Wednesday June 27, 2018
Hello friends and families!
Today, almost all of us have arrived at the home base and have settled in. Some arrived early around one from the Puerto Plata airport, while others drove in two sticky hours from Santiago. We ate dinner around 6:00 and came together for the first time. After many excited greetings, we gathered for orientation and were given loads of information for the next two weeks of work and fun. We’re still waiting for a student who had problems with delayed flights, but she will be here soon! We are excited for her to arrive. We will also take our first group photo together, before heading to bed and getting rest for a long day of work ahead!
Over and out, Ellie x
Thursday June 28, 2018
Our last student Emily has finally arrived! She’s looking forward to getting stuck in and meeting her new team mates.
Friday June 29, 2018
We kicked off Day 3 with a lovely breakfast of fruit, cereal, some meat, and hot chocolate at 8 am. After breakfast, we went off to Cano Dulce, where we made concrete floors for a house. The house originally contained dirt floors, and with concrete floors, the family living in the house will not have to suffer through respiratory tract infections and other health problems.
Our group split up into three groups. Each group helped shovel dirt, cement, and water into a pile to create a mix for the other townspeople to spread throughout the house. While some people helped mixing cement, other people helped out in an assembly line to transfer the cement in buckets from the piles to the house.
After a delicious and filling lunch we went off to finish up the work we started. The whole time we were at the site today we had reggeaton and bachata music blasting through a little mercado’s many giant speakers. Once some of us got the courage to move to the music, even if we had no idea what we were doing, everyone was soon dancing in the streets of the beautiful village.
The locals took up dancing and teaching the other GLA kids here after Guillermo got down and taught the whole group to dance merengue. After having a genuine latino dance party experience of a life-time we were ready to finish up our work. Besides barbwire mishaps, and one of our own not feeling well it was a great experience. The highlight of the day today after finishing early was going to swim at the beach.
Maddy and I look forward to tomorrow and the rest of our trip here and are personally so grateful to everyone who is helping or has helped to get us here.
Sequoia y Maddy
Saturday June 30, 2018
Today’s day started earlier than expected because during the night a cow was mooing disruptively. While everyone was up early we all found ways to be productive. Some headed to the dinner pavilion before breakfast to conversate with the group B kids leaving an hour early and others went to the gym and ran around to get fit in the morning.
Breakfast was really good, with the French toast, eggs, and other various food items.
After a very good breakfast we all packed up our stuff to head to Cano Dulce, the same community we were building the cement in the previous day. However, Today we were building bottle bathrooms for a community member named Pote (which ironically means ‘bottle in Spanish) and his family of 5. These bottle bathrooms were a great step up from the current latrines (holes in the ground) and the bottles made insulation and humidity control easier which made it economically easier as well.
After the project leader, Cameron, showed us an example house the two groups split apart to work on two different houses in the community. We cut up wire mesh and laid out arrays of wire to hold the bottles before putting them in. Also, along with the bottle bathrooms, a giant hole (7 feet deep 6 feet across) needed to be built in order to store a giant sceptic tank that would make sewage easier. Suhas and Ian along with the help of local mentors Idelisa and Sydney spent much time digging this giant hole. Because there was only enough space for one person to pick at a time, we rotated around and we made a lot of progress while the bottle builders also got through a majority of Pote’s house.
Along the way we met many locals, however unlike yesterday most of them were kids. We met 5 year old Manuel who decided to watch our work yesterday as well as Pote’s family and the kids from the surrounding houses. They very often came in to the houses drawn by the music from our speaker and came and danced and played around with the shovels pretending to be working on the house along with us. Lunch was more of the same with Rice and Chicken served right at the work site for some of the people and after eating in the shade of the house we played around with the neighborhood kids because we had some time left before we began working. They played lots of practical jokes on us all in good fun like putting plants in our hair and one of them trapped a big bug in a bag and came to show us by releasing it on the work site. Interacting with the kids was very fun before we went back to the work of building the bathrooms.
After 2 more hours of working we had a great community tour led by the GLA community director Alex. She took us to see all the different past GLA projects including a basketball court and community center along with many houses including that of Manuel from before and his family. We also saw current projects including a Plantain field that was being put together by another GLA program to bring a sustainable food and cash crop source to the region. This project was different from anything we’ve seen because they were working like farmers away from the community and what they were doing was affecting the community in a different way directly pertaining to the food element of 7e. Seeing all these projects really opened our eyes to see how much a bunch of high school kids and locals with a drive to help out their community can affect a region. Everything seemed to be turned around and the community was better for it due to the help that 7e was putting into it.
After the tour we worked for thirty more minutes and during that time a local named Fredrico came to visit and see what we were doing with the giant hole in the ground that had suddenly appeared. Fredrico, whom we called Fred, was different from the other locals because he spoke semi-perfect English even though he was born and raised in the Dominican because he wanted to learn about other languages and cultures. The hole digging people spent time talking with him in both English and Spanish and he pointed to where he lived and it was nice to have a full on conversation with a local instead of using broken Spanish words. All these people helping out for other people’s houses really shows that even through all the hardships the best thing the people of Cano Dulce have is each other and their support.
Once we came back to homebase after a bus ride we figured out it was our pool day which was GREAT so we all immediately jumped in the pool. There in the pool we played lots of games and had lots of fun especially with Will who was playing jokes on all of us by swimming under everyone and popping up. We had team building exercises at 5:30 before dinner where Hilary got us to play snowball. We figured out more about each other and we had in my opinion the greatest meal of the trip so far with an array of Mexican food and the passionfruit juice again which is very good.
After that we tied more friendship bracelets, Caroline tied most of them, before we headed to lecture where Javier taught us about the different missions and elements of GLA’s parent organization 7e. We learned about how to help different communities and how all of these elements; political, personal, economic, community, environmental, food, health; As night fell we played more cards as the cows had a giant rage fest and we called it a day.
Sunday July 1, 2018
What’s poppin’ parents! Its Lakelyn Keverline and Nathan Lee coming at you with another blog post for day five. Hmm… what did we do today? Well, first off, today we went on our first excursion to Yasica River, one of the largest rivers in the Dominican Republic. Before heading on the boats, we visited a zoo and had the opportunity to see and hold some exotic animals, including a snake and an iguana. We also got to see a rhinoceros iguana, which is an endangered species.
After our time concluded at the zoo, we hopped on a couple boats that took us on the Yasica River to the ocean. We spent time chilling at a land bar, which separates the river and the ocean, swimming past knee depth in the river but unfortunately only being able to take artsy pictures at ankle depth in the ocean. (For all of those who are unaware, we are not allowed past knee depth in the ocean which promoted the joke in the previous sentence.)
Seconds; minutes; hours past until lunch time finally commenced. We walked down the beach to a small shack that nourished us with pina coladas, macaroni, and fried chicken. We were surprised when the pina coladas were presented in pineapples and coconuts!
Lunch time concluded and we were free to swim once again. More artsy pictures were taken and GoPro’s were busted out to record some nice underwater videos. Also Samee (AKA. Samantha Katerina Poblete Lopez) broke her GoPro case which was quite unfortunate. Finally, it was time to leave the beach. We boarded the boats and headed back to the zoo area where we boarded the bus and headed back to home base.
After a dinner of classic chicken and rice, we headed to listened to a lecture and headed into mentor groups where we found out the news. LEBRON IS GOING TO THE LAKERS!!!!! This took a lot of people by surprise. That was our day. Hope y’all had a great day as well!
Nathan Lee and Lakelyn Keverline
Monday July 2, 2018
Greetings from Dominican Republic! Today we all revisited Cano Dulce to continue working on our bottle houses. Suhas continued digging a hole for a septic tank while others continued to add wire and mesh to place bottles in the walls for the making of a bottle house for a family of five. At the other site, the others began their own hole for the septic tank and enjoyed fresh coconuts from a friendly local. Lunch once again consisted of rice, chicken, beans, eggplants, lettuce, pineapples and mangoes. After lunch, we began our work again and nearly finished the bottle bathrooms. One group began to mix cement and put it over the bottles on the walls for insulation which decreases the house temperature by 12 degrees.
After our time at the work site, the group traveled to a local supermarket where many of the kids purchased local snacks. Nathan introduced us to an Aloe drink that captivated the minds of many us. Nathan downed the bottle in less than four minutes while the rest of us stared in awe. By the way, Lebron moved to the Lakers. We then boarded the bus with our tasty snacks, cool drinks, freshly exchanged money and proceeded to take a trip to the beach. While some of us dipped our ankles in water and played soccer with a coconut, others performed interesting gymnastics maneuvers that astonished the mentors. It was pretty cool.. What an interesting day!
Paella, white rice, plantains, broccoli, black beans, and passion fruit juice made up our tasty dinner. We truly got a taste of real Dominican food! During our lecture tonight, we learned about environmental security throughout the world as well as how the third world countries are exploited for their resources. We also learned about climate change and environmental degradation. Learning about all these new topics opened our eyes to different issues and how they not only affect first world countries, but also third world countries and our future generations. We realized that we can all make a difference in the world, no matter how small.
After our lecture, we all sat in the lodge and made friendship bracelets; a perfect end to a perfect day! <3
From yours truly,
William and Cara
Tuesday July 3, 2018
For group GHI-A on day 7 we visited our first public clinic. Before leaving, we watched a presentation on how to behave professionally in a clinical work environment, and how the medical system works in the Dominican Republic. Then, in small groups the local doctor gave a tour of their facility, and briefly explained how local, level one clinics work. We returned to the lodge to simulate what we would be doing in clinics tomorrow using our mentors as patients. Later, Dr. Pena, the local doctor who runs the clinic, further prepared us on taking vitals. We learned how to take height, weight, blood pressure, pulse and temperature as well as how to interview patients, distribute medicine and check patients into the hospital.
After dinner, we all headed down to the beach to watch the sunset. Shortly after, our mentor, Averi, showed us a video and lead a discussion on how charities can have a negative impact on the people they are meant to benefit. Such as the shoe company, TOMS, running local shoe makers out of buisness.
Finally, to end the day, our mentor, Guillermo, and local director, Idelisa, taught us some Dominican dance moves. We learned the Batchada, the Merangue and watched some of our peers make up some moves of their own.
Carlin and Audrey
Wednesday July 4, 2018
Ready for an exciting day, we left the lodge early so we could begin the long bus ride to La Grua, a Haitian batey. After some napping on the bus, we arrived at La Grua and began setting up our stations so we could begin seeing community members in need of medical assistance. The first station was registration, in which we signed in patients before sending them to be interviewed. People at the interview station practiced their Spanish skills as they asked the patients about their medical history and reason for coming to the clinic.
After being interved, patients went to get their vitals checked. We were able to take blood pressure, temperature, height, and weight of members of the Haitian batey. After vitals, patients were sent back to see the doctor. We were able to observe the consultations the doctor had with the patients. At the pharmacy station, we were able to distribute prescriptions to the patients. Some of us were also recording information into a computer.
After a rewarding day of work, we had a quick tour of the community and got to play with some of the Haitian children who were running around. We took a trip to the supermarket which had A/CJ. We got back to the lodge and jumped into the pool to cool off. We finally had some good-old fashion American food which was mac-n-cheese and we were all excited. The group had a lecture about happiness and then hoped back in the pool for our round two Fourth of July celebration. And then we all went to the beach for a bonfire and sang some American tunes and we introduced s’mores to a few locals and counselors as well. THE END
-Jordan and Lizzie
Thursday July 5, 2018
Today was our second of three excursion days here at this trip and we went to the ever great DuDu Lagoon, the same place the group B kids went for their first excursion day. The day began with roosters and livestock going insane over who knows what but at this point we are used to the livestock cutting our sleep short. Some of the students and mentors went with the usual mentoring routine of weightlifting in the morning but today we were joined by mentor Javier and our new friend Junior who was a translator at the brigade. Once we all regrouped for breakfast at 8am we ate French toast which was pretty good. Breakfast is usually good most people can agree on that and we all changed into bathing suits for a day full of swimming and adventure.
After an hour long ride to the Lagoon past a tourist city with the bus driver playing some Spanish-reggae music we made it to the secluded lagoon where we got our tickets. Then we immediately rushed to the restaurant to get free wifi because some of us don’t have data plans and it was our first internet in a week which high school kids usually can’t go a day without. I think that after this trip we will use the internet a lot less because we have been having a great time without it and we have learned social skills we wouldn’t have otherwise learned if we were on our phones.
The zipline jumping was something else. There was a giant drop into a very deep crystal blue pool with a zipline with no harness going across it. Then we went to a sonotee (cave overhang with water in it) where we tried to see who was brave enough to go to the very end. Nathan was the first to make it there but many had to turn back because the water was deep and they weren’t able to tread that long. Then people tried jumping into the Sonotee and that was fun. In the morning Hilary said she had a surprise for us and after lunch and some volleyball (chicken and rice of course) she took us to Playa Presiosa which was a secluded beach with a great setting. At that beach we also ran into all the staff selling some Dominican jewelry along with hair braiders. A lot of the girls (and some guys) got their hair braided for very cheap and we enjoyed the beach.
We came home very late an after many showers we ate dinner which was some fried chicken and fries which was almost as good as Chick Fil-A from back home. Then after a small break we had a lecture with Micalea (Makayla? Micaleaka?) about ethics and medicinal ethical situations with mock situations (what would you dos) and quote analysis. Then we went into mentor groups like usual to work on our capstones and went to bed. Also Athena says “hi mom”.
Sunday July 8, 2018
Parents and friends!!!!!
We have had an adventurous, awesome, and adequately proportionate 11th day here in the Dominican Republic. Its Emily Marquis and Caroline Burkhard coming at y’all (#texas) live from our nightly studies and discussions.
Today, we brightly woke up to a fresh day of vitamin distribution. We drove over to Cano Dulce to help out kiddos and some pregnant mothers!! We worked sufficiently and efficiently to finish off our clinic at around 1:00pm.
It doesn’t stop there! We strolled along a palm tree forest, a picture straight out of Where the Wild Things Are, to discover a land of colorful pieces of…. Trash. We had to fix the situation in a fun way by… making super duper uber amazing mosaics. Splitting into three groups, one group made a smiley face, the other an outline of a person, and lastly a swinging palm tree. For dinner we had… you will never guess it… RICE AND BEANS WITH CHICKEN.
We ended a wonderful day with a powerful speech over our worlds struggle with equality of religion, ethnity, age, gender, race, nationality, social class, sexual orientation, and physical ability. Our hearts were touched by the stories the speaker Sarah told. Lastly, we divided to discuss with Hilary and began to practice for the Sunday Night GHI Group A Talent Show. Thank you and GOODNIGHT America and other places your family might be from! Peace!!!!
-Emily and Caroline
Good evening families!!
This morning our breakfast consisted of pancakes, ham, oatmeal, pineapple, watermelon, papayas, and hot chocolate. Cara´s pancakes were sadly stolen from her plate from the rest of the hungry GLA students.
We left for Caño Dulce at 9am for our last work day. We spent the day cementing and finishing up the remainder of the bottle bathrooms. A local girl even helped us with the cement to get the job done faster. The most interesting part of the day was the journey to get water for mixing the cement. It consisted of crawling under a fence and walking down to a local stream with large buckets, and having to carry them back full of water.
Lunch was in a locals house and consisted of the usual rice, beans, salad, and fruit. Afterwards a bunch of us went on a soda run to a local store and then we went back to working on the same tasks from the morning.
At around 3pm, we were finished with our work early and hopped on the bus to get some ice cream. To spend our free time, we went to the beach. Dinner was taco night which consisted of tortilla chips, chicken, rice, beans, lettuce, cheese, and salsa. The lecture tonight was an interesting talk on different types of leadership, and we experimented with our leadership qualities. After, we had a talent show to help close up our trip with many funny and entertaining acts. It had Suhas´ jokes, Madi´s vines, a group of girls dancing, and many more.
-by Bella and Jenna aka the Leaders of the Day