Thursday July 5, 2018
Flying from the states and internationally, we finally made it! There were 8 students that flew in from Puerto Plata and the 3 more in Santiago. I went to the Puerto Plata airport with my Local Director, Loubens to greet the students. When we got to the lodge in the afternoon, the group of 8 took a two minute walk from the lodge to the beach. We tossed around the volleyball, dipped our feet in the waves, and took our first beach photo. Unfortunately, it’s not complete without Chloe and Emily who will get here tomorrow and Lewis, Shane, and Sam that arrived to the lodge later this evening. We look forward to reuniting as a whole team tomorrow with many more group beach photos to come. The students were sleepy from a long day of travel although we will be ready to surf and play some baseball tomorrow.
I am 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 co-written by the leaders of the day.
Sending positive vibes from the caribbean!!
A la orden,
Friday July 6, 2018
It’s Abi and Nick, the leaders of the day. Today we woke up and ate a delicious breakfast of bread, eggs, bacon, sausage and fresh fruit. We spent the morning with our surf instructor Sarah, who taught us how to balance and get up on a surf board. After 3 hours of attempting this, with few successes, we were very hungry and came back to the base for lunch. After fueling up we went to a local park to play baseball, soccer, volleyball. Everyone had a blast collaborating with each other and navigating through the language barrier while playing sports. In the afternoon, we welcomed Emily and Chloe! We will be taking a group photo with them tomorrow. Tonight we are going to learn about the 7 elements of human security and tomorrow we will start our service project.
Abi and Nick
Saturday July 7, 2018
Today was our first day of service at La Grua. Our project is to build a baseball field for the community. Although it was extremely hot, we were able to make an outline of the field which will make our jobs much easier for later in the week. A highlight was definitely playing soccer with the local children during our breaks. On the way back we stopped at a grocery store with air conditioning and got some snacks for our rooms. We look forward to being able to finish this project and make a difference in the community.
Olivia & Alex
Sunday July 8, 2018
Today we continued our service project in La Grua and had a similar day to yesterday. We woke up to a breakfast of toast, bacon, eggs, and fruit, and then left to continue our construction of the baseball field! After a few hours of work on the field, we took a short drive to eat a lunch of chicken, mashed potatoes, and fruit. After lunch, we returned to the site and took a tour of the small Haitian community of La Grua. We were able to interact with many locals, and some children even followed us back to the field to help us work. After working a bit longer, we decided to take a break and play soccer with some of the children.
After saying goodbye, we hopped back on the bus and went swimming in the pool at the lodge. We are looking forward to a lecture about poverty tonight, as well as a dinner of tacos. Last night, instead of our usual lecture, we had a debate about megasporting events and their impacts on the economy. We then further debated questions posed to us by our “Leaders of the day”. We are excited to go surfing tomorrow and continue learning more about the Dominican Republic.
Amanda and Blake
Monday July 9, 2018
Today was our 5th day in the Dominican Republic. We went surfing for the second time, but the waves were much bigger than last time which made it more challenging. Also we learned how to kite surf. We didn’t do it in the water yet because we had to learn the basics of controlling the kite first. After we went to a field and played kickball and cards until it was time to go back to the lodge. Overall today was a fun but tiring day.
-By Emily and Louis
Tuesday July 10, 2018
It’s Day 6 here and we got the chance to go surfing in the morning. Unfortunately it rained the night before which caused the waves to be a bit larger, so we stayed closer to shore. But surfing went great and was really fun for everyone. Then we had extra time so as a group, we all watched a surfing documentary that was very interesting. It was about how veterans that come back from the war learn how to surf and use it as natural medicine to cope with PTSD. We had a discussion about how sports can be used as an outlet to build a sense of community, connection and purpose. We had a great lunch and then went to a nearby community to play basketball and volleyball with the locals. All the kids we met had so much fun and it made us happy to see them! We are excited for the rest of the days to come!
-Chloe and Garrett
Wednesday July 11, 2018
Today we woke up early to hike Mount Brison. The hike was four miles long and had difficult terrain but the view and food at the top made it worth it. On the way up we made several stops, including one where we bought homemade bread and jewelry. Another stop was the school, where many students made the same hike we did to attend it.
We also met a local woman named Maxima, who has lived there her whole life. She told us about her daily life on Mount Brison and we got a group picture with her. The rest of the day was relaxing and we made a much appreciated stop at a store. Tonight we will watch a short documentary about the history of Dominican and Haitian relations followed by discussion with Loubens, our local director that is from Haiti.
– Sam and Mia
Thursday July 12, 2018
Last night we had our daily lecture, this one was very important because we discussed Haitian and Dominican relations. We learned a lot about the history of discrimination against Haitians and problems they face today in the D.R. Today we woke up early for laundry day and then went out on the water to surf. After a while of swimming and surfing, we came back to eat lunch and then boarded the bus preparing for an hour ride to Dudu Lagoon. At Dudu we played beach volleyball, zip lined over a clear-water lagoon. We swam for some time and then headed back to the lodge for free time before dinner and another nightly lecture.
-by Shane and Abi
Friday July 13, 2018
It´s day 9 here in the Dominican and we had a service day today. We got so much work done because we all worked very hard and together as a group. We completed the lanes of the baseball field by filling them with the sand that will be used for the community to run on. Due to our hard work, we got ice cream from a local ice cream shop called Bon´s. The ice cream was very good and refreshing for all of us, since we had a long day of hard work. We are so excited to go to 27 charcos tomorrow for a fun day.
-by Chloe and Nicolas
Saturday July 14, 2018
Last night we had a lecture about Social Justice and it was really interesting. We learned about wage gaps and inequality between genders and races that exists in countries all around the world. The lecture left us thinking about how we have no idea what someone else is going through until we are willing to listen and learn about their perspective.
Today, we went to 27 charcos which is about a 2 hour drive away from the lodge. At 27 charcos we were able to jump or slide down 10 to 15 waterfalls. Although the water was cold we still had a blast! After completing the amount of waterfalls included with the tour we then went to a restaurant to eat lunch. The lunch was buffet style with choices of different kinds of rices and chicken. After the yummy lunch we headed back on the van and concluded the day with free time and dinner.
-Alex and Amanda
Sunday July 15, 2018
Today we woke up to an amazing breakfast of pancakes, fruit, fried cheese, granola, and cereal. After finishing up breakfast, we went surfing with our instructor Sarah. It was our last day with her and we really enjoyed having her as our teacher! After surfing, we ate a lunch of fish, rice, and potato salad. With help from JoLyn, we were able to stream the world cup on a laptop, and Louis who is from France, was thrilled that France won the final. After watching the world cup, we had our second kitesurfing lesson on the beach.
Over the course of the past few days, Blake and Alex have been working on a GoFundMe campaign for our local director Loubens. Loubens has had an extremely positive impact on all members of GLA summer programs. During our lecture about Haitian and Dominican history, he explained some of his struggles as a Haitian in the Dominican Republic. He also explained his aspirations of becoming a nurse, finishing his college education, and working in the Dominican Republic in future years. Funds raised on this page will go towards paying for his Dominican visa and education in the coming years. Feel free to donate using the link below:
-Blake and Mia
Monday July 16, 2018
Today was our last day of service in La Grua. We finally finished our baseball field and we were able to play on it with local kids. We were done early and cleaned the area to make the field look nicer. On our way back from service, we stopped at one of the most famous kite surfing beaches in the world and watched kite surfers in the ocean. It was interesting to watch as we were never able to get into the water during our lessons. It is difficult to learn how to control the kite on land and takes a lot of time and practice to get in the water to do it. We can’t believe that tomorrow is our last full day together! As our time comes to end, we look forward to sharing with you all our incredible experience in person.
Olivia & Louis
Our last day, we went to Rio San Juan to swim and snorkel. We also explored a small cave and had lunch at the beach. It was raining on and off during our time there. We also drank some virgin piña coladas and some of us got our hair braided. It was a good last day to relax and spend time together. We are happy to go home tomorrow but we will miss each other and the adventures we have had! Thanks for following us through our time here in the last two weeks. We have enjoyed sharing our experiences together and we are excited to share more in person our unforgettable memories.
-by Emily and Sam