UnFATHOMable. That’s the perfect word to describe my trip with Sapna to the Dominican Republic with Fathom. I still don’t know where to begin, but I will try my best to describe this amazing experience. On our way to the DR, there were plenty of workshops on the Adonia (ship) to prepare us for the impact activities we would be participating in during the week. I took a Spanish class to refresh some conversational skills, brushed up on some English language skills to teach in a community home and attended a Humans of New York style workshop where I shared a story about myself that I never could talk about with a stranger and it turned out to be one of the greatest things I have ever done. Thank you Lucee for poking for more information.
There were many activities on the ship every day including exercise classes, painting, pool time, wellness classes, music from the house band and locals and many many other activities. We also met with our small group several times throughout the trip and this was a nice way to get to know other passengers and to learn about the impact activities and get an in depth look at how we were making a difference. Our group leader, Francisco, was a great source of information and during one of his presentations, there was a quote that stuck with me. He said, “Our ripple makes a wave a change.” That is Fathom’s goal: travel with purpose and to transform lives. Impact travel is fairly a new concept that brings people together to be immersed in another culture and to create lasting impressions on the people and land.
I chose to participate in three impact activities: teaching community English in a home, helping lay concrete in a home and planting seeds at a nursery to help reforestation. I chose these activities because I felt they would leave a long lasting impression on the DR. There were other activities to participate in, but these were just what I wanted to help with. Since I have never volunteered on this level before, I felt that all the activities were fulfilling and the people involved were all amazing and patient with us.
The Adonia’s deck was the place to be at and our Fathom guides were all amazing!!!
The first views of the Dominican Republic were just so stunning.Arriving at Amber Cove.Aboard the Adonia about to step off onto the island.
My first impact activity was teaching English in a community home. We got off the shuttle and met members of Puerto Plata at a church. We were greeted with songs and everybody was just so friendly and welcoming. Never did I think we would receive such a warm welcome. We met our family members and were led to their homes. The objective was to teach them the parts of the body in English, but they taught me more than I taught them. As a teacher for the past ten years, this was one of the most rewarding teaching experiences I have ever had. I was so moved by how the ladies were really determined and not afraid to make mistakes. They were the best students! During our time together, there were neighbors popping in to see us, which was quite cute and really moving. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to experience such an impactful cultural immersion experience.
My second impact activity was laying concrete in a home. In the DR, having a concrete floor in your home is a luxury. You would never think that people don’t have a floor in their home, but it’s really expensive to have one. This was the most rewarding activity I participated in because we literally helped change a family’s life forever. The family we helped built their home out of palettes and you would have never known what condition they lived in because they were so nice and friendly and so grateful for what they had. Their little boy was playing amongst us as we worked and he was so cute. His parents thanked us so many times because now their little boy can play inside their home and not catch diseases because of the dirt. They were all so happy even though they didn’t have the best living conditions. It really made me appreciate life and to remember that happiness comes first and not stuff. All the community members came together to help this family and I loved that. I could just feel the love and support amongst everybody. Even though it was a lot of heavy lifting and a lot of sweating, it was worth every smile on the family’s faces.
Sapna & I in the midst of passing cement buckets.The crew.And more of the crew. We worked along Fathom guides and IDDI members (a group in the DR that works alongside Fathom to better communities).A neighbor’s home.Some new friends.
My last impact activity was reforestation. I planted seedlings at a local nursery that would later be planted by other groups. My green thumb isn’t really the best, but I never knew that I would have so much fun planting. My first two activities directly impacted people right away, but I wanted to do something that would have a longer impact and just because I didn’t see immediate results, I know that in the long run, growing seedlings will help a lot in many aspects of the community. Asides, planting and digging up small plants to be planted somewhere more fertile, we took a little hike on a mountain and ate fresh mangos right off a tree; quite possibly the best mango I have ever eaten in my life.
I’m truly grateful for this opportunity that I had to travel with Fathom. I never guessed in a million years, that starting my blog about what I wear almost four years ago that it would take me to the Dominican Republic, meet so many new people and to make a difference in people’s lives. I will forever cherish all my memories and hope to continue impact travel.
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