A team of four Dominican College students and two administrators traveled to El Salvador in January to work for a week at a summer camp for children in a rural village.
The summer camp in Sol Naciente was founded by a Dominican Sister, Sr. Flor Buruca, O.P. of Amityville, NY, a native of El Salvador. With the help of others, Sr. Flor has also built a chapel in Sol Naciente, established an after-school program, and provided care packages for those in need. The mission of the Dominican College team was to assist Sr. Flor in relieving poverty and promoting education in Sol Naciente.
Massiel Estevez, a 2015 graduate, said the trip was important because Dominican College emphasizes the importance of community, service and spirituality. “Experiencing El Salvador gave us the opportunity to learn more about the culture and the people of El Salvador – people who at the end of the day are just like you and me,“ she said.
Estevez said the Dominican College students sent the message, “We are here because we care.” She added that the students fell in love with the children at the camp. ”Spending a week working with some of the greatest children and young adults on the entire planet was amazing and life-changing,” she said.
Ashley Beard was another 2015 graduate who traveled to El Salvador to work at the camp. She described the entire experience as unforgettable, but particularly remembers one poignant moment on the last day of camp when the children surprised the college students with a song. “I began to cry because it was such a beautiful song and I was going to miss them all so much,” she said. “The one girl in the camp that I had been with a lot throughout the week, came over to me and started to wipe the tears from my face and kissed me. She then pointed to her smile signaling me to smile and not be sad.”
The other Dominican College students who worked at the camp in El Salvador were Shamel Medrano, Class of 2015, and Kayla Lyder, Class of 2016. They were accompanied by Ryan O’Gorman, Director of Residence Life and Christine Dilts, who was Director of Community Engagement and Leadership Development at the time. She has since been promoted to Assistant Dean for Student Development.
This is the second year that Dominican College has sent a team to Sol Naciente. Plans are already underway for the January 2016 mission.