Rizzel Cornachio is a first-time Bridges volunteer who traveled to the Dominican Republic with her two daughters, Alexis and Camille, in April 2019. Alexis traveled to the DR with Bridges in 2016; she wanted to go again and Rizzel decided to go with her this time. Rizzel says, “Alexis was so affected by the experience in a positive way. It had such an impact on her. Now that Camille is at the age where she could go [on the trip], I thought it was the perfect opportunity for all three of us to go…and it was a wonderful shared experience that we have now.”
Rizzel is originally from Latin America and has experienced poverty in a similar context before. However, she says, “It was my first time visiting the Dominican Republic, and I was still struck by how pervasive poverty was, but I loved the people. Everyone was very warm and very open…it was such a positive experience.
The number one thing for me was camaraderie: There was this [rapport] between the volunteers and the BTC staff and also between us volunteers and the local people who worked alongside us at the construction site, who lead the project, even the cooks who prepared the food. Everyone involved in the project is fantastic, and there was just this feeling that we were all doing something good together.”
Rizzel has seen the impact that the Bridges trip has, not only on community members but on the volunteers. She says, “I think the trip makes people more aware of and serving of others. When my daughter Alexis first went [on the Bridges trip several years ago], she had had surgery and was going through some difficulties. [The trip] took her outside of her world and what was going on with her. It put things into perspective for her as far as life, …and the experience continues to affect her. She is thinking about what career path she will take and says she would like to do international service. That’s how much the Bridges experience has impacted her; it is evident even in what she thinks she wants to pursue.
My other daughter Camille has also been tremendously impacted by the trip…As an adolescent, your world can be narrowly focused, and this trip blows up that narrow focus. This trip was very eye-opening for her. It gave her perspective that her personal experience is just one of the ways people experience this world.”