Story and photo by Chloe Herbert ’20

Senior Sarah Burnett says that they were the best 12 days of her life, the 12 days she spent on Marian’s annual service trip in the Dominican Republic, that is. “[The trip] opened my eyes to the reality of the world and filled a hole that I didn’t know was there inside me,” Burnett said.

Spanish teachers Ms. Caitlin Gaule and Ms. Amy Brabec accompanied 10 Marian students, including Burnett, to the city of Santiago and the Sabana Rey campo.

“Before the trip, I was really nervous. I was scared about speaking in Spanish, being away from my family and separating from the other Marian girls to stay with my host family,” Burnett said.

While in Sabana Rey, Burnett and the nine other girls stayed with families in the community. During their time in the campo, which is a rural village, the group painted the community’s diabetic clinic and played many games of volleyball with the local children every afternoon. Each night they shared meals and reflections together as a group creating memories and inside jokes.

“In the campo one of the guys who helped cook our meals would come up to us at least three times a meal and say ‘¡Hay café!’ (Spanish for ‘There’s coffee!’)” senior Emma McClellan said. The teachers and students alike began to use “¡Hay café!” as the trip’s slogan.

But the shared phrase was only the beginning of the group’s bonding. McClellan had a running list of quotes in the back of her journal that was filled with ridiculous things people said throughout the trip.

Senior Lauren Zadalis made friendship bracelets for everyone, as well as some of the children she met in the campo. The 10 girls quickly grew to support and encourage one another through mosquito bites and dance nights. “Nothing was better than asking another girl to tuck you and your mosquito net in before bed or to rub aloe on your shoulders,” Burnett said.