My daughter came back from the Dominican Republic on Friday. She had been there for a week with a group of eight other girls and a couple of teachers from her school.
The previous Friday I had been part of a very Canadian scene. It was 5.30 am, it was still very dark and cold enough that we could see our breaths. We had gathered to see our daughters off, and as I stood waving at the departing big yellow school bus that was taking them to the Toronto Airport, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of apprehension.
I realize that sending my daughter to the Dominican Republic wasn't the same as sending her to Rwanda or anywhere like that, but still, I can be a bit of a worrywart.
The girls were going to stay with families in the DR, in a relatively poor area. They were going to experience a week of life under vastly different conditions. Of course, they were chaperoned everywhere, and their safety was never compromised, but still, it was an eye-opening experience for them. They were going to see how different communities operated.
They had all worked very hard to pay for this trip by raising funds. This trip was the culmination of almost two years of effort from these girls, and all nine of them worked very hard to be able to pay for as much of it themselves as they could (with some help from moms and dads). I was very proud of the night that they hosted a dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Trenton and sold every single ticket.
I had to pick her up on Friday night at the school. I'll admit that I was very relieved when the bus pulled into the parking lot and Sarah ran down the steps to give her brother a hug. All the girls tumbled out of the bus with their hair in cornrows.
I haven't asked her too many questions about he trip yet. I'm sure it will take some days for her to process all that she saw. It's just too easy to expect her to say that she has gained a greater appreciation for all the things that we as North Americans have. I'm sure that the experience taught her much more profound lessons than that.
I really think that more of our young people should have an opportunity to experience a trip like that. It should really become a greater priority for us as a society. The cost isn't really all that much, and I'm sure that the lessons learned will end up being priceless to the children, and the effects will ripple out to the benefit of our communities as a whole.
I can think about all that later, for now, I'm just happy to have Sarah home.