By: Madeline Pilney
While studying in the Dominican Republic for the past four months, the love that the ILAC workers and my campo family/community have given to me has had the biggest impact on me. Every morning at ILAC, I would wake up and as I got ready, all I had on my mind was making it down to breakfast as quickly as I could to receive and give my daily hugs and kisses. This is the first thing that impacted me while living here. The love I felt every time I walked into a room was overwhelming and showed me how such a small gesture can make a huge impact. Every time I passed by a worker in ILAC they greeted me and often we would chat and catch up about our lives. This is something that I find hard to find back at home; people stopping and talking to me because they truly want to know about my life.
Then as I was welcomed into my campo home, I was quickly introduced to my three siblings and parents. My parents were adamant on giving me their bed to sleep in because it was more comfortable and I would have more privacy. On top of that, I was showered with affection and after every time I left the campo to go back to the city, my dad would continue to ask me not to leave and stay with him. He would cry every time because I was leaving, even though all those times he always knew when I would return next. One of my fondest memories of the campo is the love I felt after my first time returning to the campo over my Fall Break. As we were driving up to my house, many members of my family and the community were sitting at “my” colmado (a mini store) and they began to yell and scream because they were so excited to see us again. They all ran up to the truck and greeted us as if they hadn’t seen as for ages and that they had known us their whole lives.
Little things such as the love I was shown here is something that has impacted me the most. I will always remember how spending those few extra minutes to check in on someone can have such a huge impact on a person. That the extra effort to smile at someone can put someone in a better mood and change their day. These little things are the things that I hope I am able to pass on upon returning to the states. I want to be able to love others as they have loved me.
My beautiful siblings and I :)