Time Capsule Letter
I’m sure you all miss waking up to the odd howling of Ernie & Oscar, our home-base mascots, as they MOOed like cows outside of our cabins bright and early each morning! Or waking up to the sweet melody of your top bunk roomie’s alarm clock going off for 10 minutes straight. How about our delicious breakfast of eggs, pancakes, cereal and toast every morning?
Or the smell of bug spray and sunscreen blowing into our cabins by a rare but much needed breeze? Ohh, I know we all miss when the water pressure would go weak mid-shower because everyone else is also showering off the cement from their legs. Then, there is always the good old shower companion that startles you when you catch a glimpse of the lizard or frog on the wall! Ahh, yes… the many nights spent trapping giant spiders in a plate and a bowl. Oh the joys of cabin life! But it’s these little quirks that allowed us all to bond so quickly in just 10 days!
When we weren’t running around screaming our heads off from harmless bugs, we were swimming in the refreshing pool, cooling off from a hard days work at service. Or sitting pool-side chatting away with all of our new friends. We ate the best big rice in the world, celebrated Jackie’s birthday dancing the wobble flashmob while William was finishing his chicken, and even adopted a coconut named Wilson who accompanied us in our last days of adventure ! We played so many funny games like electricity you got so good at, that you were unbeatable at the end.
We went to so many beautiful beaches, swam in crystal clear ocean water, lagoons and caves! We ran like our lives depended on it across miles and miles (or so it felt..) of burning hot sand. We haggled prices with local vendors to get carlos’ shirt and had our backs massaged by local women at the beach.We embarked on a catamaran boat ride to our beautiful snorkeling destination and saw vibrant colored fish swimming below us. And don’t forget the memorable hike to Brison, that the rest of the world feared but we climbed with a smile on our faces and a little bit of sweat on our t-shirts. We learnt how mountain communities live in the DR, and how Dona Maxima loves to live there and she wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
Like many who visit the Dominican Republic, we enjoyed delicious beverages while relaxing in the sun, with our toes in the sand. But our experience was much more than that, our experience will live on in our hearts, our experience was unique and empowering. We traveled here to learn about WHO the Domincan Republic is.
We witnessed a different way of living as local families in rural and small communities welcomed us into their homes and shared their stories with us. We saw the struggles and strides that people in the DR face daily. We get to leave the DR with so much more then a sun tan. Our local Director and friends, Walner, Loubens, shared with us the difficulties that Haitian people in the Dominican Republic face everyday. Tito and Maycon told us the different lives one can face in the DR. Our hearts and minds feel full and inspired to continue to learn about global issues and take action.
We learned about how we allow inequality into our everyday lives and how people from all over the world are given different opportunities based on the color of their skin or the place in which they were born. We learnt how to become Global Citizens of the world and how to contribute to global issues. We hope you all feel empowered to make changes in these systems. Although you are home now, surrounded by all of your comforts, we hope you continue to travel and gain a worldly view. Continue to educate and inspire those around you. We hope you always carry an open mind and an open heart.
Thank you for making this experience everything that it was! You have inspired and taught us along the way and we hope that you continue to BE THE CHANGE that you want to see in this world!
Jessica, Walner, Loubens, Jackie, William, Carlos
Sunday July 7, 2019
Good night everybody!!
We are Jessica, Jackie, William, Walner and Carlos and we are reporting from the north shore of the Island of Hispaniola, here in our beautiful lodge in Las Canas community.
We are having our daily meeting and we are loving to write you as we enjoy the soft sound of the waves in the distance and look at the stars in this clear summer night.
The sun came back after two days of rains and with him our students join us after a long day of airports and planes. They all are in their rustic cabins ready for a night of sleep before heading to their first day of service work tomorrow morning.
We’ll be building a bottle house in the small village of Caño Dulce. We are all excited about it.
Buenas noches from the D.R!!
Tuesday July 9, 2019
Today’s day started off with a relaxing ab workout by the beach next to the waves. After breakfast, we all headed to our second day at Cano Dulce for service. We had teams of people working on shoveling sand, mixing cement, hammering nails, stacking bottles, and pasting cement. Everyone did an amazing job remaining positive in the heat and staying diligent to their work (go us!!).
After working for a few hours, we played a fun game of basketball with the locals (sadly but not surprisingly, they knocked our socks off), and it was really nice to get to interact with the locals on a more personal level. After lunch, we went back to working on our bottle house service project for a few more hours where we managed to complete an entire new portion of the house!!
Once we returned back to the home base, we had a lot of free time to hang out, and most of us decided to chill in the pool that’s conveniently located right outside of our rooms 🙂 After free time and dinner concluded, we watched an informative video on the divide between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This topic was very powerful because none of us were very knowledgeable about the divide as well as the inherent racism that exists between these people that share their home island.
We were also lucky enough to hear first hand accounts from two staff members here at the home base, Walner and Loubens, about their experiences in dealing with and living through this racism. It was a very eye-opening experience for all of us that allowed us to see the island of Hispaniola in a light we had never known existed. We’re super pumped for Dudu Lagoon tomorrow and to continue learning more about this beautiful and vibrant island!!
See you all soon 🙂
Emerson Cilley, Sydney Brister, and Cam Cilley
Wednesday July 10, 2019
Hello blog readers! Today we started off our day with a delicious breakfast of pancakes, eggs and fresh fruit. We got up extra early to get a head start on our beach/lagoon day. First we went to Dudu Lagoon, where we went cliff-jumping (don’t worry parents, it was only 6 feet), swam in the clear blue water and played a round of competitive volleyball after lunch.
To get everyone energized before our next bus ride we played a game of Red Rover and then we were off
to La Playa Preciosa. There we had piña coladas in fresh pineapples,took lots of beach photos and splashed around in the waves. Many of us also bought gorgeous hand-made jewelry from local vendors and some of us even got cornrows. We came home just in time for our Americanized dinner of fried chicken and fries before finishing the day off with a debate on ethical dilemmas.
Buenas noches from Las Canas, Sloan, Ffiona and Anna
More photos from Wednesday!
Thursday July 11, 2019
Good night from the DR!
This morning we had a hardy breakfast and headed out for our third service day. As we made the walk to the service site we were greeted by the familiar faces of the locals. We continued to work on the bottle house. Before heading to lunch we played a friendly game of basketball with kids in the community. After a delicious lunch we continued to work on the house. We came back and took a dip in the pool before heading to our first spanish lesson.
As leaders of the day we had the privilege to facilitate our peers in a debate on international development and how it may affect illegal immigrants and the low socioeconomic neighborhoods. It was really interesting to hear from all different perspectives; the government, human rights representatives, environment representatives, and Local community affected.
After this debate, speaking on behalf of our peers we all realized the difficulty on coming to a consensus on a such an impactful and controversial development. It was a unique and eye opening discussion that left us all pondering the reality of international development especially in the Dominican Republic.
-Hats off to a great day from Evie, Claire, and Maggie
Friday July 12, 2019
Today we started with a HIIT workout on the beach lead by Emerson. Students then departed to the Cabarete community to do a trash clean up before swimming in the caves. At the caves, there was an opportunity to jump a 15 foot drop into the refreshing water below.
Then we went to the beach and had great pizza for lunch followed by swimming and tanning. After we got back everyone had time to reflect and read during our time for self. Then everyone had some pool time and dinner.
After, we played a game of electricity, where people had unique dance moves that they had to ‘pass’ to other students. There was an activity after dinner in which we talked about our idenities based on different parts of our lives such as race, class, religion ,etc.
Then we had mentor groups and we went to bed. Excited for the hike tomorrow!
Love Tess Anderson, Julianna Lotti, and Jenna Wisler
Hello from the DR!
We started this morning with our usual breakfast to fuel us for our hike to Mt. Bríson. The hike was well worth it when we were able to buy bread and bracelets from a local woman named Juanita. After buying food and bracelets from her, we had a look into her abundant garden with chinolas (passion fruit), pigs and banana trees. We had stunning views of mountain sides, cows, palm trees, and plenty of chickens, turkeys, horses and donkeys carrying milk and people. About a 1/4th of a mile up we stopped to look at a local school that had 2 classrooms for 4 grades of students. At the top we stopped at another local named Doña Máxima’s house for lunch and a Q&A with her, where she talked about her life and how she acts as a leader for the community.
After our hike we took an adventure to the supermercado to load up on delicious sugary snacks. With full bellies and happy hearts, we got back to the lodge, and took a dance and cooking lesson! We all enjoyed peeling and smashing plantains and participating in the Bachata dance.
Today was our mentor Jackie’s birthday. We made her signs, had a “wobble dance” flashmob and ate cake to celebrate her special day!
After dinner, our 3 mentor groups met again, Carlos’s group headed to the beach to watch the beautiful sunset. Then, at exactly 10 PM we all QUIETLY went to sleep! 🙂 Goodnight, and see you all very soon!!!
Ava, Sophie, and Bri
Sunday July 14, 2019
Today was our last day of service, instead of working on the bottle house we mixed cement for a family in Caño Dulce. The cement was used for the floor of the house and our goal was to finish it in one day so that the family of 6 could move their belongings back into their home as soon as possible.
It was really interesting to experience a new focus for our service and we all really felt the effects of manual labor. We were extremely proud of everyone today as we all persevered through a rainstorm and everyone worked really well together. We also talked to Johnny, who is a beekeeper in the community and he gave us a tour of his bee hives. His father handed down the job to him after occupying it for many years, and he is known to have the best honey in the community.
After our day of work, we rewarded ourselves with ice cream. 🙂 We also had a discussion called, GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT, with Kate, one of the 7 Elements Staff. We discussed what it means to be a global citizen and how we can remain involved in service, giving back, and making a change when we return home. We shared about how this trip has inspired us to be more aware of world around us and being aware of global issues and taking and creating opportunities to help the world around us in any way we can.