Well, like through every experience that I’ve had in my 21 years and four months of life, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person throughout my six weeks in the Dominican Republic. I came into this internship planning to teach preschool day camp three times a week. The reality is that I did this for a total of only 9 days throughout my internship! Trust me, I did work, but I learned that I am way more flexible and laid-back than I ever let myself be in the U.S. I was able to just relax into my position in my internship and do whatever was needed of me and because of that, I was able to participate in clinics, work in preschools, start a new preschool, hike to make a list of all of the preschool aged kids in the mountain, throw a graduation ceremony for preschoolers, lead two college groups and one high school group of volunteers from the U.S., and even more yet.
Outside of work I learned that I LOVE to dance! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! At home I dread dancing and avoid it at all costs, but during my time in the D.R. I really allowed myself to step out of my comfort zone and just live whatever each moment brought to me. I’m happy to say that by the end of my experience here in the D.R. I have found myself much more comfortable in my skin and more easily able to enjoy the moment. I have danced at a discoteca, on the beach, in a pool, in the bed of a truck, in my living room and mid-walk on the side of the road with a neighbor. I love it and I hope that I can continue dancing through the moments of my life, enjoying everything and never taking anyone or anything for granted.
I also learned that I am much more capable of working with 3-5 year olds than I imagined. To be honest, my first day with the kiddos was a shocker and I worried that my proposal of being a preschool teacher really wasn’t for me. I was nervous that I had gotten myself into something that I was going to really struggle with. The first day was overwhelming with a group of 30 kids between ages 2-8, the majority 2 year olds. I had to really hold back all of my emotions in order to not find myself overwhelmed and in tears. However, I went into day two with a better game plan and it went amazing. With each day I learned a little more about my teaching style and how to work with the younger aged kids and I improved. By the end of last week with the kids, I was sad to go. I love my kiddos and I would love to have been able to stay to watch them grow up. By the last day I realized that I had learned all of their names, I could tell you which kids would eat more snack than the others, I was aware of which kids needed more attention and which ones required some space or alone time. I knew my students each individually and I was so grateful.
This experience has taught me that I can conquer whatever life throws at me as long as I remain flexible and keep an open mind. I am an extremely capable young woman if I just allow myself to feel a little overwhelmed or uncomfortable at first. There’s always room for growth.
So, my game plan for life? Dance in the space that I have been given to grow as an individual.