Today we got up at 7:30, ate breakfast and went to the environmental school ready to work as usual. Today we are not working in the campus that has greenhouse and mural. Our job is to build a trail at the second campus where we have our lunch everyday.
At the beginning, we were divided into groups of four. One of the group was cleaning the plants with the rakes along the way so that we can make the space for the trail. That sounds really easy, but there were many roots in the way that were hard to rake, and it was also dangerous when others walked over them. So there were four people who used the special axes to dig the tree stumps and roots out of the way. Two groups had to work together to make the path clean and flat. For the places that were hard to walk through, the other group was assigned to build a bridge on the path. They cut the trees into pieces with a hammer, put them on the branches, then press the nail into the wood.
In the end, everyone was exhausted. Even though we were working in the forest and it is not as hot as working outside, clearing the path and building bridges are challenging tasks. We worked longer than last few days, and that made us more tired, however, it is a great experience to do these things we have never done before.
Today was the fourth day of our Field Academy trip in Dominican Republic. After a great breakfast in the hotel, we headed to the environmental school as usual at 8:30 am. Since we worked so hard in the Green House the day before, our new goal for today was to help the students finish the murals. They had already painted simple sketches on five walls and our task was to paint those sketches with different color of paint. We were split into five groups with one local student for each group and they were giving us advice and guidance to choose the color and paint the wall. There were beautiful patterns on the wall such as butterflies and parrots. We also tried their special local snacks and drinks during the break. After a long morning working on the mural, we finally made some masterpieces, even though it had not been finished completely. Every one became artists this morning and we painted very carefully. It was a great experience for us to communicate with the local students here and it was a great opportunity for us to practice Spanish with them and they took this opportunity to practice their English with us as well.
After lunch today we all got on the bus and headed over to the Rancho Baiguate to go white water rafting. Once we got the helmets, life jackets, and wet suits we drove about twenty minutes to the river. We learned all the commands and safety rules and were on our way down the river. It was so much fun. Everyone on my raft was constant smiling and laughing. Harold did fall out of the boat on the first rapid but no one else fell out after. However, there were a few close calls for everyone on my raft. It was just such an amazing, beautiful experience. I would definitely go again. After such a long first day of community service yesterday it was nice to relax a bit and experience a different side of the Dominican Republic. Can’t wait to see what other adventures are in store for us!
Today at the Environmental School, we were divided into 3 different groups, and each group had its respective task, in relation to the school environment. The first group worked in the green house, readying soil for peppers, the second worked to loosen the soil around a lettuce garden, and the third group prepared the soil in the potato garden by removing weeds.
After we had our lunch, we came back to the school to continue the job, finishing it. Right after that we had a interactive volleyball game with the students of the local school. We had our traditional Dominican dinner at the school as well. At night, we relaxed at the hotel.
On the morning of February 26, we woke up at 7:00 AM and had breakfast at the Hotel Mercure. After breakfast, at 8:30 AM, we went on a guided tour by the city of Santo Domingo. On the tour, first we visited the statue of the man who founded the city, Bartolomé Colon, Columbus’ brother. Next, we visited another statue, of Christopher Columbus. In the third place, we saw the meaning of the Dominican Republic flag, the red color is for the lost blood of the soldiers, the white cross represents the peace and religion, and the blue symbolizes freedom. After the flag, we visited another statue, of a priest of the city that founded the first hospital for mental health.
After the visiting these sights, we had lunch at a local restaurant, eating local food, and we took a 3 hour bus to the next part of the trip, the environmental school (La Escuela Ambiental). At the school we met the students and introduced ourselves. One of the students leaded and guided us through the herb garden, where there were many different kinds of plants. Next, we were guided to a Korean garden, made by a previous volunteer, from Korea. In this garden there was a lake, which was filled with plants. In the evening we had a school welcome dance party, where all the people showed us their dancing skills, and we learned to dance, too. Then, we ended the day by checking into our hotel and relaxing.
We got to school at 3:15am and at 4 am we were heading to airport. At the airport, first we checked in, got our tickets and then we went through the security check around 7:10am. After that we got ourself some breakfast (Shake Shack!!). It was such a delicious breakfast before the travel.
On the airplane we were tired and really needed some sleep during the four hour flight. As soon as we landed we were so excited to see our tour guide from EF, Megan. She is originally from New York and now works in the Dominican Republic. She led us to the bus and we headed to Hotel Mercure. The hotel was was very sweet and authentic. We felt the custom of the Dominate Republic and the people in the local were very amicable.
In the area where the hotel is located, we exchanged some money（$1 = 44 pesos) and brought some things we need. We gathered in the lobby of the hotel at 6:30pm and went to dinner. In the restaurant we had garlic bread, chicken with rice and vegetables, and the local dessert, flan. After dinner, we went back to the hotel. It was such a long day and we are excited for the days to come!
Today is the last day that we will stay at school, we are going to leave tomorrow! We did a lot of things today, we chose our roommates, we played Charades for an icebreaker, and Barbato’s group won!
After that, Mr. Sun taught us what we should do if we encounter some emergency problems, and I think it is really important for us to know about those things.
First, if we lose our wallet, we should tell the teachers as soon as possible, and let them report it to the local police. Then, we need to call the bank to freeze our cards.
Second, if there is someone is following us, we need to get away from them, and make a phone call to the teachers. Also, we cannot go outside by ourselves.
Third, if someone is trying to talk with us, and we do not feeling comfortable with that,we should go find our friends and talk to show that we are in a group.
After lunch, we learned some Spanish. We learned numbers, some basic words and some sentences we might use in the Dominican Republic. We also watched a movie called In the Time of the Butterflies. It is based on the true story of four real people, the Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic.
We leave from Ross in 12 hours! We are so excited!
Many students in our trip do not speak Spanish, so we learned some Spanish words from Mr. Sun and Mrs. Martinelli in today’s class, such as Buenos Dias (morning), Buenas tardes (good afternoon), and Buenas noches (good night).
Also, Mrs. Martinelli mentioned some important things that we should pay attention when we are traveling in the Dominican Republic:
Greeting style: The people in the Dominican Republic usually shake hands or kiss one another’s cheek when greeting. So, we shouldn’t feel shy or strange when we are greeted by the local people.
We should make eye contact with people when we are talking with them.
If we want to take photos with or of local people, we have to ask permission first.
Tap water is only for taking showers or brushing teeth, but we cannot drink the tap water directly.
We can try to bargain when we go shopping because it is part of the culture in the Dominican Republic.
After the introduction to the culture of the Dominican Republic, we were separated into three groups to discuss sustainability and the environmental problems in the Dominican Republic. As we know, tourism, commerce, agriculture (coffee, sugar, tobacco are the main agriculture products in the Dominican Republic), and fishing are the major sources of income for the Dominican Republic. However, much of the environment in the nation are polluted nowadays. Some of the pollution in the Dominican Republic is caused by its major sources of income. Therefore, we chose fishing, pollution (air, water, noise, light, and land are the topic that my group focused on), and deforestation as our topics to discuss.
In the afternoon, each group presented to share the results of our discussion with the whole class and watched a documentary about the cocoa farms in the Dominican Republic.
While today was the first day of the field academy trimester, we won’t be leaving campus until Thursday. In the morning, we started by reviewing what we are going to do every day in the Dominican Republic. Our itinerary seems thoroughly planned, and I think it will be amazing.
Next, Mr. Sun explained the three grading rules for field academy. First, everyone will write journals. Second, having a positive attitude will also count as one of our daily grade. Third, we will be presenting what we have learned from the trip on sharing night.
In the afternoon, we watched a documentary about the Dominican Republic. We learned that Tainos is the name of the native people from the island of Hispaniola. The documentary also explained the economy, culture and jobs of the Dominican Republic. Most people’s jobs are related to the service industry, such as tourism, transportation, banking and retail. Others work in manufacturing, construction, agriculture and mining. Interesting fact: Santo Domingo, the capital of Dominican Republic, was called the first city of Americas.
And we ended the day by playing a Dominican Republic trivia Jeopardy game.