A JUAN-Of-A-Kind Day

Arriving to the baseball field in the morning, we came in ready to work. I was clueless as to what the tasks exactly would be, but ready to help them build bathrooms. When I learned we would also be painting the dugouts today, I was ready to go- I loved it when I painted the walls of my room. I helped with the bathroom construction less than with painting; it was physically demanding amd they needed more people painting. As we worked on painting the dugouts, kids from the community joined in and started painting as well. It was amazing to see their excitement about the renovation; baseball is their main recreational activity and it’s huge in the Dominican Republic. They play on the field regularly and love it. I realized that while they may live with less than we do, their enthusiasm about life surpasses ours.

After lunch, we split up due to a lack of blue paint for the dugouts. I worked on painting the community’s recreational center, where we needed to paint white over red. It seemed like a tedious task, but I had even more fun with it. The English teacher from the Cigar Family school explained to us the importance of the center to the community: all their events, meetings, and festivals were held here. The importance of our work became even more apparent. In fact, a 9 day festival celebrating and honoring their patrons would be celebrated here next month!

Anyway, aside from the actual service project, I JUANce again got the opportunity to practice my Spanish. Although I struggle with the vocabulary, I’ve thus far managed to either ask Juan to translate or guess the Spanish translation. They laugh at me when I invent a nonexistent word, but it’s all good because I’m having fun. The srruggle to communicate with other people gives me a perspective of how difficult it is for immigrants to fare in America, where most people are monolingual with English.

And lastly, Juan of the best parts of today were the Juan puns. While some steered the conversation in JUAN direction, others pushed it in a NHU direction. You’re probably intruigued- JUANna hear more? See Brendan’s post.  You’ll love it.

You enjoyed it, right? I TO-YA!

Puns aside, over the course of the past few days, I’ve really bonded with everyone here. From playing Mafia at night to the hour long bus rides, we’ve gotten to know each other quite well. I’m really looking forward to returning to the rec center tomorrow to finish what we started. I’ve enjoyed the painting a lot, and knowing that it makes others happy is very fulfilling.

- Vishwa Shah