Athletics News

World Cup and Carpentry on Tuesday in Dominican Republic
July 11, 2018

SAN PEDRO de MACORIS, D.R. - Women’s soccer’s Adrian Walker and Maranda Gutierrez from the softball team write about their experiences on Tuesday of the DePaul Athletics Service Immersion Trip to the NPH home in the Dominican Republic. Heavy rains changed the plans for going to the market, so the team hopped right back to work with student-athletes volunteering in the kitchen, working with children with special needs, and cleaning, making chairs, and picture frames in the carpentry shop. The day also included lunch with the children in their homes as usual, but also included World Cup soccer and of course, a bit of play. On Wednesday, the team plans again to go to the market, more work stations, mass, and an evening movie in the park. Tuesday marked the halfway point of the trip, and the team is looking forward to a great second half.

Adrian Walker – Women’s Soccer
As these days at NPH Dominican Republic have passed I can’t help but reflect on how grateful I am for all of the cultural, social, and overall new experiences I have had the chance to have on this trip. This morning, I had the privilege to visit the special needs home here, along with three of my colleagues. Unfortunately for us, the scheduled walk along with the children in their wheelchairs was not possible due to weather, but we did not let that stop us.

Using minimal supplies such as cardboard egg containers and pipe cleaners we were able to create caterpillars with the children and art out of seemingly nothing. Although cerebral palsy and other conditions may have limited the children physically, emotionally they had no limitations. The joy on their faces when participating in these arts and crafts was indescribable. Although we only had the chance to spend the morning with them, I feel I gained a lifetime of insight. Having the opportunity to work with these children reminded me of the abilities that I and others have, that we so often take for granted. Working with these children is something I will not soon forget.

Following the work with the special needs children, I was fortunate enough to watch the World Cup match between France and Belgium. We were all invited to watch the match in the homes with the children and cheer on our respective team with enthusiasm. Upon entering the house, I immediately felt a sense of community. Although language is still a barrier, watching the soccer game together and sharing the passion for the game made this barrier unimportant. Sitting in the room with the children from the NPH home and my other DePaul colleagues made me feel so prideful and even more excited for the rest to come on the trip.

Maranda Gutierrez – Softball
Today I felt especially immersed into the culture of NPH here in the Dominican Republic because I had the opportunity to work in La Cocina and prepare meals for everyone at the home. Alongside Kelly Campbell and Ariel Davis, I chopped fruits, vegetables, meats and even smelt like garlic because a lot of our time was spent peeling it.

It felt good to know that we were sacrificing our time and energy in order to serve everyone at NPH. The women working with us in the kitchen were extremely friendly and grateful to have our company, yet they had no idea how truly impressed we were by them. These handful of women are responsible for providing food for the entire community each and every day. Although the kitchen’s conditions were consumed by extreme heat and flies, the three of us were motivated by these women’s persistence and contagious positive attitudes. At times, we wondered if we were helping them or slowing them down because they worked so efficiently. Either way, they were happy to see us trying our best and appreciated our company, as we did theirs.

At the end of our three hours of diligent labor, we were pleasantly surprised with a mango for each of us. It was honestly the best mango that I have ever had. It was also very rewarding to see our hard work pay off as our chopped foods were featured in our lunch. These ladies and their work ethic has truly inspired me.

After lunch, Kelly and I decided to help again in the kitchen instead of watching the World Cup (sorry soccer fans). There was little work available so once we completed the small tasks we were given, we moved quickly to help the men in the garden. They also had little work for us because of the rain, but we enjoyed walking around the garden and admiring the different plants after our work was completed.

Our last stop would be going to carpentry teacher Leo’s shop with Ben Gutman. His woodwork was beautiful as he had made different sculptures and chairs by hand. At the shop, we assembled chairs and it was the first time that I had ever used a nail gun and power saw. The experience made me want to build more things at home and maybe even buy a couple of power tools from The Home Depot.

Like the days before, I really enjoyed playing with the pequenos and even watching how other people in our group would interact with them. Through this experience of engaging with the pequenos on a daily basis, I have learned that kids are kids no matter where they live and that all kids want to be loved. I personally enjoyed playing basketball with the kids just as I did when I was younger. I even had the opportunity to teach them the legendary game of Knock Out (also called Lightning), as they taught me a new game that I cannot wait to share with my friends and family when I get home. This experience teaches me more every day, and I am extremely grateful and blessed to be able to do so.



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