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, theres 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 flying beetles in a handy-dandy or watching Ernie eat a beetle or two or Oscar feasting on one of our basketballs!
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 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 embarked on a catamaran boat ride to our beautiful snorkeling destination and saw vibrant colored fish swimming below us.
Who could some of the remarkable braiding provided for us and the Dominican pina colada (Virgin) drinks and shirts we got to try and buy! Who could forget Taco Night, Mac and cheese, and Sancocho over rice, or what about our hike up to Dona Maxima’s house in Brison? No matter what day it was we always pushed ourselves to try new things and go outside of our comfort zones; after all that is definitely why we came to the DR to do CSA in the 1st place, no?
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 friend, Loubens, shared with us the difficulties that Haitian people in the Dominican Republic face everyday. 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 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.
We were the 1st group and community that embarked on the journey and set the pace and task of building a house for a local family in Cano Dulce. We, just like the that very 1st stage of the bottle house, were the foundation for a structure that would evolve and grow incrementally over the course of the summer.
That is why the bottle house s is the perfect analogy for why we came to the Dominican Republic in the 1st place; we came to grow and transform ourselves on a day by day basis. Sometimes the pace was slow, challenging, and sometimes it was fast, but the outcome is a clear one. Just like the bottle house, we expanded, we developed, and we are not the same as when we began!
What we put into that living structure remains not only in a visble sense, but it will remain in a metaphysical sense forever! Dont forget your service hours goals and doing more service in your schools, universities and communities!
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!
Your Team, Loubens, Jackie, William, Carlos
Thursday June 13, 2019
Buenas noches from the land of palm trees!! This is Carlos, the Spanish Mentor for the CSA program.
All the kids made it safe and sound to our beautiful lodge in Las Canas. We also had a couple of missed flights and we are looking forward to meeting Clara and Tilla tomorrow. We visited the local beach, played some icebreakers and welcomed Sam and Lia who arrived just in time for our Dominican dinner!
We enjoyed, as Marc Anthony would say, un arroz con habichuelas and after introductions and orientation the kids are happily sleeping now. From now on, the Leaders of the Day a.k.a your daughters and sons will be authoring the future blog posts to help share about all their fun activities and experiences here in the beautiful Dominican Republic!
We are very excited for our very first service day tomorrow!!
Carlos – GLA Dominican Republic Staff
Friday June 14, 2019
Today we started working on our service project, a four room bottle house. The bottles are used for insulation and to reinforce walls.
We put the chicken wire on one side and stuffed the bottles in. We had a great lunch with rice, beans, and fresh fruit. We met a local member of the local Cano Dulce community named Elizabeth, who is going to move into the house with her family. She has four kids including a four year old boy who loves his toy dinosaurs. Afterwards we took swim and health tests and spent some time relaxing in the pool before and after dinner.
We finished out our day with a lecture and a video on the 7 elements of Human Security. We also met with our mentor groups for the first time and talked about our goals for program and when we return home. We can’t wait to begin day three of our program tomorrow and build off the momentum we achieved today!
-Written by Clara Lawrence, Sasha Ahem, and Carly Dilworth
Saturday June 15, 2019
Today we started with an interesting breakfast choice of mashed potatoes, oatmeal and fresh fruit. Before breakfast, the leaders gave a rundown of the day and scheduled out all the activities and service. The GLA students travelled to the Caño Dulce community to perform community service. The GLA students performed a multitude of service activities. This included constructing the house with bottles, chicken wire, regular wire, and a good attitude. All students were committed to the process, and were dedicated to the work at hand. Whether it was hammering nails into the wood, wrapping chicken wire, or digging holes for the new bathroom, all students stayed loyal and invested in their work.
For lunch we had great combination of rice and chicken, along with fruit and eggplant. After eating lunch, the students worked side by side with the community members and Elizabeth, the homeowner for the new house. The students also had the opportunity to play with Elizabeth’s son, Medellin, who was incredibly playful and happy. After service, the students toured the community, visiting a finished bottle house and learning center. We learned how the local people enjoy life, and thrive in the Dominican Republic. There were also various amounts of cute puppies that students enjoyed.
We then came back to home base and created our community agreement charter which ensured all students are respected and cared for by one another. We then had dinner and a full group debate on the implementation of a new stadium in the Dominican Republic, and its possible effect on the community and economy. Tomorrow we will be looking forward to a serene adventure at Dudu lagoon and Preciosa Beach, where they will bond and make new connections with each other and the nature around them.
Written by Andrew Lanesey , Tilla Segrave, & Saedy Branch
Sunday June 16, 2019
Hi everyone! This morning we woke up to our guard dogs Ernie and Oscar standing outside of our rooms howling super loud. We proceeded to get ready for the day, and we had a plentiful breakfast consisting of French toast, fruit, cereal, granola, hot chocolate and eggs. Everyone went back to the rooms to get ready for a big beach day. We departed at 9:15am and took an hour-long bus ride to Dudu Lagoon. The lagoon is an attraction consisting of fresh water swimming hole and a lake. We could not swim in the lake, but we spent a good solid few hours jumping into the cove lagoon Many of us played a few friendly games of volleyball and soccer with locals and staff. We ate lunch at the nearby restaurant, and left around 2:30 to make our way to the beach.
After a 30-minute bus ride, we arrived at Playa Preciosa. We got to swim in the blue water and lay on the white sand. A local vendor made us virgin pina coladas and we drank them from a pineapple. Some students made sand castles, while others stayed in the ocean and body surfed. Ladies walked by and asked us if we wanted to get our hair in cornrows, and another l man was selling desert toffee on the beach. We got a bunch of souvenirs from a jewlery vendor to remember this beautiful Dominican Beach.
At 4:30 we headed back to where we are staying, and got the chance to rinse off and shower before heading to dinner. 7 new students from another GLA program joined us. For dinner we had pasta, chicken tenders, fries, plantains, fruit, and some delicious mango juice. We ended the day with a self-awareness activity where we channeled which parts of our identity affected our lives and us the most. Students identified areas that they need to work on for self growth relating to our race, privilege, class, religion, and other factors. Now we shall wrap up this bca log because we have an hour of free time before lights out at 10. Stay tuned for the next update!
-Blog by Ben, Carly, and Sara.
Tuesday June 18, 2019
Today we woke up earlier than usual and ate a delicious breakfast in order to get in the van and drive to Mt. Brison. We had a fun bus ride where we played music and did sing-alongs.
Once we started hiking, we saw many animals including cows, chickens, dogs, and horses as well as astonishing views. At our first stop on the way up we saw an elementary school and we were amazed to find out that the local kids walk this hill everyday to go to school.
At our next stop we went to Juanita’s house and she offered us sweet bread, mangos, bracelets and water.
At the top of the hike, Dona Maxima made us lunch and let us eat at her house. We bought very yummy ice cream, including coconut cream and other fruity flavors.
After taking a few photos we descended down the mountain at a much faster pace! Once we finally reached the bottom, we cooled down with sodas from a local colmado. We rested on the bus ride back to the lodge and were able to swim in the pool and buy snacks. At the gate there was a local selling us fresh dominicana coconuts.
We proceeded with dinner at 6pm that was followed with an informing lecture of the discrepancies between the Dominan Republic and Haiti. We learned of the discriminations toward haitians in the Dominican Republic and what lead to this political tension.
This day’s agenda taught us many things that we may not have had the opportunity to learn at school. With the hike, we were able to simply scrape the surface of their daily challenges. The hike made us aware of many problems and was meant to encourage us to make a change. We are excited to see what tomorrow brings us.
More photos coming soon!
Blog post by Riley Hotchkiss, Lali Martinez, Justine Levy
More photos from yesterday:
Wednesday June 19, 2019
This morning we had a delicious breakfast of eggs, toast, oatmeal, and smoothies. We then drove to the caves, but on the way we stopped at an amazing American grocery store. It was the first time we had not been in a constant state of sweat. The snacks were cheap and yummy! Once we arrived at the Cabarete caves, we separated into groups and cleaned up trash with some community members so they can play in the park. It was cool.
In the afternoon, we jumped into the water at the cave. Next, we stopped for pizza and enjoyed it at the beach. We also enjoyed a wonderful day swimming in the clear ocean of the D.R. For dinner, we ate shredded chicken tacos, fruit, and drank cold, refreshing lemonade. The tacos were muy delisioso!
After dinner, and taking a bachata/salsa lesson we had a lecture regarding palm oil and the destruction it causes that many people are not aware of. To grow large palm oil plantations, land is taken from farmers at the farmers expense. The farmers not only lose their land but have to work for the palm oil companies. These companies do not provide insurance and easily dock workers pay if the work is not done to fit extreme demands. Palm oil is used in many everyday products for us including but not limited to: soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, and in food preservation. The documentary was extremely informative and enjoyable.
Before bed, we had another amazing mentor group where we got to know each other better and then we head to our lovely cabins to share another night with our friends.
Thursday June 20, 2019
Today we walked to a local house near the beach where we helped mix concrete and carry buckets of supplies to the house owner and workers. Our contribution made the house sustainable and a safe place to live in, we were able to cement the whole floor of the house. The entire community came out to watch and help us as we assisted in creating the house.
The house was small and made out of mostly scrap metal and pieces of wood. We had a lot of fun playing with the kids there who clearly enjoyed our presence with wide smiles and laughter all over. A woman in the community was nice enough to let all of us eat in her home. The service was tiring but rewarding because we felt a sense of pride as we made the last of the concrete to fill the floor of the man’s home.
We have improved our knowledge of global citizens through tonight’s lecture and video. A global citizen is someone who cares about global issues and wants to bring about change in the world. I believe everyone one of us will be able to apply this knowledge to our own communities and hopefully help fix major problems in the world. Ex: poverty, climate change, etc. One of the highlights of today was the very American-style dinner. We had mac and cheese and french fries which all of the kids enjoyed and thought was a nice break from the traditional rice and beans.
We are sad that our trip is coming to an end, but we are looking forward to our last excursion day consisting of snorkeling with tropical fish of the Dominican Republic.
-by Max Saia and Clara Freeman
On the last day in the DR we started off the day with breakfast at 8AM with french toast and delicious fruits. Soon after, we departed for Sosua, renting a boat and sailing out to go snorkel along the reef. After snorkeling and taking pictures for an hour or two, we headed back to Sosua beach to have pizza. Students went souvenir shopping and hung out on the beach for the last day. Some of us got massages and our hair done.
After a while we headed back to home base and did our final evaluations. We then finished off the night with mentor groups and a bonfire, the former reflecting upon our experiences throughout this trip and the latter celebrating our experiences we’ve had with each other throughout this trip.
As the bonfire died down, we started to realize that this was truly our last day in the DR and that the next we’d be off to our respective homes and would hopefully see each other again back in the States, ending our Caribbean Service Adventure.
-by Nolan and Aislinn