Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Global Routes in the Dominican Republic?
Caitlin: I have always been interested in Latin American countries and I wanted to do something that would take me out of my comfort zone. I had never done anything without the kids I have gone to school with for the past 12 years, and it was refreshing to get away, I learned a lot.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Caitlin: We woke up early in the morning to the alarming and rustic sound of roosters or whatever bird it was. "Gringa" my host mom, would serve us hot chocolate milk with a warm piece of bread and we were out the door by 7:15. We walked down the main road for about 2 minutes until we would pick up our two members of our group. We'd walk for about 15 minutes down the same road(the only main road in the entire town,) and we arrived at the top of a hill at our work site.
We would work for four hours, mixing cement by shoveling tons of rocks and or sand, cement powder, and a water, as we laughed and listened to music with our Dominican friends and families. We'd go home for lunch which would mainly be sleeping because we were exhausted by then, and then back to work for the last three hours. We'd then walk home, it just so happened to rain RIGHT after work every single day, never giving us an excuse to get a break. And it would poor... I mean POOR down rain... the highest pressured showers we had gotten yet! Then we'd run home to our host families, get dried off and shower and by then the rain had stopped.
At night we'd attend fiestas, hangout with our families, or go watch the local baseball games. Sometimes my host sisters and I would paint each others nails, or do our hair instead of go to the games.
How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?
Caitlin: I look at the world completely differently now. I am still mostly myself but when I think about things, I think about them also through the eyes of the people I spent that month with in the Dominican Republic. One can always say that they understand how privileged they are, but you really don't understand until you live the life for yourself. When one gets back, their every day life will seem almost pointless. You'll notice that everyone is stressed out in the U.S. and that working is the only priority. In the Dominican Republic, the people enjoy life to the fullest and care more about their families then a new business deal. You'll also view a lot of things as waste... any extra things you have in your house or your room you'll want to get rid of and completely simplify. It was a life changing experience.