¡Una semana más en la República Dominicana! One more week in the Dominican Republic! I have been experiencing so many different emotions lately. I am excited to return to Buffalo to see my family and friends, but my heart breaks when I think about saying goodbye to the children at the school. I am also proud of the work that I have accomplished thus far, but I feel that there is so much I still want to do with my students. Whether I’m ready or not, the end is nearing. I was speaking with my Aunt Mary a couple weeks ago, and I expressed to her that I find myself getting caught up in my worries about leaving. Will someone else take on my caseload? Will my students be upset with me for leaving? She reminded me that it is much better to be sad about leaving than feeling anxious to go. I realized that I should focus on enjoying the rest of my time here and cherishing every moment with my students. There are also ways to plan for my transition out of the school; I recently met with the school psychologist and the other social work intern to make sure they would be able to continue meeting with the students on my caseload. In addition, I told my students in the beginning of March that I have to return to the U.S. in April. One student responded, “¿Por qué, profe? No. Te quedas aquí.” “Why, teacher? No. You’re staying here.” I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to build relationships with these intelligent, funny, loving human beings.
Last week we held a ceremony for the students who were chosen to be “Estrellas de la Semana.” Everything went as planned, and the students were beaming with pride as they shook the principal’s hand and received their certificates. The next day I found out that it was causing issues in some of the classes. I was told that a couple parents came to the school asking why their child didn’t win. I anticipated a bit of jealousy from the other students, but I did not expect that it would result in an angry visit from the parents! I created the program as a positive way to motivate the students, but I was worried that it was doing more harm than good. I met with the principal and teachers to get their feedback. For the most part, they had positive reactions. Many agreed that there was a bit of jealousy from the other students, but they also feel that it is a way to teach the students that they must work towards achieving a goal. After having this discussion, I couldn’t help but laugh. As with anything in life, you are never going to please everyone. As long as I have support from the school staff and it is a positive experience for the students, I will do my best to make sure the program continues after I leave.
One of the most memorable parts of my time here is when my family came to visit me. My mom, dad, sister, Carolyn, and her boyfriend, James visited the school and took a tour of Batey Lechería before we traveled to Samaná for the weekend. I could write an essay about all of the activities we did in just five days, but I will keep it short and mention the highlight of the trip – James surprised Carolyn with a proposal on the beach, ¡y están comprometidos! (They’re engaged!) The title of this blog post means, “She said yes!” I am so happy that James will soon be my cuñado, brother-in-law, my parents will have un hijo, a son, and my sister is especially happy that he will be her esposo, husband.