From your Dominican Republic program staff:
To our life long friends,
The Dominican Republic was new for us, which was particularly a treat because it was new for most of you guys too. Now, here we are months later with only pictures and memories of our 2015 summer in the DR. It is so weird how we meet eachother, have to be 24 hours together, learn from eachother, really get to know one another, do such awesome stuff for the communities, and time passes so fast…and we go back to our reality at home as if it was a distant memory or dream.
There were three 21 day groups. Every single group had a unique energy to them. From the first day we met everyone at the airport, to the last day when we hugged everyone going back to the airport, we had a connection. You all have such a great heart. To be honest, you made us better. You taught us so much. You inspired us to continue down our path, too. So thank you for that. Thank you for supporting us. You have no idea how much of an impact you have made. You guys took such a big step to do a program like this with GLA and challenged yourself to the fullest. We feel so lucky to be a part of that.
So yes, time passes so fast. That is life. We will always have our individual memories. We will always have a connection with every single one of you guys and we will never forget our talks about life. We remember telling you guys not to lose your passion for volunteerism. Dont. Get involved. Read about the world. Make people smile. Protect nature and animals. Take care of yourselves. Educate others. Let go of your ego. Help others. Put down the phone. Learn from others. Laugh. And most importantly,
- LIVE WHAT YOU LOVE.
- Team sea glass necklace.
- Personalized sea shells.
- Early morning runs.
- Nights with the stars.
- Pyramid attempts by waterfall.
- Life juice.
- Digging holes.
- Maggots turn into flies.
- Workout with Georgio at 9pm.
- Buying puppies.
- The best leadership with Sarah.
- Pushing Crystal in a pool. You have guts.
- Laughing…so much laughing!
“We are able to live the way we live back home because others sacrifice here and they don’t even know it.”
Always in our thoughts,
Crys and Shay]
It was such an amazing, challenging, tiring, fun, endless summer for the boys and girls participating to the Building a Sustainable World service-learning program in the DR. I bet no one will ever forget all the emotions, feelings and thrills of the 21 days spent in the Indalo Lodge and in the many communities of the Dominican north coast. For sure I will never forget the usual screaming at night, time of light off, coming from any girls bungalow when a giant armless spider or a microscopic fly were founded hanging from the roof or upon the mosquito net! Or the loud, super loud, too much loud volume of youngster American music in the bus!! The guys learned a lot of interesting and useful things, such as dancing Dominican reggaeton, jumping from a zip-line hanging 30ft upon a clear, cristaline tropical lagoon, the name of Dominican Republic first lady, eating “tostones” and “guandules”, drinking coconut water and the precise ratio of sand and cement to be mixed to build up a wall.
Talking seriously, I think it was such an important moment in the life of our students. They could experience the struggles and difficulties of the everyday life in a third world country. They touched by hand what living in a forgotten and poor Haitian “Batey” means. What kind of difficulties and challenges kids like them are facing day after day in places like La Union, La Grua, Caraballo and other communities were they could work. It was nice seeing them scared and suspicious, confused and overwhelmed at the beginning and then, after a couple of days of hard work in a village, holding two or three Dominican babies on the shoulders, dancing hand in hand with Haitian kids, playing football with them such as they always knew each other… and discover that human feelings, dreams and expectations are the same in New York as in Las Canas, in the US as in the third world.
I know there was some difficult or hard moment: not every single day was just fun and enjoyment… the students worked hard, mixed cement, cutted playwood, painted walls, pulledl heavy wheelbarrows. In some moment the sun was really hot… sometime there were a lot of mosquitoes around the houses in the villages… Strange new food, new people to deal with, waking up early in the morning… hiking a steep hill under the tropical sun… But I’m sure any of this moments contributed to the process of student’s personal growth and in creating a strong team spirit… I remember many crying guys on the last day… they became like a family, sharing fun and hard moments and, most important, sharing life changing experiences that are hard to believe and understand if you didn’t tried it! They came to DR like young scared students and went back home like older and more experienced young-adults, filled by once in a life time experiences.
Students had also the opportunity to understand and discuss many issues about human security and development. They could face new perspectives and points of view about their lifestyle and about their life at home and its effects on the rest of the world. That was, for many of them, useful to understand to be on the right path and to continue to be engaged for making the world a better place. At the opposite some of them were shocked by some new issue about poverty, world economy, environment or some founded hard to believe some topic about the world and the cause-effect chain of the elements of human security and to find out that life is not what it looks like from a Tv show.
Finally, I don’t want to forget all the incredible results we scored together during summer 2015: thanks to the students hard work, we completely renewed, rebuilt and painted the Joba Arriba communal water tank; we started building the plastic bottle clinic in La Gra completing it by 80% (the community is working on it at the moment to finish it before Christmas!); we worked hard to renew the La Veredita community center, providing the community a safe place where to have their meetings and store medicines; we built three new greenhouses for the Arroyo Blanco cocoa farmers, improving their ability to produce new plants; and we cemented more than 25 houses floors in La Union… a super important project to improve the health security of this very poor neighborhood: Mercedes and the other women of La Union want me to say thanks to any student that worked so hard and well in their village last summer! A big hug from the girls and boys of La Union! And also a big hug from Jony, the bee farmer of Cano Dulce, that now can improve the production of honey thanks to the new bee houses built and painted by our students. A very important successful project to improve the poor economy of that little village.
Last but not least… A respectful and sincereTHANK YOU to any student that shared his efforts with us last summer trying to improve the quality of life of many people and the human security of a small part of the world… Acting locally we can change the entire world and together we made the difference! Thanks again and believe me, we miss you all!
 The delicious campo lunch at Doña Máxima’s house in Brisón and the refreshing ice cream on the top of the mountain after two hours of very hard hiking.
 The “What are the Odds” game!
 Watching the bruised, yet smiling students step of the bus after a day of ziplining at Dudú.
 Kicking around the soccer ball with the kids in La Union.
 Bonfire ans Stargazing on the beach
 Slapping cement on the walls of the bottle building with the local kids in Caraballo.
 The night in Jarabacoa with the lunch prepared by our mentors.
 Hanging around In Santo Domingo by night
 Jumping from the scariest waterfall in Damajagua 27 Charcos
 Sharing time with friends under the porch at night at the lodge… so many laughs and memories!!!
Giorgio Piracci, International Director
Some extra photos just for you!