Saturday July 21, 2018
Lots of students have been up since 5am. We had students flying from west to east coast to be all together at once…finally! It always feels right once the whole group is together. Some students flew in and made it to the lodge early. We did some swim tests, walked on the beach and played Spoons. Students that were around for lecture time were able to sit in on a discussion about their leadership style which is a great way to get the program started.
We were excited for Sydney, Sami and Acadia to arrive from the long drive from Santiago. Their high spirits and energy levels were unbelievable but I think it was the adrenaline and excitement kicking in from finally making it to home base. We had some dinner saved for them while the other students that arrived earlier sat around to get to know each other. Tomorrow I look forward to giving the students a morning orientation that will also lead them into a surf lesson and baseball game with the locals.
It was a successful day and I am so excited for what this experience will bring to these students in just two weeks. My favorite word in the Spanish language is vivencia which is an unique and self-defining experience whose import is wholly shaped by the time and place where it occurs. It is much more than an experience that no one else can live or understand; the specific vivencia builds on to the individual’s character and molds them anew.
I think the most profound vivencias are the ones that are abroad. And I am more than thrilled to share my passion for international education with students that are ready to see the world from another perspective. We will surf, we will play sports, we will eat chicken and rice, we will spend time on the beach, we will serve, and we will share our vivencias. Join us for daily updates written by the leaders of the day.
Sending peace and light from the Caribbean!
– JoLyn (GLA International Director)
Sunday July 22, 2018
Oscar, first leader of the day here. There is a dog named Oscar at the lodge, so we got a picture together! We started the day with freshly prepared pancakes, eggs. and fruit. We then after jumped into orientation and learned about our surrounding area. Soon after that we received our first surf lessons from our instructor Pedro, a local surf teacher from Venezuela. He teaches year-round a surf school along the coast. We surfed until it was time for lunch.
After our lunch we met up with some of the local people for a game of Baseball. That later led into a dance session and we all learned the Bachata and created new friendships. We look forward to what is in store the next couple of days.
Monday July 23, 2018
Today was another wonderful day full of learning and fun! Last night we had our first lecture about the 7 elements of human security. We also learned about the history of bateys to prepare us for our first day at the service site. We woke up (on time woohoo!!) to a yummy breakfast of toast, eggs, bacon, coco-puffs, and fresh fruits. After we finished our meal, we got ready for the day and climbed in the van for a ride to La Grua, where we are building a basketball court from scratch. When we arrived we had to lay out string and measure the space. With the help of the locals, we completed the first step of digging a base for the court. When our work for the day was done, we went to a very nice (and air-conditioned!) supermarket to get snacks. Now we are getting ready to head to the beach before dinner and our nightly lecture!
-Acadia, Leader of the Day:)
Tuesday July 24, 2018
This is Havi, the leader of the day for day four. Today was such an awesome, yet tiring day for the group (now known as the Elite 8). We had our second work day today and I am able to say with full confidence that our group is putting our all into our project. We mixed cement, which to our surprise does not consist of stirring it cleanly in a bucket, rather of mixing it in a giant pile of dirt with pick axes and shovels. It was super draining and we are all in need of massages but are all super proud of our job and excited to continue it on Sunday! We made our workday fly by with our acapella singing of “Let’s Get Down to Business” from the Mulan movie, which apparently gave Beau a headache! OOPS!! Throughout the work day we were able to play basketball and soccer with the kids, give piggyback rides to them, and Martin even helped a local woman read a book in English!
We were all able to create great bonds with the local kids and were sad to leave them at the end of the day, despite our tiredness. On our way home from the work site we stopped to watch some kite-surfing which made us so excited to start our kite-surfing lessons tomorrow! We arrived home (the lodge is now referred to as that- sorry parents!) and ate a great dinner and had an inspiring activity about poverty led by JoLyn (Jo). We finished the night with our ritual of going over our rose/thorn activity where we each say what was our “rose” or highlight and our “thorn” downer for the day; the rose comes easily for all of us, while the thorn is much harder to come up with! Muy bien! Overall, today was amazing and we are all so excited to continue our daily adventures with the Elite 8. As Loubens, our local director, would say, “I LOVE MY TEAM!!”
Wednesday July 25 and Thursday July 26, 2018
Sami: Bienvenidos a nuestro programa de entrevistas!
Sydney: Welcome to our talk show!
Sami: Today we will be reviewing our past 2 days here in the DR!
Sydney: We started off day 5 strong with surf lessons from the one and only, Pedro!
Sami: Our lessons began with Pedro’s one minute meditation – very relaxing:)
Sydney: Although we most definitely did not succeed the first, second, or third time, we all had so much fun and made so much surfing progress! Some would even refer to this experience as “educational and thrilling” quoted by the brilliant Beau
Sami: We then embarked on our journey back to the lodge (a hard .01 mile walk) and enjoyed a classic Dominican lunch including rice, chicken, salad, veggies, and fruit (duh).
Sydney: Jo then forced us all onto a large white van and told us she had a “surprise” in store for us.
Sami: But don’t worry! It was just an ice cream run, where we all (minus Sydney’s lactose free stomach) enjoyed some refreshing ice cream!
Sydney: After our ice cream adventure, we headed over to the beach for our first kite surfing lesson!
Sami: iT wAs So EaSy … psych! We definitely struggled, even flying our kite into locals on the beach… oops.
Sydney: “Ouch” said a local on beach; “only room for improvement” promised the instructor
Sami: After kitesurfing we chilled by the pool, reading, tanning, and swimming and then ate another healthy dinner.
Sydney: “Let’s go have a dance party on the beach” proposed Loubens … and so we did.
Sami: Picture this: 10 people on the beach, an almost full moon, jamming to music and listening to the waves.
Sydney: Next we got our necessary 10 hours of sleep (no joke, we’re ready for bed at 9:30).
Sami: Annnd now we’re at day 6! We began the day with the famous one minute ~eyes closed~ meditation and surfing.
Sydney: Lunch and then we were off to play basketball with locals at Cano Dulce.
Sami: We played hard… especially Oscar and Martin.
Sydney: “I am sweating a lot”, said Oscar as he wrung out the sweat from his shirt; “I prefer baseball” chimed in Martin
Sami: And that wraps up our day thus far.
Sydney: Signing off.
Sami: I’m Sami.
Sydney: I’m Sydney.
Sami and Sydney: See you next week!
Friday July 27, 2018
Today(Friday) we woke up at 6:45 for a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, bread, cereal, and fruit at 7:00 AM. At 8:00 AM we got in the bus to head to Mount Brison. After the early morning bus ride we finally arrived. As we started our hike up the trail we stopped at a few places. First, we stopped at a house with chickens, and trees with fruit on them. We learned that the key to survival in some places is to be self sufficient. The next stop we made was to the first – fifth grade school along the trail. The school only has two rooms for five grades. We also learned that the Dominican is lowly rated on education in Latin America which led us to talk about the why. The next stop we took was at a woman’s house where she sold homemade bread, bracelets, and rugs. She also had some interesting fruit called limoncillos.
After a long hike up we got to our destination. Once we arrived, Maxima had food prepared for us to eat. Our delicious lunch consisted of chicken, rice, beans, fruit, and salad. The food tasted so much better knowing that we worked hard for it. As we were eating we learned about the cock fighting that is common in the Dominican Republic. This came up because of the man at the house where we ate lunch was training a chicken for fighting. We thought that the man was going to kill the chicken but luckily he did not.
After lunch we walked down the trail for around an hour. We finally got to the bottom of the trail and felt very tired as we had our bus ride back to the lodge. The day was filled with ups and downs but it felt very rewarding.
Saturday July 28, 2018
It’s Alexa, leader of the day, here to give you guys a brief overview of day eight. We started our day with an early breakfast, and were then greeted by our surfing instructor, Pedro, who we all love. We headed down to the beach where we began our lesson with the traditional one minute meditation. Starting our morning like this is always super rejuvenating and relaxing! We surfed, swam and even went looking for shells. After surfing we headed back to the lodge where we ate lunch and had some down time before heading out for another planned activity.
We then made the trip to the well-anticipated Dudu Lagoon. I know many of our expectations were definitely exceeded. There were two lagoons, one with a zip line and 35 foot drop (don’t worry! We were all fine!), and one for swimming and hanging out. All members of the Elite Eight were brave, and took those daunting steps off the ledge and made the drop into the lagoon. It didn’t come as a surprise that it definitely was not the most comfortable experience, and many were not feeling a second round (Yikes)! We then moved on and enjoyed the second lagoon which was full of beautiful clear blue water. Everyone had so much fun jumping into the water and swimming in the lagoon. It was for sure an experience that we will all remember. The place even had a beach volleyball court which we took full advantage of (how could we not, we’re the sports group)! The game was full of lots of laughs, missed balls and serves, and both teams were even joined by other people visiting the lagoon. It got pretty intense, and it was surely one of the highlights of the trip so far. All and all, today was so much fun, and I know we are all looking forward to the adventures that are to come in the next few days! That’s it for now, adios.
Sunday July 29, 2018
Martin here as your last solo leader of the day. After today, we will double up with leader of the days to finish the program! After an intriguing lecture last night where our local directer, Loubens, taught us about Haitian and Dominican relationships. It was really interesting to learn about the history of the island and Louben’s experience as a Haitian in the Dominican Republic. This led us to a discussion where we learned that the last sports group started a go-fund me page to support Loubens in his education to be a nurse. This started a conversation about being the change. If you would like to donate to Loubens’ education, please contribute at the following link: https://www.gofundme.com/loubens-sine
We woke to find ourselves in the van once again for our third trip down to La Grua. While at La Grua we finally got to use a cement mixer which sped up the process of making the cement drastically. Since the locals had filled up much of the space already we could start by just flattening the ground out. Once the ground was mostly flat we could start the painful (just kidding) process of shoveling the cement into the wheelbarrow and emptying the wheelbarrow onto what will become the basketball court. This process left us all looking like we had stood underneath one of the humongous buckets of water at a water park that unexpectedly dumps on you…. only to find out it was filled with cement and splattered all over us. After that wonderful news, now seems like a good time to tell you that it is Beau’s 16th birthday which means wee all get cake later so, yay! Well it’s about time for dinner so I better wrap it up (no pun intended).
Tuesday July 31, 2018
This is Sydney and Havi, the leaders of the day on day 11. Three more days until we see you all! Craziness! We are having a great time here, but are all excited to see our padres soon (but will be so sad to leave each other, as well as JoLyn and Loubens). Today was a pretty chill day, which was much needed after these busy two weeks. We had our last surf day with our instructor Pedro. Then, we had lunch with just our group, which is our preference for sure! Elite 8 > everyone else! Then, we had a baseball game with the locals which we all enjoyed.
We got to witness one of our Dominican friends, Alex, that we met last week at the baseball game climb up a tree and throw us down coconuts! Then, we came back to the lodge and had some free-time before dinner. After dinner, we had a fun debate about mega sporting events followed by a few games of Mafia on the beach! We stayed on the beach until the sun set and then took the short walk home in the moonlight. I bet you all are jealous now! Overall, today was a great day and we are sad to realize that there are only two more days of adventure left in the Domincan! Talk tomorrow padres!
This morning we woke up to a tasty breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and fresh fruit. After we ate, we piled into the van to head to the beach to snorkel. Once we arrived we grabbed our snorkeling equipment and went to the beach where a boat was waiting to take us to a reef. We strapped on our gear and jumped into the crystal clear water. We saw lots of colorful fish. After snorkeling for a little while we took off our snorkels, and life jackets and free dove. The water was nice and refreshing. After being in the water for about an hour we hopped back into the boat and went back to the beach for pizza.
The pizza took a while to get to the beach, so we decided to look around, and shopped. Many of us had to bargain the prices down because they jack up the prices for tourists. For example, a store owner asked for me (Beau) to pay ten dollars for a small wooden turtle but I ended up getting it for five dollars. When it was finally time for lunch, we all enjoyed our pizza and the pretty view of the beach with a mountain in the distance.After lunch, a lot of us had our hair pulled and yanked by a couple sweet dominican women to get cornrows. We then ran through the burning hot sand and into the cool water. What an amazing way to end our trip! Tonight will be filled with activities, packing and lots of goodbyes but Elite 8 will stay strong 🙂
See you all soon,
Beau and Acadia