3.12.2016 (Updated 3.13.2016)
Welcome to our program blog for our Spring Break Service Adventure program in the Dominican Republic. We’ll be updating the blog occasionally when we receive new info from staff in-country.
We just wanted to let you know that as of Sunday, all students have arrived safely in the DR with staff and are accounted for.
We hope to have more updates to share with you soon!
Dear Family and Friends,
Apologies for the delay in our first blog post. The internet at the Home Base went out for a few days, but it should be up and running shortly.
All of the students arrived safe and sound on March 12th, and Jaden who arrived later that night integrated with the rest of the group quickly the next morning. We jumped right into our service projects at a community called Polanco, and did some work on a home using plastic bottles in the foundation. The students tore into the activity with excitement and got a tremendous amount done over 5 hours. Within 3 hours it you would have thought the group had known each other for years, smiles, laughter, and teamwork abound!
The picture below inside of the bus is the students before they departed for the Haitian community of La Grua today, where they will be putting the finishing touches on a community center that was started by the spring break group before this one. At night we have been doing discussions about Leadership and the different elements of human security and how it affects us all. A blog post from the leaders of the day will be uploaded shortly, along with more pictures.
Carly Sullivan (HQ Staff member observing the Spring Break program)
After having a delicious breakfast of fresh toast, we all left the Home Base for our first project together.
We took a 15 minute ride down to one of the local villages, Polanco. We helped establish the first bottle house in the Dominican Republic for 7 Elements organization (GLA’s local partner) for a woman, named Maria, who has three children. Some of the jobs we did were:
- cement mixing and applying
- cutting and nailing chicken wire
- filling in the walls with water plastic bottles
- nailing chicken wire
- digging a space for a latrine
Afterwards, we enjoyed an authentic Dominican lunch made by a local woman down the road.
After working, we went back home for beach and pool time! After a long day of activities, we had a nice dinner and introduction to our human security and leadership lessons. After getting to know one another and our leaders a bit more, we went to sleep and got ready for a new day!
⇒ Interested in learning what your teen can contribute to the world after GLA? Check out what one of our alumni did to make a difference here. She was even featured on USA Today online!
-Written by: Toma, Lucas, Kayla, and Peyton (our leaders of the day)
This morning, we departed to Dudu at nine o’ clock. After an hour drive, we arrived at Dudu and explained all the rules and expectations. Groups of students participated in a variety of excursions, which included ostrich viewing, swimming, zip-lining, cliff jumping, and cave exploration.
After a couple hours enjoying the various activities, we went to lunch, where we had great food (and some of us even enjoyed some ice cream).
After lunch, we went to our activities for the day. At around 3:30, we left Dudu and came back to the Home Base. Some of us went to the beach while others hung out around the pool , soaking up the sun. This was a great way to cap off the day, as we all had the chance to interact and bond as a group. Overall, it was a great day!
Two updates today!
Lunch at cano dulce community, building bee boxes with a local organization.
More from our Service Learning Adventure™ in the Dominican Republic
Today marks our official “going over the hump,” adjusting to the routines at the DR! But of course, that doesn’t go without saying how much we love our breakfasts in the mornings (especially the hot chocolate).
After breakfast, we headed to a town called La Grua, which was located 2 hours away from home base among rolling hills and mountains. It was interesting to watch forests of green alternating with tourist resorts and houses of local Dominicans.
La Grua is separated into two parts: a Dominican settlement located at the top of the hill and a batey at the bottom of the hill. A batey is a small settlement where Haitian sugar planters live; however, since demand for sugar cane has decreased, Haitian sugar planters have lost their jobs and live in poverty. The location of these settlements in La Grua highlight the disparity between Dominicans and Haitians. Between the two settlements, we helped lay the floor of a community building to be shared by the communities and bridge the disconnect.
Our group began the rather tedious, but rewarding, task of mixing cement for the flooring while some toured the school in the Dominican settlement and painted its doors. We were able to interact with the children, playing soccer and chatting with them in Spanish. After a great lunch prepared by a local family, we headed down the hill to the batey, which looked drastically different from the Dominican settlement.
The signs of poverty was dramatically evident in the community from the housing and lack of nearby access to services such as clinics and schools (the one in La Grua is located in the Dominican side). Here, we were able to interact with the community through a game of soccer and learn firsthand about systemic poverty.
Waking up to the smell of pancakes reminded us of home this morning. After breakfast, we headed out to the bee farm.
After taking a tour of the apiary, we split into groups to build and paint bee boxes. Others built vertical gardens out of pallets and played basketball with people from Cano Dulce.
We returned to home for a dance class, taught by Hansel. To finish the day we had a delicious meal, that included a crowd favorite, mango.
To start the day off, our group ate omelets, dry cereal, and seasonal fruit. After driving an hour and forty-five minutes from the compound, we arrived at the base of a mountain. A grueling two hour hike led us to a secluded community by the name of Brisón. The group enjoyed pasta, rice, and Dominican ice cream in the shade.
Stomachs full, we began the hike back down. Halfway through our descent, we stopped to plant bell pepper seeds in a garden; Dave told us that each seed we planted would yield the U.S. equivalent of twenty-five cents! On the car ride back, everyone enjoyed a nap and the cool breeze. Back at home base, we ate dinner and had our nightly Human Security and Leadership lectures.
To end the day, the group jumped in the pool just before jumping into the bed, with tired calves and rewarded hearts.
Bike to Brison
All students from the 3.12.2016 program have departed. Thanks to all the students for their incredible participation in the Spring Break program, and to all the family members who supported them!
Check out other stories about teen travel and volunteering on The Young Leader by clicking here.