This Friday, our team from Duquesne, alongside our friends from the Dominican Republic and the kids we are mentoring presented the dances that we worked on all week long in front of an enthusiastic audience made up of proud parents and grandparents.
As one of the leaders of the dance team, it was especially great for me to see the kids deliver beautiful performances that were followed by loud applauses from their campmates and families. However, as I watched the little boys from the yellow team, the little girls from the orange team, the big boys from the blue team, and finally the big girls from the green team dance, it hit me that today really is the last day of camp, and that tomorrow, I will not spend my morning with Roy and Maddy teaching mini choreographies to excited little boys and girls, and hug them goodbye as the move on to their next camp activities.
It is often said that when you take a journey, it is not the destination that is the most important but instead, it is the trip itself, all the things that happen between the departure and the arrival, and after today, I could not agree more. Looking back to the first day of camp a few days ago, and all the days that lead to today, I vividly remember all the kids yelling my name in unison after I presented myself to them for the first time. I remember them fiercely concentrating on the dance moves that we were teaching them. I remember them laughing delightfully whenever they remembered all the steps to a choreography and we gave them high fives. I remember the little girl crying during practice because she was afraid that she would end up not doing well in front of her parents during the final presentation and my teammates and I trying to reassure her that everything would be okay. I remember all the kids jumping to fit in the group pictures at the end of our dance sessions.
Outside of camp, I remember my teammates and I going crazy over the delicious mangoes that father Don brought us, I remember us climbing the steep steps of the cathedral of San Juan and gazing in awe at the beautiful view once we reached the top. Finally I remember Michaele, a 9 year old boy that I met one night at San Miguel high school. For as much as he tried Michaele could not remember my name during the whole time we spent together that night listening to music and running together. I remember him not only because he made my night that day with his welcoming and easygoing attitude, but also because at the end of that night, he asked for my name one more time and promised that he would not forget it again. The next day he came all the way to the camp (he was not a part of camp) to let me know that he had not forgotten my name and that he never would again.
I remember so many other moments that instigated genuine laughter, pushed us to try new things, learn from each other and helped to create strong friendships. I lived all those moments with joy and excitement, and today, as I watched my friend and teammate Roy’s eyes fill with tears at the end of our final presentation, when he also realized that this experience will be ending soon, I was happy and proud to realize that this experience will forever be as special and unforgettable for the friends we made here in the Dominican republic as it will be for my fellow Duquesne mates and I.