We just wanted to let you know that all students have successfully departed from the program. We want to thank all of the students for their participation on the program, and all of their families and friends who have been following along on their journey.
Walking through town to Doña Maria’s house was something extraordinary, in the more literal sense of the word; that is to say, it was a relatively new experience.
Seeing the disparities between the different people in such a small area was eye opening, one house having been more developed and the house next door being a hodgepodge of materials thrown together to form a shelter. But, for the people living in those houses, this is normal, necessary to their lives. So, being able to help in the provision of a more permanent, safe, and comfortable environment was incredible.
We worked in teams on the walls of the house, made of bottles and concrete, steps to the house, and a latrine in the backyard for a more sanitary environment. Wanting to make the day as productive as possible we split our group into 4 sections. We knew this would be the best way to create a happy and productive environment for the students. Though the day was hot and the work was hard everyone involved with the bottle house worked productively.
Meanwhile, another group explored the community of Caño Dulce where the honey and other products of bees are one of the main economic sources for the people. We spent the day building and painting boxes necessary for the beekeeping, and building structures for vertical gardens.
Not only was it a day spent working hard but was also full of amazing experiences getting to know the children of the community and teaching them new games. The entire day was meaningful in all aspects and was truly a great opportunity for growth.
Today was a fun mix of a relaxing day and a work day.
Our main event of the day was hiking up a mountain and helping plant crops for reforestation. We started the day by hiking up a mountain in two groups. We had a fun mix of people who were practically experts in hiking as well as some first-timers. Either way, both groups were able to socialize, play around, and exercise while having fun.
The purpose of this time was to experience and appreciate the trek most Dominicans have to go through multiple times a week, or in some extreme cases, even in a day. Through this whole experience we stopped at small houses or villages and learned about their culture and the way they where able to function in society. We also learned about how they had an impact on the environment around them.
After this we went to our volunteer portion of the time, helping plant seeds for reforestation. We’ve come to learn that deforestation is a huge issue in the Dominican Republic, and around the world, and learning about this and methods for prevention was a phenomenal experience for us.
When we finished the hike and the planting, we were able to cool off, even having a chance to go to the beach or pool to cool down. Then, we listened to a speech on environmental security and worked on solving relevant problems in the Dominican.
In total, today was a fun mix of entertainment and learning, and while it was sweaty and hard work, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we all felt like we learned a lot and could more readily relate to the problems in the DR.
3.22.2016 (2nd Post of the Day)
Hot, humid, and sweaty– three adjectives that described most of the arrivals’ plane rides over to the Dominican Republic. After a tiring wait in the airport, students came together to relax by the beach. A delicious meal- local beans, rice, and chicken- and orientation activities ended the first night., sending students off to bed to dream of the activities to come.
The next morning, smiling and sleepy faces rode 2 hours to the Haitian “Batey” (community originally established for Haitian sugarcane workers) of La Grúa to finish up a cement “bottle building” (in which the walls contain bottles, cans, and trash), paint schoolhouse walls, eat lunch, and explore. 95˚ weather didn’t deter our students from dumping sand, mixing cement, and playing (and losing) some soccer. They did amazing work! We finished the floor of a building designed to alleviate Haitian-Dominican relations and provide alternative learning programs for Batey residents.
After returning to home base, students cooled off for a couple of hours on the beach and by the poolside, and met staff member Georgio for a talk about our slavery footprint (check yours out at www.slaveryfootprint.org) and the meaning of Human Security. Mentor group assignments, journaling, and reflection about our days took place as the sun went down. Soon after, 46 tired kids hit the sack exhausted after a long day of hard work.
Today we went to Rio San Juan to snorkel, experience a boat tour, and go to a beach. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it, and some got to experience something new. For example, getting cornrows done, purchasing artisan goods, and splashing into the pristine blue waters of the Dominican Republic.
We started a little later today, having breakfast at 8:30. We got to try the traditional Dominican foods fried cheese, mashed potatoes, and fruit. Then, we drove about an hour to board a boat tour. We got to see the beautiful Caribbean jungle and sea, enter a cave, and snorkel. Looking at the reef, some of us saw an octopus and a lion fish. Then, we went to a beach where we lounged, swam, shopped, and ate lunch. For lunch, we had chicken, beans, rice, fried plantain, and some people purchased Dominican cookies and coconut water. Dominicans also sold jewelry and wooden statues. Everyone enjoyed the experience of a real Dominican setting.
When we returned back to home base, we relaxed for awhile before dinner, which consisted of rice, mashed potatoes, pork, fruit, fried plantain, and fried eggplant. We got a taste of Dominican culture today and had a lot of fun exploring the country’s touristy destinations. One thought we had was that it was nice to have an adventure day in the beginning of the trip, because everyone got to bond and have a fun experience to get to know each other.
We wanted to share this group shot from our awesome teen volunteers in the Dominican Republic – enjoy!
Welcome to our program blog for our Dominican Republic: Spring Break Service Adventure program. We’ll be updating this page occasionally when we receive new info from staff in-country.
We just wanted to let you know that all students for the 3.19 session have arrived safely in the DR with staff and are accounted for.
We hope to have more program updates and photos to share with you soon!