Monday June 11, 2018
Everyone arrived safely and soundly in the Dominican Republic today! … as per usual in the Caribbean, some took longer than others! The students had an exciting day getting to know the Lodge, and its two mascot dogs, Ernie and Oscar. The afternoon was spent exploring, chilling by the pool and getting to know each other. Our program Mentors Averia and Michaela completed health checks and one on ones with every student. Excitement and energy is high!
The group enjoyed a nourishing and typically local dish of rice, beans, chicken and salad, followed by mouthwatering pineapple and melon. After dinner, the Local and International Directors led an orientation, introducing the students to the country, its culture, as well as covering program policies and itinerary information. Leaders of the day were selected and put to their duties.
Already, the students are learning new cultural essentials, such as how to deal with huntsman spiders in their rooms, understanding dominican Spanish and how to get inside a mosquito net. Tomorrow, the group will complete their Brigade training with Javier, one of the local Directors, and visit the first clinic. All of the student´s seem very eager and enthusiastic to get started with their service learning adventure.
Tuesday June 12, 2018
This is Zoe and Samia reporting from the Dominican Republic. Today was fantastic. We prepared for our first medical brigade tomorrow by learning how to take vitals and can basically single-handedly run a hospital now (you would be so proud of me mom -Zoe). We got ice cream, went swimming, laid on the beach, set up hammocks, and got to know our new friends!!! We are Mc’loving it here.
Currently sitting in a hut during a lightning storm, next to a field of cows. And chickens. So far, 3 clogged toilets, 2 meals with rice and beans, and one broken ego. No phone service, no air-conditioning, no privacy, cold showers, 5 baseball-sized spiders, and spent my emergency money on ice cream, no regrets and sorry dad. Don’t worry, we’re fine.
See you in two weeks! We hope the first paragraph didn’t scare y’all too much.
Zoe and Samia
Unfortunately the cell service wouldn’t allow photo uploads, but keep an eye out for photos of the upcoming days of the program!
Wednesday June 13, 2018
Hello parents! This is Jack and Tristen live and in stereo from the Lodge. Today, we were able to apply the training from yesterday to the clinical brigade that we visited in Nueva York Chiquito (Little New York). We started the day with two bowls: one with Cocoa Puffs and one with Mashed Potatoes (Dinner for Breakfast?). An interesting combination, but it still worked. The village was an hour away, and on our voyage we picked up two translators and two doctors, seeing as we are neither fluent in Spanish nor do we have medical degrees. We were surprised on our arrival to see that the clinic was set up in someone’s back yard and in their home. 60 patients waited eagerly as we set up. There were several stations, which included Registration, Vitals, Interview, Waiting Room, Doctor Consultation, Pharmacy, and Data Transcription.
Vitals and Pharmacy were particularly interesting, as we assumed the roles of literal nurses and pharmacists. We measured the patients’ height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature. This means that we also filled, without legal certification, actual prescriptions for the patients. Trust us, it is much harder to do these things when you can’t communicate with the people! For example, an elderly woman stood on the numbers and dial instead of the actual scale.
Our shift started at 9 AM and ended at 3 PM, with a nice lunch at noon that was prepared by a local woman who invited us to dine in her living room. Lunch consisted of rice, broccoli, pasta salad, and pork. While the kids were waiting to be seen, we taught them to play Tic Tac Toe, Rock Papers Scissors (Piedra Papel Tijeras), and how to blow bubbles (burbujas)! After we got home, we were all very excited to jump into the pool after a very hot day.
Dinner was fantastic, as the cooks prepared comfort foods such as french fries and fried chicken. Our daily lecture was a simulated debate between the South African government, a large pharmaceutical company, and a human rights organization over the high prices of anti-HIV/AIDS medications. It got a little unruly and confusing, and in end the judges ruled in favor of the pharmaceutical company.
However, everyone had their own opinions on the outcome and thus we are conducting the same debate in two weeks. Overall, today was a very eye-opening and humbling experience in which we were first able to dive into the community and culture of the Dominican Republic through a medical and global health framework. We are tired of typing now so be prepared for the next update in the blog post.
-Jack and Tristen
Thursday June 14, 2018
Hey y’all, Zaria and Tatum in the house! We’ve just read yesterday’s blog and are extremely intimidated by its quality, but we’ll try our best! (Thanks a lot Tristen and Jack; your writing is a lot to live up to, jeez.) Today was sweaty. We won’t lie. Lots of sweat. Lots. Our day began when the cows and roosters decided to hold a screeching competition at the crack of dawn. We were then treated to a delectable breakfast of eggs, sausage, frosted flakes, coffee, and hot chocolate. Stomachs full and heads held high (yet somewhat tired), we boarded a bus heading to Caño Dulce.
At this site, we aimed to construct two bathrooms, using empty plastic bottles as insulation. (Innovative AND eco-friendly!!) After our arrival, we split into two groups and were handed nails and hammers. We began cutting chicken wire, stacking bottles, and hammering away.
After a morning of hard work, we met back up for lunch, which was served to us by a local mother. (Our hands were almost too tired to lift our forks). We then hoisted our hammers and set back on constructing our bottle houses. We completed today’s work around 3 o’clock and drove back to the lodge.
No sooner than our bags hit the floor, we hit the pool, completely exhausted and drenched in sweat. After lounging, tanning, and swimming, we cleaned up and headed to dinner: TACO NIGHT!!!! Tonight’s charla (lesson) was a joint leadership and identity activity with another program. So ladies and gentlemen, that means it’s time to hit the hay! The sweaty, mosquito-netted hay. We’ll be expecting some sore muscles tomorrow, but it was worth it; we’re looking forward to tomorrow… We’ll keep you posted!
-by Tatum and Zaria
Friday June 15, 2018
Hello parents who are patiently waiting for an update on the blog. This is Kate and Annabel. It’s currently day 5, and we’re still at a consistent count of 19 people (surprisingly)… Today we woke up bright and early to some ferocious hammering that we’re not quite sure where it came from, given it was 6:50 in the morning. We enjoyed some wonderful pancakes, bacon as crispy as Annabel (sorry momma), eggs, and our dose of daily fruit.
We hopped on our bus that was definitely hotter than a sauna and opened every window until the driver told that we would be much happier if we closed the windows and let the AC do its job. Let’s just say he was right. We made a quick detour to the grocery store to exchange some money before we turned around to start out first adventure day. We got off the bus to meet the family that would take us down the river to our perfect tanning spots (or burning spots). Before we embarked, we got to take a tour through their family zoo where we met Blanco the dog.
We got on the boat and took a scenic ride that took us to the “beach.” We laid all of our towels out, applied sunscreen (Yes mom we did wear sunscreen and reapplied), and enjoyed the sun. After a hard swim, we made it to the other side of the river. We then took a quick lunch break where we had some fried chicken and rice and beans of course. We headed back to our perfect spot and encountered some mean wind that pelted sand at our fried skin. Once we realized that the sun did as much damage to our skin as it did to our energy levels, we mopped onto the even hotter bus after sitting in the sun all day.
At the lodge we took the nicest freezing showers ever. Something we never thought we would say. We applied our bucket loads of aloe (thanks Alise). We then had lasagna for dinner (not as good as yours momma, don’t worry) and sat down to learn about the Dominican and Haitian relationship. We are passed exhausted given that we could barely hold our heads up to write this blog (given the numerous spelling errors). Now we are off to bed in our not so very comfy beds and semi-protective bug nets. Peace out y’all.
Shout out to my fam bam & Dawson I love y’all and can’t wait to see you guys but I am having a fabulous time.
Love, Kate and Annabel
Saturday June 16, 2018
Hello it’s the best LODS(Leaders of the day), Emilie and Bella, coming to you from the lodge. Today has been the most grueling day yet. We started off with breakfast at 7 am, an hour earlier than normal!! By now we have been able to ignore the loud chickens and cows in the morning but today we really needed them to help us get up. After a delicious breakfast of cinnamon oatmeal we headed out on a 2 hour bus ride to a community called La Grua. Once we arrived in the batey, a community of Dominicans and Haitians, we were greeted with 9 bags of cement. Before we had even started working we were already sweating, fun tip: long pants and the humidity do not work well together. Our challenge in the community was to construct a cement floor for a single mother and her daughter. We got right to work and made fast progress, despite the intense heat. The strenuous workout of mixing and carrying cement wore us out so much that everyone needed at least seconds of our lunch, that consisted of BBQ chicken, beans, chips, queso, and fresh fruit.
After lunch we were still worn out so we decided to take a community tour and go see the Haitian part of La Grua. Seeing the Haitian part showed us all how necessary our work is and we got a fun surprise by seeing 2 little piglets running around with their huge mother. Then we got back to work, and luckily, we had worked hard in the morning so we did not have much to do. After finishing the floor we headed back to the lodge on another 2 hour bus trip. We made a pit stop at a grocery store, where we were pleasantly surprised with air conditioning. Even after refueling ourselves on ice cream and other sweets, we still needed further cooling down with the ice cold showers. Then we were treated to another dinner of, surprise surprise, chicken and rice. We concluded our day by learning about how poverty can be shown in many different ways. Goodnight, don’t let the mosquitos bite!
Bella and Emilie <3
P.S. we both love and miss our families and friends but were having a blast!!(:
Sunday June 17, 2018
Sup y’all it’s Sunday!!
Happy Father’s Day! (Sorry most of us didn’t call) P.S: we noticed your salt in the family group chat when you wished the other Dads a happy Father’s Day before we texted you -Rayna and Jaya. (Hope your father’s day was great and your flight was even better *even with the ferret* -Jaya) (have fun in China without me. I swear it won’t be as fun -Rayna)
Today we went to Caño Dulce again to work on our previously started bottle house bathrooms. #bottlebaño. We had to mix another three bags of cement. Then came the water. After what seemed like hours of cutting chicken wire we ended up finishing the walls of the bathroom. Then came the process of slapping wet cement onto the walls with our bare hands. It’s a cute summer look. After a sadly short bus ride home, we took our cold showers and sat in our hammocks. Pretty sure we turned 3 shades darker. Meanwhile, the best of us are fighting the battle of using scented conditioner and attracting bugs, or having hair as dry as the cement. We made friendship bracelets after. Jack decided to get a hair wrap (attached photo) and none of us are sure about the outcome. Although we are super tired we had an absolutely amazing day!
Monday June 18, 2018
We kicked off our second week with a (much appreciated) hour-later start and some good old fashioned “Dominican” (Salty, not sweet) toast, as well as beloved Coco Puffs and refreshing banana smoothie. Everyone rejoiced at the prospect of laundry day, filling pillow cases with dirty clothes from our various daily embarkations. With everyone accounted for, our daily adventure began, taking us for the first time to the community of Polanco.
Today’s task was to dig trenches, but instead of for hiding from artillery we built them to lay down piping to provide clean water to an area which previously had limited accessibility. It was undeniably a laborious day, but the work was well worth it because of the good it provides to their community members. Queque (Sounds like Keke) was a phenomenal host, distributing ice to our exhausted selves in the midst of a heat-marred (?!) and ever-humid afternoon after having already fed us a tasty meal of pork, rice (What a surprise!), broccoli, salad, and fruit. Following a quick bus ride home, we arrived back at the homebase excited to cool off in the pool, only to discover that a thunderstorm was approaching. The group concluded the day with a constructive discussion about international food security (and a lack thereof) and much excitement for the following day’s excursion to Dudu Lagoon (Stay tuned to learn more!).
Over and out, Luke and Tanush
Tuesday June 19, 2018
Hola! Alise and Aaliyah here! Today’s morning was your typical breakfast of eggs, fruit, granola, frosted flakes, and coffee with a special twist: nutella and bread! You can say we were all pretty excited to have a treat that tasted like home.
We got on the bus at 9:15 to embark on our adventure to Dudu Lagoon. After a 45 minute bus ride, we arrived! We were already in awe at the beautiful scenery before even catching a glimpse of the lagoon itself. After dropping off our stuff and settling down, we cheered on our peers as they dared to plunge off of a zipline into the 85 foot deep lagoon. As some people did a perfect pencil, others belly flopped into the depths of the pool. Don’t worry we are all a-okay! We enjoyed our time at the lagoon and nearby caves, restaurants, and volleyball courts before heading out again.
Our next destination was Playa Preciosa, a stunning beach with soft, white sand and clear, blue waters. About a quarter into our swimming, a few vendors came down to the beach with hand-made, authentic souvenirs. After some bargaining, everyone was satisfied with their purchase! The rest of our time was spent relaxing in the shade, swimming in the water and sipping on our (virgin- don’t worry mom!) pina coladas. It was the perfect way to rejuvenate after our community service days!
-by Alise and Aaliyah
Wednesday June 20, 2018
¡Hola padres! The roosters crowed at 4 AM, signaling our periodic awakening. We officially wake up at 7:30 AM, rush to brush our teeth and sprint for the picnic tables, (A.K.A breakfast. A.K.A BECK’fast). On our conformed Dominican time, we left a little after 9:15 for our last visit to our bathrooms in Caño Dulce. After manually mixing cement, forcefully cementing walls, endlessly cutting and hammering chicken wire into the wall, GHI-A went on a community tour! This community tour consisted of our aquatinted dog Boca Negra, “Black Mouth”, a [literal] wire bridge most people expected to break, and many people resisting to swat at honey bees. Most of our group ate honey comb freshly sliced from the comb, as others fled in fear of the bees shouting “BEES, BEES, BEES!” On our way back from the community tour many of us learned that thorns can grow on trees. We also learned about cacao farming and other native plants to the DR. We headed back to the Mateo’s house to eat lunch with his expressive 11 month old son, and chihuahua.
Post lunch, we flung cement at the wall, and finished the bathrooms as much as we could. We fled the bathrooms to the bus, only to sprint into the supermarket with limited time, not finding what we needed, but what we wanted: SNACKS! We headed back to the lodge; Some of us stuffed our faces with the snacks we bought approximately 15 minutes before and others went swimming with our mascots, Ernie and Oscar. We ate dinner and headed to the beach to see the beautiful sunset. While many were photogenic, Natalie was not. Very few of us got too friendly with the ocean and felt it reject us after being slapped by a wave, which left our gluteus maximus’ soaked. We enjoyed an informative Charla with the lovely Liv about world consumerism and the raise in degrees of Celsius and Fahrenheit. Directly after, groups separated and met with our mentors. Finally your favorite and most comical LODs (Leaders of the Day), Natalie and Rebecca met and typed the blog.
-by Natalie and Rebecca
Thursday June 21, 2018
We’re reaching the end of our trip and finally getting used to our eating and sleeping conditions. We slept perfectly fine throughout the night some to wake up for a morning workout on the beach before our desayuna muy sabrosa (very delicious breakfast) of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. After our vitamin distribution lesson with Javi, we were on our way to the school in La Cantera, where we would be distributing those vitamins to the children of the school.
The stations were the same as they were at the clinic on day three, except they were bit more chaotic because the children were playful and goofy. We collected their vital signs and weekly dietary intake, afterwards, they picked up the vitamins that the kids saw as delicious candies. To finish our time in La Cantera, we went on a community tour, where we hiked half way up the side of a mountain to see a giant Virgin Mary and a breathtaking view one would expect to see on television.
We headed back and gathered into our debate groups to prepare our arguments over the Big Pharma vs South African government court case. After our discussion, we ate our cena muy rica (very rich dinner) of chicken tenders and fries with vegetables. We watched the documentary, Poverty Inc, during charla. We held a deep discussion in our mentor groups over orphanages in developing countries, such as Haiti. Now we are half asleep, typing this Leader of the Day blog as we close our day.
Good night parents. We love you. It’s been real. <3
Friday June 22, 2018
Hey GHI families!
Today´s leaders of the day are Zoe and Jaya (the bestest LODs of the day). I would like to let everyone know Zaria fell out of her top bunk bed last night and I don´t think I´ve ever laughed harder (Zoe). This morning we had a nice 9am breakfast before hopping on the bus to Polanco where we dug trenches for a few hours to provide plumbing to the community. It was very rewarding work. At lunch we had chicken, rice and beans; then we begged for pizza and had a dance party in the community contacts´ house to Childish Gambino. Then, ever on the #grind, we picked up our shovels and got back to hauling dirt. Soon, our sweet sweet prayers were answered, and we had finished our final community service project and left the beloved Polanco trenches.
Upon return home, there were many quibbles between roommates over who got first shower and Hilary, our Director took some students to practice meditation on the beach. At 5, we had our long anticipated debate over a lawsuit between South Africa vs. Big Pharma. We discussed the universal human rights of property ownership vs. the right to life and in our court of law, Big Pharma won. We analyzed the ethical versus logistical aspects of the case and how it posed conflict between our hearts and our minds, as one mentor put it.
Then for dinner, more rice, chicken, and beans in our hearty tacos that we loved, and then we were back on the raw wood benches to learn about Voluntourism in Global Health. Voluntourism is volunteering in a foreign country and the ethical dilemmas this can pose. After an informative Charla, we learned the statistics of our brigade and vitamin distribution (picture below!) Then we broke into mentor groups to discuss our capstone projects and now we are tired and ready to hit the hay. In conclusion, today we pursued God, Gold, and Glory and came out victorious.
Jaya and Zoe
Hello for the last time! Annabel and Tristen here to go out with a bang. We started our day with not as crispy bacon and fried eggs with some French toast (and fruit of course). We got ready for our last day and we were out the door by 9:15. After an hour drive we arrived to Gri Gri Lagoon where we boarded a small wooden “boat” and motored out into the ocean. We took a quick stop in the lagoon and the headed to a cove where many of us got out to swim. We then boated to the beach where we would spend the rest of our day in the sun, at least we thought. After many fun hours of swimming, snorkeling, and tanning (not burning this time we all learned our lesson) we were interrupted by a small drizzle from a sun filled sky which later turned into a hectic down pour. We struggled to grab our stuff and run to the bus. We then had a very wet and sandy hour long bus ride back home.
When arriving home we all took our last cold shower (yay!) and filled out evaluations for our wonderful past 2 weeks. Since our hammocks were soaked we played cards until eating our last dinner together. After dinner, we had our capstone projects to present which we worked on every night with our mentors, pretty much a reflection on what we have learned. One group talked about the bathrooms we built and the other about our medical brigade. We had our final charla (another yay!) in which we learned how to stay connected to GLA and 7 elements (the company which partners with GLA). After that we had a very emotional time while writing each other good bye notes on our own sheets of paper to take home. As we sit here writing this, we are playing cards, listening to music and enjoying our final night together.
Some of us will be waking up tomorrow morning to see the beautiful Dominican sunrise before our departure from our home for the past 2 weeks. We are going to go cry now and spend some more quality time with the people we will miss so much. We are all very excited to come home and see you, parents! Also, we are all expecting a good welcome home meal of our favorites American chain restaurants (In and out, Panda Express, Chick fil A, Noodles and Company, Chipotle and many more. It is safe to say you will be eating out all week, not that I don¨t miss your cooking, mom). I guess this is our final blog post, we have had the most amazing time and hope you all have enjoyed coming along with us. You will hear so much more when we are home!
Saying goodbye for the final time, much love for everyone, Annabel and Tristen.