Every time an Ambassador or a Fellow completes their internship we see how they've grown from their experience. Whether it's language capabilities, adventurous eating habits, developing health education programs, or any other skill they learn while at the project site, it's incredible to see how life changing this experience is! Amy Vanderstoep began her adventure in September of 2015, and her time with the team at Project Restauración has now come to an end. Below is a letter she wrote to herself in her last days in the Dominican Republic as she reflected on her Fellowship:
Dear August 2015 Amy,
What a grand adventure you’re about to embark on! I wish I was back in August with you so that I could do it all again! I know you’re nervous because, well… I’ve been in your position. But I just want to calm your fears. It’s going to be okay. In fact, it’s going to be better than okay; it’s going to be amazing!
I know that your biggest fear is tackling the language barrier that traveling to the Dominican Republic represents. I’m going to be honest with you: you are going to have times when you are incredibly frustrated. You are not going to be an expert immediately and I know this will be a struggle as you see other people able to communicate while you are still learning. But don’t worry, your host family and the people in the community who care about you are patient. They will continue to love and care for you as you invest your time in this new skill. Within a few months you will be able to have conversations. A few months later, you will feel comfortable traveling anywhere in this wonderful country by yourself. By the end of your time here, you will be having thoughts and dreams in Spanish and even your quick responses will be en español! (You many also start conversing with animals in Spanish… don’t worry, not everyone will think that you’ve lost it…) Push through your frustrations because there a lot for you to learn and it will all be worth it!
I also know that you’ve never done work exactly like this before. You haven’t been directly involved in curriculum development or health education before. Again, it’s all going to be okay! Trust in the skills and knowledge that you have gained throughout your high school and college experiences and you will learn to apply them to these new experiences! I just got finished transferring all of my work onto the FIMRC computer and there are so many exciting development projects ahead. You are going to learn so much about health development and about program implementation and management! It’s so exciting!
You have so much to look forward to Amy! Riding in the back of a pick-up truck. Implementing your own education program. Forming close relationships with locals and FIMRC participants. Getting adopted into several Dominican families. Learning a new language. Eating more rice and beans than you thought possible. Meeting hordes of adorable children who are so excited to be your pal. And creating hundreds of memories that will last you a lifetime.
You are going to learn so many lessons in these next nine months! The only advice that I have for you right now is to focus on all of the positive experiences that you are having. Don’t let yourself get discouraged! There is so much beauty in the nature, in the people, and in the experiences around you. Find that beauty and you will find joy in the Dominican Republic! As the future you, I know you are going to enjoy these formative months and I am so glad that you found and chose FIMRC!
Enjoy your experience! Have fun! Be happy!
All the best,
June 2016 Amy