Reassuring My Calling

Posted by Annelise Wilp on

Annelise Wilp
Organizational Communication and Spanish
Intercultural Communication & Ethnography in the Dominican Republic, Spring 2018

Local people walking in a village during day.I never expected that I would be so lucky to study abroad three times during my time at Western, but here I am. When my professor promoted his intercultural communication and ethnography spring break program in the Dominican Republic, I knew that I had to go. So, I applied and hoped for the best, not realizing how my week in the DR would impact my life for years to come.

A group of local school children with WMU students, smiling at the camera.At first I thought this would be a fun, relaxing spring break in the tropical place, and a nice break during a stressful final semester at WMU. But it was so much more than that. During our 8 days in the DR, we have made so many cultural connections that I never thought would be possible in such a short period of time. We met Western alumni in Santo Domingo, and updated them on what is going on at Western (they really want to try The Valley Dining Center!). We played games with children in a Haitian community, and served lunch in a nutrition center in Santiago. In Santiago, we explored GO Ministries, which has been providing the community with schools, churches, nutrition centers, sports facilities, and pristine medical clinics. This was the most impactful part of the trip for me, and reassured me of my calling to serve others abroad.

I believe that the best way to experience a culture through food, and even better, a homemade meal. Our TA invited us to his grandmother’s house, where we ate the best meal we had eaten the entire week. Moreover, we were able to see the familial aspect of the DR, and that family ties are strong anywhere you go.

I got so much more out of this trip than I could have ever imagined. With only six weeks left until graduation, I feel that I can push through now that I have had this refreshing experience. Clicking the apply button was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, so if you are eyeing a program but have second thoughts, just do it. You have no idea what impact it will have on your life.