My flight was delayed coming in to the Dominican Republic, so it made it extra special when I got in. The DR is exactly like I expected it to be, and also nothing like I expected. It’s colorful, friendly, and hot. I tried to take in everything as I was on the bus to Home Base, but it was hard. There’s so much life. When we finally got to Home Base, it was perfect. I picked my room, set up, and ate a delicious dinner of rice, beans, and fruit. Then we had orientation where we went over rules and the itinerary. We learned which villages we’d be volunteering in, building schools and houses. We also learned which days we’d be adventuring. All in all, it was a pretty great day.
– Lily Steiger
Today started off at with a pillow shoved over my face at 2:30 am and a lot of groaning. All flights from my area were more than my minimum wage job & my 18th birthday money could afford. Because of that, I had to take the 6 hour road trip from Dayton Ohio, my home town, to Chicago, the day before. It was a fun trip, my mom and I haven’t been on a road trip in forever. We spent the night at a nice hotel, with pretty good coffee, which I desperately needed. At 3 am, I kissed my mother goodbye and took a shuttle to the airport. I ended up being the only one from GLA to arrive via New Jersey, my layover, and ended up being the first to arrive. This wasn’t a problem though. I went on the 10 day trip last year and during my senior year; I decided to return for the last time. The drive back was around two hours, which I got to spend hanging out with Freddy, the driver, and Katie, one of my mentors. It was pretty surreal being back. I forgot how much I missed the colorfully houses, the constant palm trees, the view of the rainforest. The ever present heat feels like a blanket, smothering at times, comforting at others. I’m sorry, I know this probably sounds overly flowery, but I’m feeling pretty nostalgic. In a few months I’ll be in college and unable to return to GLA. It was great to see the lodge, and I even ended up in my old bunk. I’m excited for the trips we will be taking and the group, 44-all girls, some have yet to arrive- seem great. I’m ready to try and give this trip my all and push myself-physically and also emotionally.
– Chloé Massie-Costales
Today, after awaking bright and early to the sound of a rooster crowing at 6 am, our GLA group ate a delicious breakfast of eggs, toast, fresh fruit and ham & cheese and loaded the bus for the community of Joba Arribe. We broke up into small groups and all tackled various projects. One group worked on shoveling sand and rocks by a river to use for cement production, another group removed debris from a destroyed water tank with an eventual goal to restore it for the citizens in the valley below it, and the last group mixed cement by hand and helped locals to lay flooring that will benefit their health. The three groups then rejoined for lunch on site to eat delicious local food and bond with each other.
After lunch, we split into groups again; two groups dug holes for septum tanks, and the other group dug a trench for a bridge. After all the heavy lifting, everyone enjoyed the beautiful nearby beach where we swam, took pictures, found sand dollars, and got some sun. The beach was incredible and helped us to recognize the beauty in the simplicity of the island. We later came back to home base to further bond and swim in our on-site pool. Extremely hungry after a long day, we very much enjoyed the amazing dinner that had been prepared for us. After leadership activities with our mentor Sarah, we returned to our rooms to play card games and chill out (except not really due to the insanely high temperatures here). All jokes aside, overall it has been an amazing and unforgettable day!
– Claire Foley and Gracie Blue
Day 3 started off with the cacophonous cucaw of a rooster which woke our entire room up. After we got dressed, we headed down to the pavilion for scrumptious breakfast of mashed potatoes, eggs, fruit, etc. At 8, we left for the job site, Caraballo, with our daring bus driver “Ruthless Rafael”. Two hours later, we finally arrived at the job site. We split into two groups: the painters (who were instructed to paint the inside and outside of the schoolhouse) and the cement mixers. Throughout the day, the local children would come and help us do our jobs, and we would help them learn a little bit of English, as well as teaching them American dances (like the “whip”) and hand games (like “Miss Mary Mack”). It was so much fun teaching them a little of our culture and getting mini Spanish lessons in return. We were super impressed with the amount of languages that they all knew and how good their English was! We also went on tours around the local villages with a mentor. As we were walking through the communities, local children came up to us in large groups, asking to hold our hands and ride on our backs. I, Rebecca, held one little boy named Louis. He was the sweetest little boy ever and was so affectionate. Overall, this day was very eye-opening and rewarding because the stuff that we were working on, the panting and cementing of the schoolhouse, was having a direct and impactful effect on the people that we had spent the day with.
– Rebecca Jacobi & Rachel Shaw
This morning we woke up to a yummy, homemade breakfast including French toast, eggs, fruit, and protein. Then we made our way to La Grua to work on one of GLA’s bottle schools. On the lengthy, but enjoyable bus ride, we drove through many different cities and villages. When we arrived at La Grua, we broke into groups and started our projects. We did many different jobs. We put bottle into the frames for the wall, mixed cement, worked on leveling the floors, and dug a hole that will be used for the septic tank. We worked really hard for a few hours and then it was time for lunch. For lunch we enjoyed chicken, potatoes, salad, and fruit. After, some of us got back to work and the others started on a tour of La Grua. They saw a lot of different animals including dogs, cats, cows, and horses. They also met some of the people that live there. On their way back, they brought along some of the children and they came to work with us. The second group went on the tour and brought back even more hard workers that they met along the way. After a few more hours of hard work and lots of progress, we decided to take a break and have a little fun. We turned up the music and danced the meringue with some of the locals. After lots of dancing, we headed back to home base. We had about 2 hours of free time where some people went to the beach, relaxed, swam in the pool, or socialized. After free time, we had a delicious dinner including chicken, fried eggplant, seasoned potatoes, and fruit. Following was a leadership workshop where we discussed and discovered our core values. Then we had an educational lecture on Environmental Security. Then it was time for bed.
– Kaeli Coppa and Alanna Hurd
Today we had beach time at Cabarete. W e used our great bargaining skills and bought amazing souvenirs for our lovely parents and friends, but you will not find out until we get home. We tried Dominican pizza for the first time and had awesome daiquiris, virgin of course. After that we headed over to a different beach called, Sosua. It had clear water and soft white sand. We took and small boat to a larger boat to travel to a beautiful coral reef. We jumped off the side of the boat and some people even got to steer the boat. Later, we shopped in the local stores for more trinkets and such and had a peaceful afternoon. Also, dinner was amazing because we had tacos and tortillas and it was iconic.
– Chigo Chukwu (California) & Mallory Gault (California)
Today, we went back to La Grua, a Dominican and Haitian village located two hours away from our base camp. We continued to fill the walls with recycled bottles found in and around the local village. We take for granted everyday our ability to throw away our waste, but to the impoverished Dominican and Haitian people, they do not have this luxury. They have to prioritize feeding their families over paying for the disposal of their waste. Because of the buildup of garbage, this poses a threat to the health security of the local people. On our tour through the community, we witnessed the locals swimming and playing in the polluted river, which is their only source of water. They played Dominican music and taught us all how to dance and have fun the Dominican way. After saying our final goodbyes, we hopped on the bus and drove back to base camp. Sarah, our leadership mentor, led us through a team building activity of low ropes. We learned about the different styles and importance of leadership. We went through a serious of ropes and mazes to complete as a team. Then we had a delicious beef stew for dinner and listened to George give another Human Security lecture about health security. It made us think about how fortunate we are to live in America. We are privileged with specifically the availability of medicine and doctors. We were informed that 40% of the 56 million deaths a year are avoidable. These threats are not going away and our society continues to waste time and resources. Although many see our generation as the future, we are the now and we have the responsibility to be the change.
–Gabrielle Alias and Natalie Greco
This morning started off with some girls running and others doing yoga on the beach. After enjoying a tasty Dominican breakfast, we all set off for Cano Dulce to start our service for the day. Our group was separated into three in order to complete different tasks in this Dominican community. The first group was in charge of mixing cement to provide concrete flooring for three different houses. Although this task was physically exhausting, all girls felt accomplished when we set a new record of mixing thirty-five bags of cement. GIRL POWER! The second group was in charge of building bee boxes in order to support Jonny the bee man’s bee farm. In addition to sawing wood for future bee boxes, girls had the opportunity to taste fresh honeycomb. The third group hoed the land to prepare the ground for a tree nursery. After eating our lunch with some locals, James took us on a tour around the village. It is a rewarding and humbling experience to witness how our actions are positively influencing this community. After arriving back at the home base, we went to the beach to relax and soak up the sun.
Following dinner, we listened to the importance of economic security and its impact globally. It provided us all with a new perspective on the economic imbalance throughout the world. Also, we watched a video teaching us the importance of seizing educational opportunities. Our eyes were opened as we realized how many privileges we are given each day of our lives. We are looking forward to our hike to Brison tomorrow and know it will be a great day!
– Grace Resnik and Claire Sheller, California