Thursday, December 13, 2012

Heroism in the Dominican Republic

One of the four pillars to being a great leader is to be a hero. We usually associate Superman or Hercules to what it means to be a hero. The problem with that is that they are both fairytale characters who demonstrate inhuman powers like super strength which gives the idea that you need god-like qualities in order to be a hero. When I think of a hero I think of concrete values that emanate from a person, values in which they're willing to fight for. I think that is more difficult than showing your super strength. It's difficult because that doesn't always mean you'll have people backing you up; you may feel alone which is why being a hero is one of the hardest things a person can do. It doesn't always mean doing something as drastic as risking your life to save another. Heroism can be shown in the smallest of ways; by standing up for the kid at school who is being bullied or standing for something you believe in when it goes against what everyone else believes.

In my experience in the Dominican Republic, I feel I showed heroism at my service site among other places. I went to Hospicio which is a home for the elderly. The majority of the residents there were picked up by the gracious nuns and nurses that run it, meaning they don't have family. And the ones that do have family are not visited by them and feel very alone. My short four hours a week playing dominoes, coloring, and talking with them was not a chore but fun, easy and something I looked forward to. I didn't feel like I was being a hero, but to them I was. To some, I was their only 'family' and even though I was only there four hours each week, I think it was much more to them than just playing dominoes and coloring.

I think that another aspect to being a hero is to be attentive to seeing what is needed and trying to fill those needs. Sometimes making the smallest changes can make the biggest differences. Sometimes all you need to have patience and be alert to be able to see where these differences can be made.

Here in the Dominican Republic I learned what it was to be a hero. I learned it through the interactions I had with the children at a school that I taught at and trying to find what was needed from me. My responsibility at the school was teaching the children how to speak and write in English on a basic level. This was a little scary for me at first because I had never taught children English or any other language for that matter so at times I felt like I was not successful. However, I found that I had to have patience in myself as I tried to see what things these children most needed from me. With that patience I was able to push through and reach out to them on a deeper level. After learning about them from talking to them and with my supervisor, I found that many of them needed love because they did not necessarily receive it at home. With that, I tried to demonstrate love to them through the words I taught them and how I treated them because I wanted them to feel loved. 

~Sarah Jerome and Victoria Garaycochea (: 

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