After the Escojo conference, I returned back to my site, but was still feeling an itching fever to get out of Pimentel
. The opportunity came when my friend Kristine, a business volunteer who lives in a trendy tourist beach site called Las Terrenas asked for volunteers to help out with a summer camp her organization was putting on. I packed my bags once again. It was the best thing I could have done for myslef. Las Terrenas is one of the most beautiful sites in the DR and I was transported into another world. I stayed with some UCLA grad students who were there for an internship in their hotel. For three days I went and helped out with the camp, which was for poor Dominican children living in Las Terrenas to promote self esteem among other things. The camp housed about 100 kids from ages 7 to 18. I gave a talk on teamwork and gender awareness and the kids responded to me and listened. We made arts and crafts and laughed and danced. I felt these kids were far more receptive than the kids in Pimentel and for that I finally felt like I had done something worthwhile.
At night we watched the sunset on the beach and I felt calm and stress-free...something I havenīt felt for a very long time.
So after weeks of trying to prepare my Escojo groups to go to the Escojo conference where we would learn new skills to present our information on AIDS, I ended up with one willing youth from my Los Limones group. I was thouroughly disappointed that only one person could come, but made the best of the situation. I was also suffering from my monthly bout of diahrreah which lasted the entire conference. Otherwise, it was a really positive experience where we all learned quite a bit. We traveled to La Vega, which is about an hour and a half from Pimentel, and to a retreat center on top of a mountain. It was actually quite chilly for once. The opportunity to spend time with other volunteers was what made it worth it. I got the chance to see that many volunteers are suffering bouts of frustration in their work as well, and we got the chance to talk about our problems and possible resolutions.