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:
- Being the first three-week group this summer
- Building the bottle house for the family with three children, that had no roof
- Working hard to raise the floor of the school is Islabon, so they don’t have to close it during heavy flooding
- Singing to Katy Perry and the Beatles at service
- Hiking up Brison!
- The beautiful view after the cable car ride
- That time we were waiting for popsicles and a Dominican woman began blasting Spanish music from her radio, so we had an impromptu dancing lesson (the popsicles did eventually arrive!)
- When we went to the La Union batey and put two brand new cement floors into the houses of two families
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
Hello! I am happy to report that all 31 of our “Building a Sustainable World” students arrived safely in Las Canas, Dominican Republic this afternoon. We went through orientation and provided them with information on the program and the projects we will be working on. They are a very energetic and ambitious group of students and they bring a great energy to the Indalo lodge! We can’t wait to start working with them and please stay tuned for more updates to come!
– Justin Rice
June 13, 2016
Our experience as LOD (Leaders of the Day) has been a good challenge. We have bonded with our peers and many locals. The opportunity to meet people that our less fortunate has been an eye opening experience. So far it has been a good day. The people from the community of Islabon have been really good to us.
– Jeffrey Bateman
– Jevontae Paul
Working on raising the floor in the school of Islabon, building a single family home, and getting a professional hairdo during water break:
June 14, 2016
Today we went to Islabon again to work on the two projects, the family’s house and the school. At the bottle house, we got a lot done in filling the floors with relleno (rocks and dirt as filling) as well as stuffing the chicken-wire walls with bottles. The family we are building this for has three children and no roof to provide for them presently. At the school, we also made huge headway with the relleno. We have been shoveling and moving relleno with wheelbarrows to fill the three rooms of the local school. Our objective is to raise the floor of the school because they close many months of the year due to flooding and we hope to increase hours of education for the locals.
After working hard in the morning and after lunch, we came back to Home Base and had fun at the beach or by the Home Base pool. In the evening we established our “Full Value Contract”- a set of guidelines to ensure comfort, happiness, safety, and common goals. After dinner, Dave talked with us about the Seven Element method we use to look at Human security-individual, political, economic, environmental, food, and health. Every night following we will go in depth into each of these element learn more about security and sustainability.
June 15, 2016
Today was our third and last day in Islabon. We started off with splitting the group in half, with one going to the house and one going to the school. In the morning, the house focused on finishing up the foundation and continuing the bottle wall. We measured and cut chicken wire for the walls, and played with the kids and dogs. We sang songs like the Beatles and Katy Perry to keep our energy up. In the afternoon, we walked in with our speaker blaring music with energy to finish the wall. Half of us worked up doing finishing touches on the foundation, while the other half did the bottle wall and chicken wire. We taught the woman of the house how to build the bottle wall, while jamming out to our favorite tunes. Thirty minutes before lunch, we started on the cement for the bottle wall. The whole group there joined in on getting a cement bath. At the school we started on raising the sidewalks, clearing out a little storage room, and shoveling/wheelbarrowing the relleno (dirt).The heat started to pick up by the time the next group came, but luckily the teachers of the school brought us ice cold juice and bread pudding. In the afternoon, everyone was working on bringing the relleno to the storage room, except two people who played with the local kids to keep them occupied.
We had a hardy lunch with everyone ready to go home, but the team leaders decided to play a joke of working two more hours. Instead we went to the President of the village’s colmado and waited for popsicles. While we waited, a local woman turned up the Spanish radio and taught us how to dance. We danced and sweat for an hour or more with each other and local teenagers. The popsicles finally arrived and we headed out. We got back to the base and immediately dashed to our rooms to change for the beach. After free time, we had a Spanish lesson taught by our very own mentor of basic knowledge. We then had dinner and a leadership activity where we were given challenging real life scenarios to solve. After we got into our mentor groups to discuss human security in the community and our group dynamic. We broke into our separate rooms to discuss further and head to bed, looking forward to the sleep-in. Overall, we met our goals at the school and house, and bonded more as a group.
– Chloe and Isabel
June 16, 2016
Today we started off by eating a balanced breakfast amongst our peers which helped us prepare for our adventurous day in Puerto Plata. After breakfast, we got with our buddies and boarded the bus. The bus ride was around an hour and a half, during which we listened to a mixture of popular american and latin american music (and did our best to sing along).
Once we got to Puerto Plata, we got off the bus and entered the lobby of the Teleferico cable car that. As we waited, we listened to a band play traditional merengue and watched a few locals dance along. After a short while we went to the platform of the cable car entrance, there was a magician performing some spectacular tricks. When we finally got to the top of the mountain, we looked out to see the beautiful view that was before us. We could see the ocean, the city, and the forest below us. After admiring the view, we decided to take a gander at the beautiful flowers, lagoon and most importantly, the cave. After viewing the cave we went back down on the cable car and headed to lunch. Our lunch was beautifully prepared by a local Dominican restaurant.
Following lunch, was the Amber Museum, which thankfully had air conditioning. Our wonderful tour guide talked about the origin of the amber and its significance. One interesting thing we learned at the museum was that a piece of the amber from the museum was used during the filming of the original Jurassic Park. After the exhibit and gift shops, we got back on the bus and went to an old Dominican war fort. We took a tour of the fort and took pictures at the very top which overlooked the coast.
After coming home and eating a well prepared dinner, we listened to a moving speech by a mentor at home base, Ric. He talked about justice and in particular, social justice. He had us do an exercise which compared the treatment of white american men to others around the world. After the exercise he told us moving first hand stories about injustice and poor treatment of immigrants in the United States. After he closed, many of us had streams of tears running down our faces and sadness in our hearts. Overall, the speech was eye opening and motivating. In conclusion, shoutout to Ric and all the other mentors for making today fun, informational and powerful.
– Maya and Grace
Today we worked in Polanco on leveling a basketball court, finishing a bathroom, and flooring a house. It was very exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. Being the leaders of the day was more stressful than we thought it would be. Telling people to work harder was challenging because we didn’t want to look rude but we needed to get the work done. As a result, we were able to finish the ground work of the basketball court and the bottled walls. We even started to cement the walls to support them. Although our group became a bit chaotic and tired at the end we still stayed positive and strong and finished our work well.
After we came back from Polanco, we went to the beach next to our lodge and played kickball and soccer with the locals. Then we came back and heard positive reflections about our leaderships from our peers and the mentors. Following dinner, we heard a life changing speech by Dave and learned about environmental issues around the world and more specifically the issues existing in the DR. Although we tried our best, we still didn’t get to finish what we expected today. If we are leaders of the day at some point during this trip we will try to finish our work more efficiently. Overall, however, it was exciting to be the leaders of the day and to lead such an amazing and talented group of people.
– Noah and Brent
Today marked our last day in Polanco. Dave joked about punishments if we didn’t finish enough of the basketball court. One group worked on completing the wall surrounding the court while another mixed cement. Sometimes it appeared that more cement ended up on our faces and clothes than the actual wall.The strongest lugged buckets of sand, cement and water over and around the wall. Others scavenged the town for plastic bottles to put in the wall. The locals generously donated any plastic bottles they had lying in their yards. While waiting for cement to be prepared, some students took it upon themselves to clean trash from the river. Meanwhile, Doña Celia prepared some delicious chicken tacos and of course some pineapple for dessert. Those who were still hungry bought 20 cent bags of Carne Asada flavored Lays, cookies and Red Rocks sodas from the colmado/corner store.
After returning to home base, some people jumped in the pool while a few girls went to the beach to tan and the boys raced. We ended the day with an informative lecture on business leadership techniques and quiet games around the pool.
– Taytumn and Maya
Today we had a day off from our previous service projects and got to spend our time exploring Dudu and Playa Preciosa. At Dudu we went zip-lining and cliff jumping into a refreshing lagoon, played lots of beach volleyball and soccer, and of course, had many photo shoots with the beautiful scenery around. We then headed to Playa Preciosa where we swam, jumped waves, and relaxed after our long day of adventures. Before heading back to home base we were surprised with a trip to the local super market. Everyone loaded up with their favorite snacks including some Dominican treats. We ended the day after dinner with a documentary regarding the conflict between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It was very interesting and helped us gain a greater understanding about the community that we are living in. Overall, despite the couple of belly-flops and the mosquito bites, we’d say this was one of the best days of adventuring yet!
– Olivia and Meredith
Today we went to Caraballo to visit a clinic/community center where we painted the outside walls and the inside rooms. We used yellow, blue, and white on the inside to paint the walls. Overall, I think our experience as leaders of the day went well. There are some things that we can improve on for when we’re leaders of the day again. Caraballo, a Haitian and Dominican community and it was really sad just to see how they live. They live in extreme poverty and they are not able to access a lot of things that we are able to receive on a daily basis. For example, we have access to clean drinking water and they don’t have a clean wager supply to drink from. As leaders, we wanted to show everyone that you don’t have to be aggressive and forceful when being leaders of the day, but it didn’t really work out as planned as we wanted it to. This is because that if you’re not aggressive at times then people will not want to do work or they won’t volunteer themselves to do a job or be relaxed about doing that certain job so you want to be a little aggressive towards some people so that they can get a job done. Everyone was very concentrated and we all were able to get a large chunk of work done quickly in the first 30 minutes of painting the clinic. We eventually took a tour around the community and they showed us how they live everyday and it wasn’t pleasant. They share one small room with up to 10-15 people and that’s really rough. But we really hope that change comes for those people because right now they’re relying on waiting for god to come and save them.
– Zion and Ben
June 24, 2016