After three weeks living with Dominican families, the participants of Session A were reunited in a convent in San Juan de la Maguana. Leaving community had been bittersweet. As participants lugged their baggage in and out of vans, greeted old friends, and swapped stories about their summers, they experienced both excitement to see their families and sadness to leave. Some were proud of what they had achieved, and others longed for an extra week or two to continue building relationships. Many listed off the food items they intended to eat immediately upon their return, simultaneously mourning the loss of tostones and freshly squeezed chinola juice.
While each participant felt their own unique mix of sentiments, most looked forward to a nice day at the beach to unwind. It just so happened that the particular day that had been set aside for beach fun was also the day that strong storms passed through the Dominican Republic. Debriefing was a success nonetheless. It rained uncharacteristically hard, but participants still frolicked in the sand during a brief respite from the bad weather. While they couldn’t swim due to safety concerns, they made the best of a beautiful view, the last few hours with their partners, and the opportunity to show off their finely tuned volleyball skills.
Like the day at the beach, the summer had some unexpected moments. Participants had to problem solve when things did not go as anticipated. Even the most successful volunteers dealt with uncomfortable situations, cultural adjustment, and surprising turns of events. There is no such thing as a “smooth” AMIGOS summer—there is always a new challenge to take on. However, everyone found many moments of fun. Session A was an enormous success. Congratulations!