University of Virginia student, Tessa Danehy, shares about her experience living and working in the community of Arroyo de Leche in the Dominican Republic.  

I am truly so thankful for Comunidad Connect and everything their organization did to make this research trip a once in a lifetime experience. Our 4-person group from the University of Virginia was quickly swept up into the community of Arroyo de Leche in the Dominican Republic, building and testing water filters during the day and spending time with neighbors at night. We went to study a new design of the biosand filter, but we left with much more than just our data- new friendships, new experiences, and new perspectives accompanied us home.

One thing that really stood out to me was the beautiful generosity of everyone in the community- every day I was offered something new. I complimented someone’s horse and they jumped off and said “Please! Take her for a ride!”. I loved the fluffy baby chicks at one of the houses where we were building a filter and their owner said I could just take one home (an offer I had to deny logistically, but appreciated nevertheless). We were given sugar cane, big hugs, home cooked meals, cute handwritten notes from kids, and coconuts freshly cut off the palm tree. Everyone in the community seemed so excited to have visitors and always wanted to show us around.

Truthfully, when I first arrived I thought I would go crazy with limited wifi and staying within a few mile radius for 2 weeks straight but it ended up being so relaxing and rewarding and the time just flew by. Making friends, exploring the wilderness around us, playing pool, riding horses, and building the filters took up our days and by the time night came I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. I’ve attached photos of some favorite memories, from the beautiful view we saw while going up a mountain at 6am to milk cows, to the earrings and note a group of little girls that I spent a lot of time with gave me. Now all four of us are back in college, spending the majority of our time studying, and I think about our amazing experience living in rural Dominican Republic every day.

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