Today was our first free day! We started off with a late wake-up call, which was dearly needed after a long emotional week. In the morning, we had an “American style” breakfast of Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops, served with a side of Dominican fruit. After breakfast, we split up into two groups and explored the beautiful city of Constanza.
The first group went to the internet cafe followed by the second group who visited the local supermercado. While in the city, the second group, who were visiting the market, ran into the Bonao delegation on their guagua (bus).
After both groups returned to the hostel, we prepared a chant to welcome the Bonao delegation. Our chant was simple but effective when executed by such a great group of young leaders who were full of excitement for meeting a new delegation. This excitement was much needed for the Banao delegation due to the fact that they had just come back from the dumps as it was their poverty day. Without so much as a simple reminder, my group was not only on their best behavior, but also extremely understanding and compassionate to the Bonao delegation.
To bring spirits up, we celebrated a combined three birthdays (birthdays from both our delegation and from Bonao’s). To celebrate such a joyous occasion, we had a huge skillet filled to the brim with paella.
As if that weren’t enough to celebrate, our amazing GG leaders bought an enormous vanilla-strawberry birthday cake with marshmallow frosting to literally and figuratively put the icing on the cake. The compassion expressed by my group (who I now truly consider family) made me proud to count myself among them.
During Bonao’s visit, it started to rain. In the Dominican Republic, when it rains, it REALLY rains, and it rains hard. This was a pleasant surprise as many of us were excited to see rain after living in a drought back in California. Unfortunately, the rain prevented us from continuing our exploration of the city after the Bonao delegation left as it was a mix of both hail and rain, a combination that no one would be happy to walk in. Even though we couldn’t continue to explore the city, we played cards and told stories to each other to pass the time, a valuable experience in relaxing and getting to know each other better both as people and how we connect within a group. We also danced together (including teaching others the Nae Nae) and after our meeting that evening, we did some karaoke!
Being El Lider Del Dia was different for me as we didn’t have a set curriculum. Unlike many other ELDDs, the day I was responsible for was fairly relaxed. The un-stressful day was a welcome addition to the week for both me and my group. Through being El Lider Del Dia, I discovered that I had a keen ability to relax and help my peers relax after a stressful and emotional week. Overall, the day was not only a calming day, but also a day where we could explore the beautiful city of Constanza on through our own eyes and explore where we wanted instead of following any set curriculum.