Registered: December 2014
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I had the once in a lifetime chance to be able to go on a mission trip with my church, Timberlake Church, and the organization Children of the Nations from December 27th-January 4th 2013 to the Dominican Republic to serve a small community in Barahona. I chose this as my senior project because volunteering has always been a passion of mine and I wanted to be able to use my skills and talents to help others. After weeks of talking to my pastor and COTN staff and considering my passion for environmental sciences we decided that I could start a recycling program in the village we would be working in, Los Robles.
I spent the remaining months preparing for the trip. I sent out support letters to family, friends, and even recycling companies to help sponsor the trip that would end up being around $2,500. I also sent out requests for any donations, because along with my recycling program, the team I went down with would also be pouring cement floors, holding a volleyball camp, and hosting a quinceñera. It was incredible to see how willing people were to help my team and I, and by the time I left in December I had a large suitcase full of donations and only had to pay $200 out of pocket. While preparing I also had to spend a lot of time researching the environmental conditions in Barahona, Dominican Republic, and the recycling center near there. As it turned out litter was a huge problem in the towns and because the majority of the litter came from plastic, there was a multitude of chemicals being leached from the plastic into the groundwater, and into their drinking water. After reading this I was even more excited to put this project into action, knowing the positive outcomes that would come from it.
While in the Dominican Republic I put together a team of five other people from my group and worked with the pastor of the village, Los Robles and the leader of the environmental club there to decide where we would place the bins. Together we were able to install seven recycling bins that were attached to a frame built into the ground so that no one would be able to steal them. After installing the bins I gave a short presentation to the people of Los Robles about what they can recycle and why it is so important. I met so many wonderful people through this experience, some of whom I am still in touch with and can receive updates about the bins. It was amazing to see how these small actions could impact not only this region’s environment, but how the people of Los Robles can now take this new knowledge to improve their community’s environment and others, for many years to come.
After completing this trip I have not only come away with unbelievable experiences and memories, but a new appreciation for things. The people I met in Barahona taught me more than I could ever imagine, and although I didn’t know them long, they were more than willing to help me because, as our translator told me, “we are all brothers and sisters in Christ”. I have taken away so many life lessons like that one and I truly believe that this trip made me a better person and stronger Christian. I was also able to see how impactful my passion for environmental science was to this community. It was incredible to already start working towards my dream of becoming a conservation biologist and after seeing the amazing outcome of the recycling bins, I know this is a career I will pursue with all of my heart. I have a passion for changing the world and my senior project gave me the opportunity to do that. To me it was much more than a senior project; it was the start of a new set of dreams and goals that I cannot wait to continue pursuing throughout college and beyond.