Kelsey's Story

Meet Kelsey Green

Year: Junior
Majors: Marketing & Interactive Media Studies
Minor: Management & Leadership
School: Miami University

"Cling to what is good." —Romans 12:9

This January, I had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic for a two-week study abroad service learning trip.  I quite honestly had no idea what I was in for and wasn't prepared for the way the experience would affect me to such great lengths.  But, I couldn't be more thankful that I was able to see their world for two weeks and to do it with such an inspiring team of students.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on my experiences while there.  I kept questioning how these kids could have such big smiles and give the biggest hugs when they had next to nothing.  To me, having "nothing" meant not having a lot of food, no bed to sleep in, no clean water, no extra pair of shoes... In reality though, these kids have so much more than I could have ever imagined.  They have the love of their classmates, their dedicated teachers, the volunteers at their schools, and the teams that come down often to give their time.  On top of all those people who are a part of their daily lives at school, they are exposed to the love that God can provide for them, even in the times that are their toughest.

One of the kids who always smiled extra big when he saw me was a boy we will call "Daniel," a second grader at ANIJA school in Jarabacoa.  What amazed me was how close I felt to him even with the language barrier.  Spanish came back to me throughout the trip, but in very small doses.  I was concerned that it would create a wall between me and the kids.  However, I was greeted with Daniel's hug and then an extended hand to come to the playground with him, an immediate radiation of joy each morning.  The simple gesture of opening my eyes to his world and trusting me was one I was able to reflect on and work to bring into my own life.  So often, trust is something that I feel takes time to earn, but with these kids it is instant and with such loving intentions.

The lessons I learned while working with JOY in the DR came solely through my experiences on my trip.  Without the chance to meet the kids and work at the schools, I wouldn't truly understand the joy they have and the love they give!

For more stories like Kelsey’s, follow us on social media @spreadJOYnow

Want to #spreadjoynow in a different country? On your campus? Contact us!