Central Catholic students learned, “Happiness is better when it is shared” in Los Rios, Dominican Republic

June 2019
This trip was something that I think each person who went could agree on. It was an amazing experience that taught everyone important life lessons. I know that each time I think back to this trip, I’ll remember nothing but good times and many laughs I shared while being in Los Rios. 

From the very beginning, we all knew this trip would be an unforgettable experience. Each and everyone of us went into this trip knowing that we were going to have to overcome some type of adversity. However, none of us knew the magnitude of how much adversity we would have to overcome in order to get the most out of this experience. In order for us to arrive in the Dominican Republic on time, we needed to survive a 4 hour layover in Newark, New Jersey after flying to San Francisco from Portland. However, our original flight got cancelled. As we arrived into San Francisco, we were all eager to get onto another plane heading for the east coast. Unfortunately for us, that eagerness quickly went away. We landed in California around 11 am, but after 9 grueling hours of flight delays, cancellations, and trying to sleep in an airport, we were finally able to board our plane set for Newark. After a very uncomfortable six hour plane ride, we had to run across the airport in order to barely sneak on the flight leaving for Santo Domingo. Despite us safely arriving in the Dominican Republic, we knew our long journey to the court site was not over yet.

When we first stepped outside into the 94 degree heat with 95% humidity, the sweat quickly started, and after seeing a tiny bus supposedly taking us on a 6 hour tour through the Hispaniola mountains, there was just one more task to overcome before we started our work. Fortunately for us, the air conditioning blowing in our faces felt like a dream after countless hours of traveling. After arriving to Los Rios, we instantly knew the magnitude of our project. Countless children, ranging from 4-16 were running around us excited for us to be helping them construct a court they desperately needed. The first night was special, we hadn’t even been there for 3 hours and there was already an unbreakable bond that was created between us and the children. During dinner we all were running around the streets playing tag and tickling each other. However, the first night of sleep was definitely challenging. Sleeping in your own sweat was something you needed to get used to. A good night’s rest was so crucial to us being able to get up and work on the court.

When all of us had arrived to the court site, the ground had not yet been leveled. So the first day we were leveling the ground and getting ready to pour cement. We were finally able to pour cement the second day of work. After a day’s work in the boiling sun, a few of the locals took us down to the baseball field after hearing that some of us played baseball back in the states. We had all heard before we left for the trip that sports has no language barrier. As long as you know how to play sports, the language barrier is almost nonexistent. It was a sight to see, all the boys and girls coming out running around the baseball diamond was awesome. Seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces was wonderful.

The very last day in Los Rios, was a tough one, knowing that we wouldn’t see these kids that had become our best friends over the past 8 days was a gut wrenching feeling. After the countless tears and hugs, we had loaded up the buses, and were ready to leave for Santo Domingo. -Jaden, student

“What I understand more clearly after this trip is how important community and coming together is. When I was in the village, I had never seen a tighter knit community that was so content despite their lack of privilege. They never complain and are simply grateful for the company they have around them. A quote that I felt embodied what I learned is, “happiness is better when its shared because it represents how wealth and power does not guarantee happiness, but a supportive community does.” -Lexi

“My favorite memory from this trip is connecting with community. The little kids were obsessed with us and wanted to spend time with us every second. They were so loving and caring and always wanted to hold our hands while walking, getting on our backs, or playing games with us. Even though there was a language barrier, it didn’t feel like there was one at all and I was still able make the special connections.” -Mackenzie

“I understand more clearly that the people in the community are privilege in a different way I am. They don’t have things like electricity or constant access to water but they have an amazing community and they make the best with what they have.”  -Emilee

“What I learned from the community is that everyone has a part in the community and everyone has something they can contribute. It was humbling to see the work ethic in not only the Dominicans but the Central Students as well, because now I know that little something is in everyone.” – Audrey

“Not only did I learn about the way the culture was different from mine, their different foods, way of life, and traditions. I learned from them to share, look out for each other, and to make good from what you have and what is available. “- Fiona

“I learned so much from the Los Rios community, but most importantly, I learned how to be appreciative for everything that I have. The community really put meaning to the saying “a little goes a long way”. Seeing kids wear the same clothes all week and making toys out of old beer bottles really gives you new perspective on the world around you.” -Alana