I Traveled Abroad, and It Changed My Life


Kelsie Hildebrand, General Reporter

I just returned from vacation to the Dominican Republic with my boyfriend and his family where we stayed at an all-inclusive resort for four days and an apartment downtown Boca Chica for the last three days. Although this was not my first time traveling out of the country, I felt different this time.

I first traveled abroad to Guatemala with my church for a mission trip during the summer of 2019, which would make me 16 at the time. We worked with children in need at orphanages and donation centers and built 5 houses for 5 families living in poverty. The experience was enlightening, but I still had much to learn about life and growing up.

Being 19 years old, I am a little older and a little wiser than before, so my experience was much different.

While staying at the resort, we were sheltered from the world outside. Although unlimited food and drinks are nice, we did not experience the life and culture there. When we were staying in the apartment, we were able to submerge ourselves into the community of Boca Chica.

Outside the resort, it was hard for us to communicate with the people in Boca Chica because none of us spoke much Spanish. This has given me the incentive to learn and pursue the language. One of my biggest passions in life is to travel the world as a journalist, and for me to be successful in doing so, I am going to need to know another language or two.

The Dominican Republic, being a third-world country, is much different than the United States. The streets and ditches along the interstate were filled with garbage, and the heat makes the stench almost unbearable. Vendors walk the beaches where people are sitting down for a bite to eat trying to sell handmade jewelry, blankets, et cetera to make an extra buck. It is sad to see these people in the community living in poverty with nothing you can do to help.

One thing that stood out to me the most was a man that my boyfriend’s mom pointed out. He was crazed, babbling, and wearing a cast on his leg, which was brown and deteriorating. She said, “I wonder how long he has had that on for,” and it got me to thinking. He does not have health care and insurance like we do.

I live my life every day as if every little inconvenience to me is the end of the world, but I forget how big the world is. With 7.753 billion people in the world and growing, one little inconvenience of mine does not compare to what some people are facing in other countries.

Kelsie Hildebrand is a Dakota Student General Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected].