Thursday, November 30, 2023

Day 7: Last Work Day!

Med Clinic brought to you by Pia S. '25

    Hello my name is Pia Squatrito, this is my second year participating in the Dominican Republic service team and today, Friday the 24th I was on the medical team; working in the pharmacy. The day started by waking up bright and early, eating one last fulfilling breakfast of freshly cut fruit, crispy bacon and pancakes. Additionally we had a drink which the locals call squinchers, it is really just hydrating electrolytes! Then we loaded the buses: one for construction and one for the medical team. The loading consisted of food packages, shoes, medical supplies and lunch for our team. Today was about a 40 minute ride to reach the church in Yuma. We unloaded the bus and arranged the layout of the church to make it into separate stations. These “sections” consisted of blood pressure station, an eye doctor, a dentist, our four resident doctors from UConn, pharmacy and donations of shoes and hygiene kits. Finally we were ready to start seeing patients. The orders for prescriptions started rapidly flowing in. Mr. Gemme and I divided and conquered. We were a very good team; him answering all my questions and having good team work.  Because it was out last day the typical prescriptions started running out so it made our job harder by forcing us to use what we had left and ask the doctors for advice on what would be most similar. We worked for three and a half hours straight from around 9:30 to 1:00. Because we had been so productive at 1:00 we had lunch and were able to pack up and eat lunch. Lunch consisted of typical rice mixed with beans, meat and a crowd favorite empanadas! We headed home and quickly got dressed and headed to the beach for a celebration of our accomplishments. To end off the night and trip we presented paper plate awards to each other which brought smiles and laughter commencing the trip on a positive note! 


Construction brought to you by Gaby R. '25

After another hectic morning of breakfast, food packing, and transporting things to the bus, I headed with the construction team to Rodney Henrikson School at La Lechosa., the school we have been working at for the past week. We finished our mural that features a variety of colors and flowers, played with the school kids until it was time for them to go home, and ate our last delicious lunch made by the talented cooks at Casa Pastoral. After this, to end off our week of hard work, we took a much deserved group trip to the beach where we spent our time in the water until the very last minute. 

I have taken lots of time to reflect on my trip in the Dominican Republic this year and it is has taught me things I never expected. Our service trip this year featured many unexpected detours and experiences, teaching all of us the lessons of patience and adaptability. I have learned so many things about myself and the people around me and I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.  I am leaving the Dominican Republic with new lessons learned, new relationships, and infinite gratitude. Thank you to so much to everyone who’s supported the trip!!


Day 6: Happy Thanksgiving!



Medical Clinic brought to you by Sadie C. '24

On Thursday of our trip to the Dominican Republic, our two groups went to their respective locations. The Med Clinic went to Los Montones and the construction team went back to the school, Rodney Henrikson School at La Lechosa. I was on the construction team and we finished the second to last part of the mural we were painting, as well as touched up the mural that was already there. At about 12 we had a delicious lunch which consisted of rice with chicken, sandwiches, drinks, and cookies. As well as peanut butter and jelly with rolls and vegetables for the vegetarians. After we wrapped up lunch, and said goodbye to all the students that were leaving, we headed off to the Batey that the construction team worked on last year named “Papita.”  The drive to Papita is very rocky, and full of holes, as well as a stream that had to be crossed, with a highest depth of 2 feet. We made it across and it was the loudest cheering I had heard the whole trip. Once we arrived at Papita, we unpacked the bus full of food kits, shoes, and clothes, and made our way toward the houses. We stopped at each house to drop off a bag of food, and left with the phrase “dios de bendiga” a se tan e that brought comfort to the people of the batey. Once we had passed out all we had, we played a game of baseball with the kids of Papita. Then it was time to leave and we said our goodbyes. We headed back to Casa Pastoral and got ready for our Thanksgiving dinner at Casa de Campo. We arrived at Casa de Campo and fun fact BeyoncĂ© had a villa there. We sat by the pool and ate appetizers. We then saw the two big turkeys brought out, and we all rushed to dig in. We ate a delicious dinner of traditional American and Dominican food, followed by a big cake. We hung out and boded while swimming and basking in the moonlight. We left at around 9:30 with happiness in both our minds and bellies!!


Monday, November 27, 2023

Day 5: Work Day and BEACH!



Medical Clinic brought to you by Autumn W. '25

We woke up today excited as usual! I especially remember feeling nervous and thrilled at the same time.This is the first day I get to experience going to med clinic. The drive to the Batey was long and I could feel myself getting more anxious as we grew closer. When we pulled into the Batey and started to set up, everything started to feel real. I was doing blood pressure and didn’t know how I would interact with the Spanish speaking patients, or if I’d even be able to take the right blood pressure. But those fears had to go away once the patients started coming in. My very first patient was an older woman she spoke no English and I started to ask her the only things I knew. “ hola, commo esta?” She replied “moi bien” and then I started taking her blood pressure. I messed up the first try and started to retake it; when I was finished she motioned her hand going up, and what I assumed as her asking if she had high blood pressure. I shake my head no and she laughed then motioned to her neck being cut I shake my head no aggressively this time assuming she was thinking she was going to die because of this unknown scenario,She laughed again and stood up to take me hand. After a firm handshake she blew me a kiss and Told the group“ Muchas gracis” over and over again. Even this small gesture really opened my eyes to the world around me. Even though the work throughout the day was hard the experiences with the people made it all worth while.The new friends I made in the Dominican Republic make the trip amazing and such an exciting experience. We finished the day by heading to the beach where we got to see a beautiful sunset! 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Day 4: Work Day & Baseball!

Medical Clinic brought to you by Olivia C. '26

Today we once again woke up ready to work. The energy was high among the group and everyone was ready to work. Today I signed up to do blood pressure with Caroline and Sadie. The clinic was small and packed so blood pressure was moved outside. This meant the blood pressure crew got interact more with the kids, and there were A LOT of kids! Once the clinic finished the last people needing their blood pressure taken, I showed them a game that I learned while I was working construction the previous year. It was a simple game of clapping and counting to ten, but it was very entertaining for the kids. We started by counting in Spanish and then quickly switched to English. Many of the kids knew one-to-ten in English and for the others it was easy to learn. By then may kids had swarmed around wanting to play. Caroline joined in to play with some of the kids, but there were so many. At one point I was playing with six kids at once. It was such a feel good moment for me being able to connect with the kids - even with our language barrier. I also learned how rewarding it feels to wave goodbye to the people who attended the clinic. It feels like all the work we have done is really being appreciated, and I really hope for them it really feels like we care for them because we truly do. Even though I am tired I am so grateful that I was able to play a role in improving peoples lives, and making kids laugh and smile. Everyone on the team worked so hard today and I am proud to be part of an amazing team like this. Later we will go to a baseball game to relax and maybe learn some more about each other! 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Day 3: First work day!

 Today we have students that are going to take over the blog to share their experiences!

 Medical Clinic brought to you by Rory B. '24

Today we started off by waking up at 6:50 am for breakfast. After we fueled up, we loaded the bus with medicine, MannaPack, and shoes. We got our rest on the bus ride to the batey near Papita! When we got there we were greeted by happy faces and we made an assembly line to deliver the supplies from the bus to the church the med clinic was held in.  After we got everything in order and students set up at their job stations, we were ready to go to start seeing patients! I was set up at the blood pressure station, and read about 60 people's blood pressure. It was split up between two waves of people and I was accompanied by my fellow classmates, Sadie and Moo Paw. We finished before everyone else as blood pressure and temperature were the first things taken as patients walked into the clinic.  So after we finished, we went to help the people working in pharmacy. After that Moo Paw and I went outside to connect with the children and talk about soccer. My biggest takeaway from today was that I am very grateful for how fortunate I am and opening myself up to this new opportunity showed me how I shouldn't take what I have for granted. Spirits were high today and I can't wait to have a great day tomorrow!

Construction Site brought to you by Gabriela R.-L. '25

I woke up, got ready, and had a very nutritional breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit. After I finished I helped bring boxes of MannaPack to the med bus. We took a short ride to the school we are going to be working at for the rest of the week. Our plans got derailed, we originally hoped to work at Batey Papita, the construction site we worked at last year. Due to the weather conditions here, the storms were so bad that the road leading to Papita, wasn't safe to drive on. But despite this unexpected change of plans, we had a great day painting fences and walls in preparation for our team mural coming later this week! After a delicious lunch and some more painting, we drove into the city to tour the hospital that was built with the support of service teams just like ours! The rest of our day was spent bonding, assembling food packs, and sorting medication. The biggest lesson I learned was how to become more adaptive and flexible with what's brought to us. In our short time in the Dominican Republic this year we have learned to expect the unexpected with many delays and changes in plans, however, along with my wonderful team I am very excited for the week to come!

Day 2: packing shoes and sorting meds


After a very long travel day, we started our morning around 9 a.m. eating home made pancakes with a nice spread of fresh pineapple, papaya, and cantaloupe. Our task for today was to prep everything for this next week working in med clinics and the construction site. We sorted thousands of different medications, packed hygiene kits, and sorted through hundreds of shoes to distribute at both work sites. Around noon we stopped to eat lunch and then picked back up from where we left off. At 3:30 our work day came to an end. We all took a group trip to Jumbo to buy snacks and experience a little bit more of the Dominican Republic culture. Upon returning to Casa Pastoral, we were able to cool off and enjoy a little bit of down time. Shortly after, we ate dinner and had our first power outage of the week due to weather! We ended the night learning how to take blood pressures in the dark and preparing an English lesson plan to teach to the students at Rodney Henrickson School later in the week, but more on that to come…

Day 1: Travel day...


As all our Watkinson students and UCONN doctors assembled into the very packed dining hall, you could sense the excitement everyone was feeling as we were just hours away from embarking onto this new experience. Our day started at 9 am together, we loaded forty four, 50 lb bags onto our bus and headed off towards JFK. Despite going through super long security lines, facing numerous delays, and having to drive through flooded streets. We made it to La Romana, at 1:30 a.m. We all settled in at around 2 a.m., to rest up for our busy week ahead!