Friday, May 15, 2015

Reflections on an Unforgettable Journey

I want to live an intentional life.  On purpose. With purpose.

My husband and I had so many reasons why we wanted to uproot our lives and bring our two boys to live in the Dominican Republic. As our time here comes to a close, I have been reflecting on our purpose here and how amazing it was to see all of our goals accomplished.

First, the mission of Fulbright is cultural exchange and community immersion through personal and professional relationships.  As a Fulbright student, I am proud to say that we represented our country abroad and we learned more about the Dominican Republic. We had the chance to meet and share our lives with so many people: through work, the kids’ school/daycare, soccer practice, our neighborhood. It was truly amazing.

My husband was fortunate enough to find work. He was able to have an important professional experience that will shape his future career.

Our goals for the kids (4 years old and almost 2) were that they learn Spanish, make friends, and that they learn about and appreciate a culture that is different than their own. Both boys did all of these things, and I am so proud of the way my sweet four-year-old has grown here.

For my own research, my goal was to collect data for my dissertation. I did over 50 interviews, 10 months of ethnographic observations, a community census, 3 presentations of preliminary results, and submitted a 20 page written summary of results and policy recommendations.  More importantly, a participant told me I made her feel important.

We also had personal goals for this journey.  The last time my husband and I were in the D.R., we lost his brother in a tragic accident.  We wanted a second chance to return to a place of heartache so we could find peace and joy. Not only did we find more healing, but I was also reminded that even in difficult times, we are blessed to have so many arms wrapped around us.

I can't say enough how grateful I am to those who made this experience unforgettable.