Today marks our fifth full day in the campo. It’s amazing how quickly one can fall into routine. Although we have been here less than a week, it feels as though we are fully part of the community. Each morning we gather at the casa of Felicia for breakfast at 8:00 am. While we fill-up on a carbohydrate-loaded meal, courtesy of Felicia, we can always count on a friendly smile from Negrito, her husband and entertainment from watching little Nicole play/torture the pet goat. Then, we all jump in the pick-up for a day of challenging manual labor. Comunidad 15 is currently assisting in the construction of an aqueduct for the communities of Las Caobas, a region in the DR that is currently without a public water system. All morning, the Comunidad carries tubes, mixes cement, and climbs mountains while carrying sandbags. We gather for a customary Dominican lunch at 12:30 consisting of some variant of rice, protein, and salad. After relaxing, chatting and laughing with the Dominicans, it is back to work in the afternoon. After a few more hours of labor, each of Comunidad 15’s members returns to the casa of their host family. After relaxing and (often cold) bucket showers, the Comunidad again gathers for dinner at 6:00 pm at the casa of Felicia. “Fiesta” is probably a more appropriate term than the word “cena.” After dining on some hearty Dominican cuisine (who knew fried cheese could taste so good?), we talk, play dominos and dance with members of the community. Then, it’s back to the host casas for family time, often spent chatting, playing dominos, or watching telenovelas.
Although this week sounds like a picture right off of a postcard, it has not been without its physical and emotional struggles. Much physical exertion has been placed in the aqueduct. We have all had to come to terms of the inequality in the world and our role in it. Some have come face-to-face with their physical limitations. For some, the poignancy of homesickness has sharpened. Yet, the biggest challenge for the members of Comunidad 15 is what we are going to do when we return to the States. As easy as it is to fall into routine, it is easier to fall out of it. If one decides to only take bucket shower back in Omaha out of guilt, then the purpose of the campo has been lost. To quote JFK (or Spiderman), “With great power comes great responsibility.” As students in a Jesuit university, we have been presented with abounding opportunities: many of us aspire to become doctors, educators, social workers and more. And although we will all eventually fall out of the campo routine, we now have the responsibility to remember what the campo taught us. If we do our duty, our futures cannot help but be changed by it.
*Note: this blog entry was originally written on toliet paper.