The past few days have been very emotional in many different ways. Since this was our last week of work and our last official week of the ELAP program, it has been full of sadness and goodbyes, but also excitement for what awaits us when we get home.
I have been sick this week, so I unfortunately missed a couple of my last work days. Thankfully, however, I was well enough to go in on Thursday for our final day at the community center. They threw us a going-away party with music, dancing, cards, and touching speeches by the children. By the time the laughter and dancing portion of the day had come to a close and only the goodbyes remained, I got that sinking feeling in my stomach that comes with all goodbyes that might be the last ones. Of course, there is a possibility that I will come back to Santo Domingo someday, but the chances of seeing every child again are probably slim. My hardest goodbye was with one 9-year-old boy who lit up my life every day at the community center. He is one of the most ornery children I've ever met, but he is also one of the most loving. He is tiny and extremely fast, so whenever he's doing something wrong, the teachers just pick him up and move him (but only if they can catch him first!). He has quite the personality and keeps life interesting, and you can tell that everyone loves him to death. One of my favorite memories with this particular child was this past Monday when we were painting and my hands were covered in a million different colors. I saw him looking at my hands, but then he just walked away, and I really didn't think anything of it. The next thing you know, he came out of the bathroom with a water bottle and a bucket and told me to give him my hands. He poured the water over them and scrubbed all of the paint off for me...I was speechless. Watching him leave the community center for the last time on Thursday broke my heart because of how sad he looked. He gave us all about 15 hugs before he finally left, but he never said a word. As much as I loved every child, he was really something special, and I will miss him more than I want to think about.
On a happier note, this afternoon, my mom arrives from Columbus and my aunt and uncle are coming in from France tomorrow! We will spend the next week traveling around the country, so these are my last couple of days in the capital. I am planning to show them where I worked (including the ridiculously long commute!) and everything else that has been important to me here. I can't believe that I only have 9 more days. The time has flown, but I do think I'll be ready to head home soon :)