It’s late and I still have to pack, but it’s hard to say goodbye to this country and to this experience. We spent three days in Majagual, a community nestled in the mountains in the north. The scenery was incredible: sweeping verdant valleys, a glimpse of the ocean in the distance and a sky dusted with stars at night.

But the true beauty came in the warmth of the people who welcomed us into their homes. We each stayed with a family, and I think I finally begin to understand Dominican hospitality. I was given the best room, the best chair, wonderful coffee. Nothing was too much. My multi-generational family had mi madre, a truly gracious, warm woman; her husband; two older women and mi madre’s three grandchildren: Eduardo, 15; Maria 9; and Kennedy 5. Eduardo was my escort — he would walk over the hills to the house where we ate our meals and always appeared at the time to walk me back to my home there. Maria, Kennedy and I played an endless game: Kennedy would hold up a playing card and I would say the Spanish word for that number ( often mangling it.) When it was the ace, all three of us would yell out UNO! and touch our index fingers, E.T. style. It was cause for much laughter every time. 

We  split into teams and poured concrete floors. We shoveled sand and cement, mixed the concrete and carried buckets of concrete inside to the floor During breaks we admired the rooster — the best one ever — exclaimed over big and little pigs Santiago, a young Dominican man who worked with us left us in awe — he did three times the work of all of us, yet let us try and help. 

The work was hard and hot, but rewarding. A small way for us to offer some of ourselves to these people who had been so kind. 

There’s more to come as we begin working on our video next week. The students and the faculty have been amazing. 




Carol Zuegner

About Carol Zuegner

I am a journalism professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. I teach writing, social media, media entrepreneurship, international mass communication and I am lucky enough to be a part of Backpack Journalism. I focus on interviewing, writing and being Mama Zoogs.

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