Years traveled to the Dominican Republic: 1998-2004
Current Occupation: Father, VP of Business Development, Down Syndrome Activist
On seeing the world differently: “My expectations were to essentially change the world in two weeks: leave my mark on the map, build a home for a ‘poor family, learn a little Spanish along the way, and offer up all of my extensive wisdom and knowledge to the ‘uneducated rural children’. Yeah right. Instead, that “poor family” subconsciously gave me a crash course in family values, friendship, and love. I found myself working next to one of the smartest and most innovative building contractors I have ever met; a man who didn’t have the most effective tools nor excuse for not having them.”
Advice on your trip to the DR: “Enter with open arms, mind, body, soul, spirit, heart and you will never forget this experience.”
Years traveled to the Dominican Republic: 2000, 2003, 2010
Current Occupation: Research Scientist, George Washington University
On seeing herself: “My trips to the DR as a student and then as a leader made me feel empowered. Not only did I succeed in a challenging environment but I was able to point to tangible differences that I made in the Dominicans lives or in my students lives. As a result, I have felt more confident tackling challenges in my life back in the States. The trip will stretch you more than you thought you could stretch both physically and emotionally. This is the feeling that you get right when you begin to grow as a person. Go for it!
On cross-cultural exchange: “Dominicans make you feel like family and there is no other trip that will give you a real, meaningful look into the lives of others. Dominicans open up their homes and their lives to you. This trip will make you question previous assumptions and reflect on our American values.”
Years traveled to the Dominican Republic: 2008, 2009
Current occupation: Assistant Regional Planner at Southern California Association of Governments
On making a difference: “My two trips to the D.R. impacted me on many levels, but most significantly was the dedication to public service that I returned home with. Since traveling to the DR I have developed a passion for international development, and particularly for addressing urban poverty.”
On a new perspective: “This is an incredible opportunity to see the world from a perspective that most Americans never experience. I learned more about the world in four weeks in the DR than I did in a year in many of my high school classes. Everyone should have an experience like this!”
Years traveled to the Dominican Republic: 2016, 2017
Current Occupation: Logistics Manager, Redwood Empire Food Bank
On her memories from the DR: "Every person and every place I met is special to me. I was there for only one week and I know that I have new friendships that will last a lifetime. My favorite moment: we walked to the Toma and some kids walked a few of us further down the creek bed. I thought we were just exploring, but they had made a giant mud slide and were taking turns sliding down! Jakob jumped right in line and took a turn down the slide, no hesitation at all. The smiles and laughter, cheers and excitement were contagious and stayed with me. Even now in typing this, I can't help but wear a giant grin. The extension of the invitation to Jakob and others to join in the fun, and the acceptance of strangers is not something that comes easily here at home. It was refreshing and reminded me of what it was like when I was a child, back before we behaved out of fear and instead were much more in touch with how to live out of love."
Years traveled to the Dominican Republic: 2008, 2009, and 2011
Current Occupation: Program Coordinator, Daily Acts
On authentic connection in the DR: “As a result of going to the Dominican Republic, I see my world through new eyes. I learned to see people for who they are, not by the things that they own or their appearances. In La Descubierta, everyone hugs or makes some sort of contact with the people around them on a daily basis, even when they just run into each other on the street. It doesn’t matter what a person is wearing, or how they smell, or what kind of education they have – Dominicans always make contact with each other.