Tonight (Sunday) was our last night in the Dominican Republic. After camp on Friday, we headed to Punta Rucia for an off-the grid experience that included snorkeling through a reef on Saturday. After lunch, we made it safely to Santo Domingo for the rest of the weekend. Our hotel, Casa Sánchez, is absolutely quaint and beautiful. We are right in the heart of the Zona Colonial, within walking distance to the oldest cathedral in the New World, the resting place of Christopher Columbus, and old forts and castles that line the cobblestone roads. We had a walking tour of the city from our guide, Madame Hermosillo. After that, within a small area, students could enter museums, barter with market vendors for souvenirs, and buy lunch. Lunch was followed by a workshop at the chocolate factory. We learned the history of cacao and the steps it takes to make chocolate. Everyone donned a chef’s hat and apron and made their own sweets to take home. The final event was a lovely meal at Pasatiempo di Santo Domingo, a quaint restaurant tucked away on a side street. Mr. Pope led an emotional time for reflections, where each student looked at the experience as a whole, and talked about it in front of the group.
The chaperones (Mrs. Hermosillo, Mr. Pope, Ms. Powell, and Mrs. Jiménez) were absolutely amazed at the insight that our students had. The thoughts and comments reflected a maturity beyond their years. These 16 rising freshman have so much to offer and exceeded our expectations in every way. There were those who tried new activities and learned that physically and mentally, they are much more capable of what they previously thought. Some tried out the world language they study at Pace, only to find out that they could also pick up phrases in an additional one. Others worked tirelessly at camp in tough conditions, learning new skills along the way. As a group, we learned that our culture is special, but not necessarily better than any other. We learned that it’s ok to not feel comfortable, and in fact, that is how you can really grow as a person. We learned that by focusing so much on “stuff” maybe isn’t allowing us to be our best selves. We learned that while technology is wonderful in many ways, a real face-to-face conversation can be the biggest gift of all. We also learned that the world is full of problems and challenges, but possibly we can be ones who will make a difference.
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” – M. Scott Peck
Thank you! ¡Gracias! ¡Merci! ¡Mesi anpil!
~Maryann Powell, Pete Pope, (Jose Bien-Amié), Edna-May Hermosillo, Holly Jiménez