High school student Glendie C. traveled with us to the Dominican Republic this past April. We’re thrilled to share her insights here on the blog.
This I believe: less is more.
I am in the Dominican Republic riding down the bumpy, dirt road trying not to get sick. I cannot imagine anyone being able to travel on these roads every single day. Tropical plants are growing all along the road. Past the plants are hundreds of rice fields. Rice requires a large quantity of water to grow, so the fields are a breeding ground for mosquitos. The irrigation ditches have murky water flowing through them. It is basically the sewer, community pool, and the drinking water.
As we draw near to the village of Cotui, I see mothers sitting on the porch and naked babies walking around by their mothers’ chairs. The children of the village see our bus coming and run by our bus yelling, “Los Americanos!” We pull up to the hostess, Milagros’s house. We jump off the bus and are engulfed by children. These kids range from age two to fifteen. They are all a little dirty, but it is to be expected since there are only dirt roads and dirt floored houses. Their clothes are worn and there is a smell that I cannot describe. The smell is so distinct that I will never forget it.
These children are so excited to see us. They immediately start to talk to us in Spanish. Of course I cannot understand them, but I can pick up on a few words. I say the few words I know back to the kids and then suddenly I have a child holding each hand. It is like I have known them for years. Their trust of me after a few minutes is amazing. If I went up and talked to some kids in America, they would reply shyly and walk away.
During the week that I am in the Dominican Republic, these children become more than just children to me. Each one of them becomes special in heart. They are more joyful than any children I have ever met. They live in shacks, but they are happy to play in the streets. There are no cell phones or computers to distract them. They play baseball with a skinny stick and a wadded up juice carton as the ball. The kids are close to all the other children in the village. Everyone works together and takes care of each other.
They are a true community.
When I think of America, I think of all the children on their newest video games. Families sit around the dinner table with their cell phones in hand, never saying one word to each other. Some people do not even know their neighbors. Many Americans are sad and depressed even with all their technology.
After just one trip to the Dominican Republic, I realized that I may have an iPhone, a laptop, and a flat screen TV, but I do not have the sense of community they have. They are so joyful and caring. They live selflessly, while we live for ourselves.
Through this trip, I came to believe that we do not need all the stuff we have. We think we will be happy with the next new thing, but we are never satisfied. When we pull away from all our things, we can have more happiness. In other words, less is more.