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 Pringles can. 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 went to the grocery store and bought entire CAKES (oy vey) to celebrate “LOD day” as we sang “HAPPY LOD DAY TO YOU” prancing about in the Gazebo!
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 and had our hair braided and beaded 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.
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.
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, Loubens, Jackie, Carlos, William
Tuesday June 25, 2019
Buenos días!! Here the CSA mentors from the Dominican Republic.
Our students made it to the island of Hispaniola, safe and sound last night. After a long day of flights and delays, pool, sunset at the beach and orientation, they were all so tired than run away to bed and we had to wait for this morning to take a nice group photo.
We are now having breakfast looking forward to our first service day and the arrival of two more students today (Christopher and Francis)!!
Wednesday June 26, 2019
We began our 1st day of program with a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, oatmeal, toast, and coco puffs. After breakfast we took a short bus ride down to the Cano Dulce community to start work on a bottle house for a very kind family. The family we are helping had been trying for twelve years to get a house of their own and they were so thankful to GLA and 7 Elements for helping them.
We worked using chicken wire, metal, and bottles to make walls, and then put cement that we mixed ourselves to cover the aforementioned wall panels. The job was very laborious and definitely had everyone sweating under the hot caribbean sun. For lunch we had pork, rice w/gandules, fruit, and eggplant.
Throughout the day it was really cool to see the locals, who were so happy to share their community with us. The experience from today was eye-opening for a lot of us. We all came back and washed off in the pool and then ate a dinner consisting of fried-fish, spaghetti and potatoes. We were then given a lecture about the Seven Elements of human security, which is what the foundation here in the DR is named after. Seven elements works in partnership with GLA to do service learning projects for College and High School students. To finish off the day we got into our mentor groups and chatted with each other about our backgrounds and personal goals before going to bed. Hasta Luego Amigos!
Written by Genaba, Teddy, and James
Thursday June 27, 2019
After multiple alarm attempts, we all finally hopped out of bed at 8am. Threw on some clothes and talked to my cabin mates before breakfast. Everyday we have volunteers that make up the “Leaders of the day” I volunteered to be the time keeper. This task requires gathering the group, maintaining the daily schedule, and deciding table groups for breakfast and dinner, as well as transportation.
After breakfast we load onto the buses and head out for service. We returned to work on a bottle house for the second day. We sorted plastic bottles, put up chicken wire on the walls, then stuff plastic bottles between the chicken wire and “sweet” wire. Then we put concrete over top of the bottles contained by chicken wire. And that’s how we make the walls between the wall frame.
We played a few fun games of basketball with locals in the community. Then we ate our lunch with Jonny, a beekeeper in the community and his family. He lives right up the path from the bottle house that we worked on. Jonny is a very nice man, who lets us try the honey and honeycomb as a thanks for what we are doing in his community.
After service work, we went to the beach and played frisbee. We had a debate and learned about human rights and Dominican and Haiti global issues.
Friday June 28, 2019
Today was an excursion day in between our service days in caño dulce. We started off the day taking an hour and half bus ride to the DUDU lagoons. We were able to jump into the lagoon from a cliff and swim around. Afterwards, we ate lunch at the local restaurant and played volleyball. Then we departed for the beach.
We took a fifteen-minute bus ride to playa precision (beautiful beach) and had some free time. We had virgin piña coladas and were able to purchase souvenirs rom local merchants.
We then departed for home and ate dinner. We did a lecture/group discussion about morals and ethics, which everybody had lots of information to share about the topics. After that we did an unknown truths activity that everyone enjoyed and laughed. We wrapped up the night with fun activities that brought everybody closer to each other, and the day was looked after upon as a very fun part of the trip.
Written by Amelia, Azaria, Addie
Saturday June 29, 2019
Today we started our morning with a proper breakfast of eggs, oatmeal, toast and loads of other heart-healthy things! We began the day with a bus ride to Caño Dulces where we sang songs and listened to music to get in a happy mood for the day. Excited for the day, we started working on the bottle house by mixing cement and plastering it onto the walls, which gave the new walls a clean finish.
By around noon, we were finished with one room and about halfway done with a second. The boys had loads of fun using the pick axe to break up the dirt for the septic tank. The sun was very hot but that did not lower our moods. We were still able to have fun and get a lot of work done.
Next, we walked over to a different part of the community where we participated in a game of basketball with the locals. They kicked our butts! Afterwards, we ate a delicious lunch of rice & veggies, pork with a special sauce and loads of fruit. We had a rowdy game of freeze dance, where we all got out some of our energy. We began working for about 2 more hours before we left to go home.
Covered head to toe in dirt and cement, we were all antsy to get showered off and into the pool. The girls convinced the boys to get a little pampered by the pool. We ate a delicious dinner of chicken tenders, french fries and macaroni salad.. which we were all excited for. After stuffing ourselves till we were ready to burst, we got to enjoy some activities with William. Once the winner of the games were declared, we sat down for a group activity about self-acknowledgement called the Identity Walk.
After the interesting discussion we had time to sit with our mentor groups. We discussed the activity that had just happened and how we felt about it and then answered some feedback questions for the mentors to be able to have a better understating of how they could better our experience. Overall we had a fun but tiring day and we are all ready for sleep!
P.S. I love and miss you Mom and Dad and Kyle – Mireya<3
Sunday June 30, 2019
We began the day with picking up trash in the local community, in the villa of Cabarete. Kids were separated into groups of 2, one was assigned to pick up trash and the other had to pick up plastic.
The trash was to be thrown away in a secure place, while the plastic collected would be used later to bulid a boat for the community.
Everyone spent an hour collecting trash and made a huge impact on the cleanliness of the area. After collecting trash we took a short walk up to a cave by the city. Upon entering the cave students saw the beautiful pool of crystal clear water. Some students decided to take the daring jump and hop off the cliff while other decided to slip in through the deck on the bottom. Quick shout out to Teddy who took the jump after a hesitant twenty minutes, and Grace who jumped right in with no hesitation.
The cave’s water felt very refreshing after a scorching hot morning of volunteering.
After an amazing fun time in the cave we headed out and took a quick drive to pick up some pizza.
The amazing Carmella and Lakin decided pineapple on pizza would be a great choice and all the other students agreed.
Especially because all we’ve eaten so far has been rice and beans, and pineapple, but for some reason we decided to get pineapple on it even though we’ve had it for every single meal since the day we arrived!
At the beach we all took a really trippy panorama. It will blow your mind. The sand was so hot on the bottom of our feet but thank god we had our LODs to save us and that bottom layer of skin. In the ocean fish swam around. The water was so clear you could see underwater without goggles , it was crazy yo.
Loubens, which is one of our mentors/ friend/ best friend/ life adviser/ my favorite person/ father figure/ the person that can’t remember anyone’s name was so scared to go under water, which is crazy because he is in his twenties. After the beach we got to go to the supermarket to gather our nourishment for the next few years (we’ve decided to stay here for a little longer). Immediately entering the store, we bought only the essentials: cake, baguette, doritos, whipped cream. Lakin and Ethan ate the whole baguettein the twenty minute bus ride. The LODs shared the whole cake at the gazebo (#YOLO #carbsdon’tmatter bruh), but the non-LODs had to pay a small fee of $1 to have a slice so Ethan can gain some cash money flow.
Afterwards, we gladly jumped into the clean blue pool, however about 5 minutes later it was brown, let me tell you, it was #crazynastybruh but we persevered doe bro. And now… #NACHO MAMAS REGULAR NACHOS cuz they were soooo bomb.com. Best dinner yet, hands down. After dinner, we did not have a lecture doe, so that means more free time doe that we wasted our hour and a half writing this doe but it was fun doe #NOREGURTSDOE #OURLIFEISCRAZYDOE #LUVLYFEDOE… #BEDTIMENOWDOE #PEACEOUTDOE
PS dear future LOD: I hope you still believe in our #CARBSDONTMATTERDOEBRUH and life is still crazy yo.
Lakin, Ethan, Carmella and Rebecca
Monday July 1, 2019
Today started with an early breakfast at home base at 7:00 a.m. and we departed at 7:30.
Everyone exited the buses and reached the base of the hike at 9:00 a.m. After a long trek up in sweltering heat and steep hiking everyone we pushed through and made it
to the top of the mountain at 12:00 p.m.
We treated ourselves to some delicious ice cream after the usual chicken, beans and rice after Donna Maxima made everyone lunch we had a Q/A session with her and we learned about the community, but beforehand we took a rest stop at Julieta’s and bought sweet chocolate bread and colorful bracelets.
The descent began at 1:15 and went by much quicker taking only an hour to an hour and a half with some slipping. Passing by the friendly community members and people on horses. Everyone did a good job looking out for each others safety calling out for motorcycles.
The start of the hike was easy we all had lots of energy and we were eager to get to the top of the mountain. As the hike continued and the trail got steeper it was difficult to keep a positive attitude but thanks to Ethans awesome music we all kept going with high spirits. Half way through the hike we stopped and we were able to buy bracelets, fresh bread, and to use the restroom at Julieta’s lovely home. We also came across fresh juicy mangoes that were very mouthwatering. Ascending in the blazing heat powering through inclines and hills all the while we were Viewing baby chickens and watching the turkeys frolic and gobble.
A student, Parker, gave a beautiful call of the turkey. The students were cautious avoiding motorcycles calling “Moto, moto!!!” letting everyone in the group motorcylces were on the rocky roads. We waved hello to the friendly locals as the road horse back and walked on foot on their steep mountain trek. Upon hoping the fence to Donna Maxima we took group photos of the beautiful view while taking some great selfies.
We met her family and ate crispy chicken with rice and beans. After eating we began in depth conversation about human securities and asked her questions like where the nearest hospital was and many other questions in Spanish. She even asked the students some great questions like why we did this trip. After lots of chocolate and fruity ice cream we began our descent. We tried not to tumble down the loose and rocky path but Grace took an epic fall. We are off to bed now, cant wait to see what tomorrow brings!
-Written by Grace, Violet, Brandon, and Chris
Today, Tuesday, July 2nd, everyone woke up very early for breakfast and the two hour bus ride to our service site, La Grua, a Hatian/Dominican Batey (community). We helped to cement a basketball court GLA / 7 elements are building for the community and we were given a tour of it where we could see how life is in this part of the island. Very different to what you see about the DR on the internet or the news.
We ate lunch in the local school, and then we went back to continue our service and continue cementing the basketball court. Zoe, Lexi, and Addy played dominoes with the local children and everyone started joining in for a huge game of dominoes near the end of our service time.
Afterwards, we took the bus back to home base and to enjoy our last day in the pool and a great traditional dominican dinner (we had plantain lasagna). Our lecture was presented to us by our GLA counselor, Loubens, who is a Hatian living and working in the Dominican Republic. He spoke about the whole history of the Hatian and Dominican tensions and how they affect him to this day. We ended the night with plenty of fun games in our mentor groups and we also have been practicing our talents for the talent show, which is tomorrow.
– Zach, Zoe, Eva, and Aurora