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Days 15-17

 

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Sunday, July 31 After two very successful weeks in the Dominican Republic, the students traveling with the third group of Northern Without Borders were excited and enthusiastic to arrive in San Juan. We gathered at King Horn Field House at 1 p.m. on Friday and worked diligently to sort, organize and pack 34 suitcases filled with donated vitamins, medicines, clothes and crafts. We then left ONU and headed to the Detroit airport at 1 a.m. where we patiently waited to check our bags and board our first flight to Miami and our second to Santo Domingo. While traveling in a large group can be overwhelming and chaotic, everyone was extremely helpful and patient, enabling our travels to go smoothly. We were welcomed by our friendly guesthouse hosts, Kari and Dan, who accompanied us on our journey from the airport to a beautiful hotel in Santo Domingo. Although exhausted after pulling an all-nighter, we all explored our new environment, some participants enjoyed a swim, and we all ate pizza and shared in a relaxing evening where we were able make new friends.

After a good nights rest, we all woke up early Sunday morning to eat a delicious breakfast at the hotel and head to the guesthouse in San Juan! The ride was very scenic and entertaining. We were able to get a taste of the Dominican crazy style of driving and observe the culture. After arriving at the guesthouse, we ate a wonderful lunch prepared by the guest house staff and then had orientation. We then went straight to work unpacking all of the suitcases and counting pills for the week. We again enjoyed a delicious dinner and then met the Dominican physicians we will be spending time with this week. Additionally, some of the pre-dental and pre-med students were able to watch Dr. Schoonmaker, an American oral surgeon, remove wisdom teeth. We ended the evening by practicing taking blood pressures and prepping materials for our first day of work in the clinic.

Unlike the other two groups, we did not attend a church service on Sunday. Therefore, we were able to thoroughly prepare for the week. We have quite a few members who participated in previous trips to the DR this summer; therefore, we are very organized, well prepared, and motivated to work and enjoy our week in San Juan. We also are very lucky to be traveling with some students from Washington and Jefferson College, who seem just as enthusiastic as us! This is my second year traveling to San Juan, and so far the trip has been just as memorable as last year. I have already met knew people and cannot wait for friendships to grow over the week! Most participants have not traveled to the Dominican before and I am so excited for them to share in the wonderful culture. All the Solid Rock employees at the guesthouse are amazing! They are more than helpful and extremely passionate about their mission work, setting an excellent example for us to follow this week. I’m looking forward to a week of work, learning and fun!

—Natalie Coppola
Junior, Pharmacy
Buffalo, New York