I’m sitting by the pool, right where Freddy and Samuel would always sit to have their daily chats. Its 7:43pm and our last group is in the dining area watching Poverty Inc. Its cloudy but the clouds are parting ways to make room for the stars to shine. We miss you. You guys made your mark so strong on us this summer. Your spirit gave us strength to finish off the summer strong and made us super grateful to have shared so many amazing moments with a group of 24 awesome kids, group B kids “ahhhhhhhhh- yeah” (use Chelsea voice).
Erin, thank you for having your birthday during the program and allowing us into your heart on your special day, because of you the group got to taste the glory that is Dominican cake. Helen, girl you rocked that limited time only cast like nobody’s business (Jonathan wants you to know that you can wear his shoes anytime)! Didn’t even shed a tear about any of it, that strength was definitely inspiring. CK! I keep watching all the snaps of you beating us all in arm wrestling on that clinic day! Anna, my child! I see so much of myself in you, thank you for sharing the light you have with the rest of us and being hilarious. Arianna, you are such a graceful and intelligent young lady, thank you for holding Group B down during the marketing interview (you too CK)! Sarah, what would I have done without you? My brain would of exploded from translating for sure. Thanks for being a good sport about helping in every way, you were like an extension of the staff at times.
Cassidy, I can’t believe that you were able to maintain such a positive demeanor and be a such a team player despite what was going on at home, girl you are a solider. O and you are hilarious. Lil Camy Vert! Boy did you come out of that shell during the last days, it was super fun to get to know your sense of humor. Bella, how is it that you only every single song played? You were truly a pleasure to be around, you made us not fear the word “teenager”. Miaaaa, thank you for singing to us, your voice is so beautiful (we’ll also thank the paint company for giving you that extra courage to sing all Disney songs!).
Lauren Minutella, the last one to shower, not sure if you know this but you and Juelz, Long Hair Don’t Care, brought the staff so much calm. We’d look at you both and just know that anything that seemed stressful at the moment would pass. Kelly, I really saw you shine during that last brigade, it made me very proud of you and I hope that this experience taught you more about yourself and interests. Chelsea also wants to say thank you to you and Lauren M. (Sarah and Erin too) for keeping her in shape with your morning workouts ☺.
Theo, gosh did you have to steal everyone’s heart? You were a true pleasure to be around and you added so much value to our group, I think you were a big connecting force and you might not have even realized it, keep shining my bruthah, middle finger up to the rest. Mikelle, you kept us on our toes with your curiosity, that will take you far my dear, keep pushing (and lifting), I know that you will make the most out of the experiences you carve out for your life. Olivia, Emily, could you guys be any funnier? Glad I get to share my name with such a cool, down to earth gal, that’s definitely an Emily thing. And Olivia, I can still see you pop, lock, and drop it by the pool, ya’ got skills boo!
Lindsay, when you make it big I’d like my Broadway tickets mailed to my doorstep, not very fond of electronic tickets, thanks! Kruthi, the story of your parents is inspiring, you are very lucky to have that, really good late night talk we shared, keep wanting more dude. Liv, I saw you step up so many times during this trip, I think you might have volunteered to do everything, super great quality to have. Hannah and Hadley, you are guys were kind of like adults, chill, sweet, responsible, it was beautiful to hear about the friendship you guys developed on this trip. Lauren F., both Giselle and I enjoyed the insightful conversations that we shared with you, you are so mature and clear headed, you left us very impressed with your ability to absorb the world around you.
And can’t forget about the extra time I got to spend with Julia at the Comfort Inn dawggg! Luxury suits for our tired behinds after a long day of airport fun, it was hilarious to be deliriously tired with you.
You guys were definitely the most social group we’ve had, dangerously social! Haha jkkk. From taking over the River at Los Patos to stealing the heart of the kids in Cachon and brigades. Btw, you guys rocked those medical brigades, seamlessly. No patients, no problem, you became the embodiment of “Rolling with the punches”, and we thank you for that.
Did I already say that we miss you guys? You are all stars, really really really shiny ones. I hope that this journey stays with you forever and that you always remember to be present; that these experiences, no matter how they come about or what happens in the mist of it all, shape the leaders that you are all becoming. As always, remember to be kind and value what you have, save water and don’t litter. Be compassionate, and let yourselves be heard. You rock, see you on the flip side.
Your super grateful Director and… mom,
-Emily Mercedes Castro – @emilyfemily_