In 2009, I did what all 22 year old girls facing a premature quarter life crisis does: go to a foreign country alone.
I had always wanted to volunteer my time and do something meaningful and memorable but could never think of exactly when, where, how or what it was I wanted to do. So when speakers from International Student Volunteers gave a presentation during my World History lecture at CSUS, I thought – why not? After undergoing the application process, getting accepted and finding the funds to make this trip happen, I freaked out. Am I really doing this? I hope I don’t get stuck rooming with a crazy. I can’t even speak Spanish, how am I supposed to teach these kids? What if I get kidnapped and sold into prostitution? Who will be MY Liam Neeson?! (I had just watched Taken, obviously.)
Honestly, I don’t remember anything from the journey to the airport, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was numbed by fear and anxiety. What I do remember though, is meeting some of my fellow volunteers at the Miami airport and feeling lucky I wasn’t one of the few unfortunate ones whose luggage was lost on the flight over. Another flight and a four hour bus ride later, we made it to our home, Rancho Campeche. During my weeks there, my team built a basketball court for the community and spent time in the local school teaching basic English, math, geography, sciences and health education to children and provided a creative learning environment through music, dance, arts and crafts. The experience wasn’t all work though, our free weekend consisted of cave exploring, dance lessons and beer. Lots of beer.
|My insect-free bed|
|That’s me on the right|
My only regret of that trip was not staying an extra two weeks for the adventure tour. Luckily, I had my bunk make / twin / Sill / partner in crime with me for the travel back home. I may have not went on the adventure tour, but Popsicle Stick Kimberly did, and she had a blast. My trip to the Dominican has been the most humbling and rewarding experience of my life. I came home with a fresh perspective, new friends from all over the world and seven pounds lighter. So thank you, premature quarter life crisis, you pushed me into an experience I will never forget.