That work ushered a cyclone of activity when the court opened. Pickup basketball games buzzed around both hoops. Near midcourt, volunteers and local children knocked a volleyball to each other.
Those games had been a long time coming. Courts for Kids had planned to build a court in El Rodeo in 2020 but put the trip on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This project and a simultaneous trip to Panama were Courts for Kids’ first excursions back into the field since the pandemic began.
In El Rodeo, volunteers connected with local teens through pickup baseball games, dance parties in the street and a genuine curiosity to learn about each other’s daily lives. Greetings of “hola” and “buen dia” were the soundtrack to any walk down the rural town’s streets.
Theresa, the resident most responsible for connecting El Rodeo and Courts for Kids, cooked buffets for us. Our three daily meals included various combinations of plantains, chicken, pork, rice, eggs and fresh local fruits.
The trip wasn’t all about work. Courts for Kids gave each of us a daily task to boost our knowledge of the country’s customs or encourage interaction with locals. This could mean asking about, for example, the role of women in Dominican society. It could also be a lighter assignment, like trying at least one new food or working with a Dominican teen to create a secret handshake.