This memoir pertains to my teaching internship in the Dominican Republic (July 2021).
Even the loud chirping of the weaver birds, which usually filled the girl’s dorm, was drowned out by the musical singalong. Now don’t get me wrong; I love musicals, but this one seemed questionable under the circumstances. I winced as yet another explicate blared from the little speaker, praying that the sound wouldn’t reach the apartments of the various missionaries who lived above us.
I made my escape down the hallway, hoping to find peace and quiet in my bedroom. But I soon encountered Anna heading in the opposite direction. She shook her head as if to say, “No such luck.”
Thankfully, Anna had another solution. “Want to go for a walk?” she mouthed.
Outside the apartments, we began following the border of the school campus. A path consisting of two narrow dirt tracks ran between the jungle and a grassy soccer field.
I had chatted with Anna once before about musical scales when she had shown me the keyboard stored in a spare room. In fact, we had talked so long that I was late to orientation! Now, I was excited to see what other interests we shared in common.
“So, I know you like music,” I began, “But what about books?”
Before I knew it, we were deep into the details of our reading and writing lives. I learned that Anna’s grandmother had passed on a love for British mysteries to her grandchildren. I shared my obsession with Dickens novels. We made lap after lap around the campus, laughing and shaking our fists angrily upon remembering “that horrible book!” A browsing bull merely gave us a glance as we passed for the sixth time. The stray dogs, which swarmed the area like pesky mosquitoes, wandered away. Then it began to rain. But I didn’t notice because Anna was reciting an original poem about the trees of her childhood. I was enthralled. When she had finished, Anna looked up at the cascading drops and began to sing.
I didn’t recognize the melody. “You’ve never heard “Singing in the Rain?” she asked, disbelieving. “It’s a musical. Speaking of musicals, we should probably head back in.” She blushed as she looked down at my dripping sneakers.
We sloshed back to our dorm. As we entered the communal living room, we were happy to find it much quieter than when we left. The other girls were resting on the couches and the weaver birds were too wet to sing. I tiptoed to my bedroom to change.
Fast forward to that week’s Friday night debrief. As was customary, we each shared our highlights and lowlights of the week. When my turn arrived, I admitted sheepishly, “My highlight was walking in the rain with Anna the other day.”
“I’m so sorry, Avery!” Anna blurted in apology. “Wait a minute,” she smiled, “That was your highlight, too?”
The other interns looked at us as if we were crazy.
That was the beginning of a brief, yet beautiful friendship. Though I have not seen Anna since the conclusion of my internship, her impact on my life continues to this day.
Here’s to unexpected encounters with kindred spirits. Please comment below and share your story.