Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
The GLA staff and the team at 7 Elements are all so incredibly proud of the community-led projects you brought to fruition this past summer in the Dominican Republic. Your three weeks of hard work, willingness to explore new places and new cultures, and your energy made this summer one to remember.
To celebrate your accomplishments, let’s look back at some of the highlights from your summer:
- The cable car ride to the top of the mountain
- Our night in Santo Domingo and tour of the city
- The visit to Jarabacoa, where we came across a gorgeous waterfall and had a BBQ
- When we raised the floors at the Islabon school so that children can attend even when there’s flooding
- Giorgio’s talks!
- Our excursion to Dajabon on the Haitian border
- As Tommy wrote: As we said the whole trip, “The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days.”
We hope you all are having a great start to the school year, and that you take a little bit of this life-changing experience in the Dominican Republic wherever you go.
The GLA & 7E Team
Summer Blog Posts
July 6, 2016
All students have arrived from Puerto Plata airport. We are still waiting for Bridget and May’s arrival from Santiago Airport. We will provide a more in-depth look into the start of the program tomorrow. We’re so excited to get our hands mixing cement!!
Max Smith, Group Mentor
July 7, 2016
After breakfast, we took the bus to Isla Bon. We worked on building a house and we also helped elevate a school ground and roof. We built the house for a local family using plastic bottles, wire, and cement. The school has to be elevated because after heavy rainfall, it floods and consequently students can’t go to school. We had lunch in Isla Bon. We brought the food over, and some local people cooked it for us. We also played baseball with some kids and adults in the community and went to the beach. After dinner, we had a lesson on the 7 elements and met in our mentor groups.
July 10, 2016
Hello Parents, this is Christina writing about what we did today in the Dominican. Today was one of our adventure days, so we spent the day in the city of Puerto Plata visiting some popular attractions. First we went to a museum and learned about two common stones found here, amber and larimar. After learning about where and how these stones are made, we were able to go to a gift shop and buy jewelry made of the beautiful blue and brown stones. We then went to ride cable cars to the top of a local mountain. From the cable cars we were able to see the whole city of Puerto Plata and the surrounding countryside. Once we were at the top we walked around and saw incredible views and exotic plants found in the Dominican. After a long day in the city we went back to our base for a home cooked meal and some free time to get to know and have fun with the other students here. Our adventure day gave us a break from all our hard work and a chance to explore the city.
July 19, 2016
We’ve just concluded our 3-day excursion to Santo Domingo, the Capitol of the DR. It was pleasant to see the city since it displayed another side of the island to us. However, I personally prefer the simplicity and serenity of the natural areas and small towns that we’ve been working in. I did find the city’s rich colonial history to be quite intriguing, though. After a night in Santo Domingo, we headed to Jarabacoa, where we visited a breathtakingly beautiful waterfall and enjoyed a fun-filled relaxing barbecue. Additionally, the lodge there was very comfortable. Before leaving back to home base, we visited yet another waterfall, swam in some river rapids, and toured a water filtration plant, where we learned how clay water filters are made and what an essential role they play in ensuring the health security of many communities. Now back at our familiar home base and having heard Liv, a college student driven to be a change in the world and a 7 elements volunteer, we’re inspired to work hard again, make a positive difference, and try to live our last remaining week here together to live to the fullest.
July 21, 2016
Yesterday was our last day of service, we finished up our portion of the school. We raised the floors because in the past, the local school in Islabon had flooded so the kids weren’t able to attend. This has been my favorite service project that we have worked on because although it required a lot of hard work, we enabled the local children to receive an education. While this was occurring, another group finished cementing the walls of a house in the community. After service, we went to the pool. Following dinner, there was a leadership activity with our mentor groups. Finally, after an exciting and long day, we went to bed.
July 22, 2016
Today we went to Dajabon which is the Haiti and Dominican Republic border. Apparently, every Monday and Friday, the DR opens the bridge to the DR so that Haitians can come over and sell their donated goods from other nations to Dominicans in need of goods. When we arrived at the market, so many things were going on and it was like an oversized swap meet that was squeezed onto one tiny building. The walkways were only two feet wide and personal space was non existent. On top of that motorcycles and wheel barrows would pass through the crowd and nearly run over everyone. As a whole, the day was a good learning experience as we all learned about the racial tension between the Haitians and the Dominicans and experienced what the Haitians have to go through in order to make a living.
Today we were lucky enough to have visited caberette, a beautiful ecosystem about 15 minutes away from base. The first thing we did, when we got there was worked on a reforestation project, which consisted of planting trees along the main river of the community, once we finished we had sandwiches by the water. Next, we toured around the cave systems and visited a voodoo cave. Finally, we wrapped up the day jumping 3 meters into a lagoon in a cave.
-Kyle and Audrey
July 25, 2016
Today was the last day we will be working in the Dominican Republic. My feelings are mixed. Because on one hand I am relieved to be no longer working with cement. However, I will miss the experience of working with the locals.
Following the work day we met the community leader who told us what it was like to live in the DR.
Then we had our usual beach time which was good as always. We played soccer and swam in the water. We ended our day with projects, which was good because we put in a lot of work.
A Day in the Life of a GLA 21 Day Dominican Republic Traveler
By: Tommy Gergely
I recently returned home from the 21 Day: Building a Sustainable World Dominican Republic GLA trip. Our days were busy and sometimes hectic, but largely followed the same schedule depending on the day. We had two types of days, work days, where we would go out to various communities and work on projects, and excursion days, where we would have a bit of fun while getting to hang out with the friends we met on the trip. I am going to explain in-depth the schedule of a typical work day.
6-7:30 AM: Wake Up- Some kids woke up early and went outside and meditated and stretched, some read a book, some took some early morning refreshing cold showers, and some slept in until two minutes before breakfast time. Everyone had their own routine and was able to relax how they wanted and prepare for the day.
7:30-8 AM: Breakfast- The time of breakfast would vary by day, some days it would be as early as 6:30, other days it was at 8, it really depended on what we were doing and where we were going during the day. Breakfast was generally pretty quiet and relaxed as we were all still sleepy and waking up.
8:30 AM: Leave for work- We would pack the tools, water, and food into the bus and drive to our work site. Some work sites, like La Grua, were far and took an hour and a half to drive to, others were close, like Islabon, and only took fifteen minutes to drive to.
9 AM- 12 PM: Work- The work we did varied by project, we helped build part of a house, school, and water tank and built a whole basketball court and garden. The majority of the jobs required hand-mixing cement which was the most physically demanding work we did. It required teamwork, technique, and knowledge to achieve the perfect mixture of concrete.
12- 1 PM: Lunch- Lunch during work days was cooked by the local community with food GLA provided and was delicious! There was nothing more satisfying than being able to sit down, sip on Coca-Cola you bought at the Colmado, and eat some hot chicken, rice, and beans.
1- 3:30 PM: Back to work/Cleanup- We would finish the projects we started in the morning, but maybe with slightly less enthusiasm because we were all tired. After that we would clean the tools and pack the bus to head back to home base.
3:45- 5/5:30 PM: Free Time/ Beach Time- We got back from our hard day of work and had the option to either go to the beach or hang out at the base. Personally I always went to the beach because I loved getting the dirt off of me in the water and I loved the waves and calmness of the ocean. Sometimes, I even played some beach soccer which could get pretty competitive.
6:00- 7 PM: Dinner- Dinner was prepared by the lovely staff at the Indalo Lodge who made great food. Dinner usually consisted of some variation of chicken, beans, rice with fresh fruit and some other entree for those who vegetarian or vegan.
7- 8 PM: Human Security Talks /Leadership Training /Documentary Watching- During this time we would usually be given a talk on one of the seven elements of Human Security (Food, Personal, Community, Health, Environment, Political, Economic) by Giorgio, our Italian-born, ex-military, surfing, scientist, who was one of the coolest and most thoughtful people I have ever met. The talks were educating and enlightening and allowed the group to look deeper into issues in our world and make connections between seemingly different problems. A couple of nights we received talks about how to be a leader and how to develop a vision by Cameron, these lessons were very practical and could very easily be applied to everyday life. Other nights we watched documentaries about various issues and had in-depth discussions about our opinions on the subject matter.
8- 9 PM: Mentor Groups- The group would split into three smaller subunits and we would meet with our mentors. We would talk about our day, how the trip was going (both good and bad things), and how we were reacting to what was around us. It was a nice time to reflect on our new environment and education.
9:15- 10 PM: In our rooms- We would relax and take showers and unwind from our long day. Some kids would write in their journals, others would take showers, and some would read. Generally a nice relaxing time.
10 PM: LIGHTS OUT!- Time to go to sleep and prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities.
As we said the whole trip, “The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days.”
The finished 12,000 gallon water tank that we helped build for a community called La Grua that was in desperate need of clean water.
A young Dominican girl enjoying the new shade from the roof/shelter we had just built to prevent the plants from receiving direct sunlight and to allow the community to sustain itself.