Softball superstar Tatiana Chunis traveled to one of the most popular vacation destinations for a month this past summer. She wasn't working on her tan, rather teaching the sports she loves to the children of the Dominican Republic as an intern at the Esperanza Project.
Chunis' trip was made possible with support from the Theodore H. Barth Foundation, which provides $2500 to Clark University undergrads who are working at summer internships in the non-profit sector.
I don't know exactly what I want to do, but I do know that I want to work with children who have special needs.
Location Of Your Summer Trip:
Cabrera, Dominican Republic
Explain Your Trip:
I went to the Dominican Republic to volunteer in a summer camp for children ages 4-16. The camp was free for the children of the town and ran Monday through Friday. I was in charge of the baseball and field hockey center within the camp, creating teams and organizing games for children of all ages. It was challenging becasue of the language barrier, however learning the language while bonding with the kids in the camp was amazing. After camp and on the weekends, I was able to explore the beaches and country surrounding the town that I was living in.
What was the best thing about your trip?
The best thing about my trip was being able to make an impact on so many lives. Through playing baseball, I was able to establish relationships with kids that are not as fortunate as I am.
How did this trip come about?
I found this trip through the LEEP Project and was able to fund the trip because of the Barth Scholarship award.
What was something you learned during this trip that will stay with you forever?
One thing that I learned while in the Dominican that will stay with me forever is to appreciate the small things in life. Friendships and relationships are much more important than materialistic goods and there are people all over the world that are so happy with having nothing, because they have each other. I definitely learned to appreciate the people and things around me a lot more.
How did this journey help shape your career aspirations?
This trip helped me realize that working with kids truly is my passion and reassured me in that working with kids would be the correct career path for me.
How long was the trip?
I was in the Dominican Republic for a month.
Did you have any fears or reservations about taking the trip?
When I left, I was afraid of being away from home for an entire month in a country that doesn't speak English. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to communicate with the kids or locals in town, however I picked up Spanish really quickly and was able to communicate effectively with the help of other volunteers and some locals.
What did you miss most about America while you were gone?
I missed my friends and family a lot. I didn't have service while I was there and WiFi was difficult to find so being able to talk to my family wasn't always easy.
Now that you are back, what do you miss most about the DR?
I miss all the wonderful people I met while I was in there. I made lifelong friends while I was there. I also miss the laid back lifestyle that the Dominicans have. There's never any rush to be somewhere and everyone is always so happy. Most of all, I miss seeing the kids every day and receiving hugs from them while in camp.