Time Capsule Letter
We can’t believe it has already been so long since our trip to the Dominican Republic ended! We can still taste the fresh pineapple and watermelon prepared for us each morning, and the delicious typical Dominican dishes that we shared each evening (“Gracias Doña Marie, Carmen y Beva!”)
It feels like it was yesterday that we were running on the beach, celebrating our leaders of the day, and painting and building items for the school in las Canas. You’re probably back at your own school now (or starting college!) but we wanted you to know that we are still thinking of you and reflecting on the impact we made this summer together.
You all worked extremely hard at the service site, so much energy and commitment! Those gorgeous murals, the carefully made community garden, the brand new stove, benches and recycling station- we achieved a lot! Your dedication did make an impact. You brought with you a curiosity, courage and a desire to learn that made the whole experience so enriching for us all.
We are still so grateful for the many questions you asked, your enthusiasm and care at the service site and the bravery you displayed in stepping outside of your comfort zone and embracing Dominican life. We experienced Dominican culture in a variety of ways, from hiking up the local community of Brisón to getting to know Johnny and his bees at Cano Dulce!
We also got to sample city life in Santo Domingo, Santiago and Puerto Plata, where we learned more about the complex and important history of the Dominican Republic, from pre- colonial times until today. Going to the border market at Dajabón and visiting the Batey reminded us of the inequalities that pervade our world today and we heard first hand from Walner and Junior about Haitain experiences in the DR. We also shared so much laughter and joy, from white water rafting at Jarabacoa, to snorkeling in Sosua- it was a blast!
Our evenings were spent on a variety of lectures and mentor groups, discussing issues from poverty and borders to sustainability and mental health. We reflecting on our findings and you rose to the challenge with an immense maturity. Your passion and desire to see a better world, coupled with your immense respect for the community in which we were living made this group extra unique. It left us all a bit more hopeful for the future and gave us the confidence to work towards building a sustainable world. We hope you never stop debating, questioning and learning in this way!
Whether it was playing games with the local children at the school, picking up litter, cuddling Ernie or doing shout outs to your fellow BSW, there was always a reason to smile. we are so grateful for all that we shared with you- the 2019 GLA BSW GROUP (so many acronyms)! We became such a close knit group and these bonds have not faded! On our final evening together, you each shared how much you learned and your personal discoveries. We were delighted to hear these important realisations and goals for the future.
Remember our group’s OMG- One Meaningful Goal? Ours became Four Meaningful Goals as there were so many good ones:
Live more sustainably, with an awareness of our impact
Be more open minded and less judgemental
Find out where things come from and have an understanding of history
Use our devices less and be more present in the moment
Thank you all for helping to make this such an enjoyable, worthwhile and important trip for us all. We miss you!!
10 special moments from our trip:
Our nights away (in Santo Domingo, the oldest colonial city, and Jarabacoa in that breathtaking eco lodge)!
Celebrating Nick and Mallory’s birthdays (more cake anyone!?)
A magical afternoon playing at Jarabacoa Waterfall. We each enjoyed swimming, splashing, climbing on rocks and relaxing in this beautiful paradise.
Playing Marco Polo in the sea and the pool
A fascinating Q&A with Doña Maxima at the top of the Brisón hike, followed by some Bachata dancing!
Learning from local community entrepreneur, Johnny with his bees
Accomplishing all of our projects (and even doing a few more) at Las Canas school
The spectacular boat ride and swim at the peaceful La Boca lagoon by the ocean (mud mask time!)
Sampling delicious chocolate at Chojoba, the women’s led cooperative chocolate factory
Your final capstone projects where you wowed the panel with your powerful presentations on US immigration, the Syrian Refugee Crisis, Police Brutality, Sweatshops, Pacfic Island Trash and Human Trafficking.
And so much more… We hope that the memories we shared have stayed with you and continued to influence you in positive ways!
Maria, Kath, Joselin, Cody & Alejandro
Monday July 8, 2019
Students have landed safely and are enjoying their free time at the lodge after orientation seminar.
Awesome energy and friendships from everyone so far!. .. Excited to learn about the 7 Elements of Human Security, have lots of fun and create meaningful connections with the community. The start of our amazing 21 day program is now.
-Joselin Hernández – GLA Program Staff
Tuesday July 9, 2019
Today was our first day of service. We learned how we should work with the community and their needs. We are giving back to them in a sustainable way that will help them for years to come. The walk to the service site was eye opening, seeing the dogs, chickens and cows. We loved saying hello to all the friendly, open minded locals. We each learned something new whether it was at our service site building a garden, painting, and making a stove, or speaking in our mentor groups. An overall goal for us is to not only experience what we do here and be the change but to take those mindsets back home.
Yazi and Kaylie
Wednesday July 10, 2019
At the site the students worked both excitedly and tirelessly with not only excitement, but also an unwavering sense of joy. So far the students have worked together with locals to strengthen the columns of the eating area, to paint with the intention of sparking enthusiasm, and to create a garden from which the youth of the Dominican Republic can obtain several delicious, healthy meals. After a long day of service some of the students decided to kick back, relax, and play a game with one of their mentors.
Thursday July 11, 2019
Today was the last of 3 consecutive service days. Many people from each team had become committed to the projects they chose to take on while an equal amount chose to mix it up and try out other activities. There were students who spent the last two days mixing concrete and try their hand at new things: we did the painting.
The gardeners worked hard, laying cinder blocks and mixing concrete using their one small break to pick up trash around the work sight. The builders continued their great work on the eco stove and nearly completed a new table for the children to eat lunch at.
The painters began to color their extremely detailed and well thought out world map mural with the help of some of the members of the other groups and a few of the local children. In addition, they worked on beautifying a mural done by the previous group, making the colors more vibrant and adding colorful details.
The GLA students were visited by many of the local children and battled language barriers while attempting to communicate. They learned to ask for help in the form of a fellow student when they needed something translated. It is safe to say that many of the students went back to home base with some new friends.
The day ended well with delicious Dominican dessert Habichuelas con dulce prepared for us by our fabulous chefs: Donya Mari, Tuta, and Beba. The students are extremely excited about there first excursion tomorrow to La Boca River where we will be taking a boat ride and swimming at the beach.
-by Zach and Mallory
Friday July 12, 2019
Today, the Building a Sustainable World program took a break from service and rode down the La Boca river to the beach. After 3 days of service, today was used for a break, just as necessary as hard work. We left our home base at 9:30am and started down the river at about 10:00am in two boats.
We rode through the mangroves surrounding La Boca, seeing lots of interesting wildlife, like needlefish, as well as many mangrove trees. After arriving at the beach, we swam in the warm waters of the estuary between La Boca and the ocean for long hours, despite some of the sunburns we got. After that, we ate at a seaside restaurant and drank (virgin) piña coladas from fresh pineapples.
Today was refreshing and a good break from the turbulent yet meaningful service. Students are excited to return to each of their projects in Escuela Las Canas and are properly recharged with a day of fun. I can confidently say that today we truly lived our best day.
-James and Sam
Quote of the day and photos from Friday:
Saturday July 13, 2019
Day 6 by Gabby and Talia. Today the group had a beautiful breakfast of fruit and native food, with the treat of coco puffs for those missing home. The group loaded up on a bus and went to a small community called Cãno Dulce. There the students met with a local bee farmer named Johnny. Johnny showed the group around his bee farm and answered questions about the community, his business, and the local fruit trees. The group got to see first hand what it takes to care for thousands of bees, as well as taste the delicious honey!
We also learned about the significant impact that Johnny’s company has on the overall community as well as how important bees are to the environment. After that, the students walked through Cãno Dulce for a short trip to see the community and all that it offers. We observed the bottle building that one of the other GLA groups are building, much like the one we are going to create in the school! Additionally, we got to see what used to be the largest bottle building project ever, created by 7 elements.
Once back to the service site of the school, the group talked about how the 7 elements of human security is incorporated into Cãno Dulce and Johnny Bee and ate lunch. The students got right to work after lunch to continue working on various projects such as the World Map mural, the community garden in which the students will be able to help grow the food that they will then eat, the sustainable stove, and they finished a brand new set of a table and benches! Then they were able to come back to the lodge for a relaxing swim in the pool.
Following dinner, the group received a presentation from a few of the local GLA directors all about the relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and their experiences. We learned about the upsetting cultural divide that stems from the history of segregation on the island, and the discrimination that people face based on the color of their skin and their country of birth. To end off the night, the students had an hour of free time in which many played cards, learned line dances to country music or went for a night walk on the beach.
Sunday July 14, 2019
Today the students had only a half day of service at las Canas school and then bussed to plalla beach and spent the rest of the day swimming in the ocean.
They then bussed back to home base for dinner and a lector from a mentor Maria. On ethical dilemmas and learned more about the economy not only in the Dominican but more globally.
-by Ryan & Aidan
Tuesday July 16, 2019
Today Conor and I were leader of the day. It wasn’t the best day to be the leaders of the day because we were in buses for the majority of the day. At breakfast we announced the agenda for the day and we woke other cabins up for breakfast. Before we boarded the buses we did a headcount. While we were on the bus for 5 hours we conversed with other kids and made new friends. When we got to Dajabon we ate at a local restaurant and prepared for a intense walk in the border market between the D.R and Haiti.
While we walked around we learnt about the border river and the way of life for many Haitians. Many Haitians rely on the market for their main source of income, and use the money they make from selling their goods to support their families. As we walked through the market we had to stay in groups because there were many people in the market and we needed to make sure no one got lost. The market was extremely busy and it was interesting to see a market that was that full of people.
On the ride back everyone was tired from the long day and towards the end of the trip we played music in the bus to entertain them for the remaining two hours we had left in the bus. When we got back it was around 7:30 and we had dinner and announced mentor groups. During the mentor groups we discussed about what we had seen at the market, we also discussed our lows and highs of the days. After that everyone was tired and went to sleep.
-by Alex and Conor
Wednesday July 17, 2019
Today the GLA students hiked Mt. Brison, a long, steep, rocky road that students in the community take daily to get to and from school. We visited a K-4 elementary school that only had two separate rooms for all of the students to learn in.
After learning about the school, we hiked up to the house of a woman in the community named Juanita. Here, students had the opportunity to purchase handcrafted goods like bracelets and rugs, as well as homemade coconut cake.
Afterwards we got to see Juanita’s garden where she grows all sorts of tropical and unique fruits and vegetables; she also has a pigpen and a chicken coop. We then got back on our way up the mountain, and after several water breaks and lots of perseverance, the group finally made it to our destination—the house of another woman in the community named Doña Maxima.
Here we had a delicious lunch waiting for us and we got the opportunity to ask Doña Maxima about her lifestyle along with questions related to the other members of the community. It was really interesting to learn about her life up on the mountain, and we also enjoyed listening to music and learning a dance that her daughter taught us.
Once we made our way back to the bottom of the mountain, students relaxed with some cold drinks like Cola Real and Gatorade before hopping back on the buses to head home. Overall, getting to see the community on and around Mt. Brison and spending a day in the students of the community’s shoes was an informative and eye-opening experience.
Thursday July 18, 2019
Hi GLA families! Hope you are doing well and are enjoying these great blog posts! Today was day 11 and with that came a great excursion out to the city of Santiago. It is about 1.5 hrs from the lodge and is the second biggest city in the Dominican Republic!
After arriving around 10:30am to the city we got a terrific tour of the Centro Leon museum that educated us on the history of the DR. We were able to see local art from the country as well as artifacts from civilizations that were around in the DR before colonization in 1400-1500s.
We learned so much and are able to learn a little more into the rich culture and history of the country.
After our tour we had lunch at a Dominican fast food restaurant that is similar to a KFC in the US. It was super fun and everyone had a great morning! After lunch we went to the monument Santiago de Los Caballeros, learned all about the history of the city and finished our time eating frozen yogurt from Sweet Frog. Overall it was a super interesting day where we were able to learn and understand more of the history of the Dominican Republic, but tomorrow it is back to service to continue our awesome projects!
by leader of the day: Katie Craig
Tuesday July 23, 2019
Today was another great day of service! Everybody worked very hard today to finish building the recycling shed and the sustainable stove, as well as painting many beautiful and educational murals, and refreshing the school building with a fresh coat of paint. Language barriers were broken as local children were befriended through a game of basketball and Cops and Robbers (with an exciting addition of “dodge the paint can”).
After this very productive day some of us enjoyed a splash in the pool while others took the opportunity to chat or read in the sunny weather. A small expedition was also led a couple minutes down the road to the beautiful beach lined with palm trees. This evening, after dinner, we listened to an interesting lecture on mental health both at home and abroad before heading back to our cabins to pack for our exciting trip tomorrow to Santo Domingo tomorrow!
We started the morning with a nice breakfast and headed on our walk to our service site. Today was are last full day of service. Today the main goals at service were finishing the stove and painting. We also had a lecture about the projects we were Finishing. After service we cleaned trash off the side of the road for a small project. Even got a few cold sodas at the local store.
During free time we used the pool and took a walk at the beach. For dinner we had some great fish. Then we began our presentation of our capstone projects. We even had some special guests join us to judge our presentation. The group that talked about police brutality won. Congrats they get to eat first all day tomorrow. Overall it was a great day of work and fun.
-Ryan and Sheehan