were in Batey 50 we were able to hand them food on new years day and the day after. Being able to serve the families of Batey 50 was one of the most humbling moments about the trip. After spending so much time with the families of Batey 50 and having them being so welcoming, accepting, and loving while we were there it felt so great to be able to give the entire community something in return.
One of our last days there we went to the Joe Hartmen school and brought many children to a water park. To me this was one of the best days of my life. I spent my day with two girls and they were both so scared of the water at first but once they got in they were so excited. They literally did not want to get out of the water. Surprisingly it was like pulling teeth to even get them to get them to come out of the water to eat! We never left the kiddie pool but I would take a day with them with full smiles over anything. The entire bus ride home I think everyone wanted to sleep but me and my two new friends literally spent the entire bus ride home cracking up over funny photos and pictures.
I’m not sure who Miriam Adeney met or where she went when she famously was quoted but I do know what she said is true. Being home again is definitely difficult. It is much more quiet without a bus ride full of laughing and a friend pointing out things to watch out for. It is hard to be away from people you grew to love and worry about their wellbeing in a short period of time. As hard as it is to be away from such amazing people I am forever thankful for the experience to go to the Dominican, and I cannot wait for many future trips there.