Hola! Today was culture day for the glimpsers and they participated in their academic seminar which was a rich discussion and activities that attempted to define culture and its importance in the 21st century. The glimpsers took a look at the differences between American culture and Dominican culture, and recognized the dangers of making broad generalizations of culture and the importance of experiencing a culture with an open mind.
Next, we had our first guest speaker: Professora Francisca Ogando. She is a professor of geography and history from the local university in San Juan. She conducted a lecture on the history of The Dominican Republic, including the indigenous people (Tainos), the slaves who were brought by the Spanish colonists to work the land (Africans), and the impact of colonization (Spain). Despite the history of war and the extermination of the indigenous people, the Dominican Republic did preserve two major influences from Spain: language and religion. After the lecture, the professor answered the glimpsers’ questions, including the current immigration issue between the D.R. and its neighbor Haiti. Additionally, she wanted the glimpsers to know about how Dominicans were and are integral in the rebuilding of Haiti since the devastating earthquake.
Quick Facts we learned from Profesora Oganda:
1. Haiti is west of the D.R., and the two countries comprise of the island of Hispaniola. They have similar racial ancestry, but their language, food, and other aspects of their cultures are uniquely rich.
2. According to geologists, the D.R. is still forming, so a mountain or some other geological structure could form after time.
3. The D.R. is a tropical country. Because of it’s positioning in the world, the rays from the sun are vertical, which is why it is so hot.
4. The indigenous people were from Venezula. They settled in the D.R. and depended on agriculture, fishing, and hunting for survival.
5. Yucca was the main source of food for the Tainos, and is still a very popular food today.
Finally, we transitioned from our discussions of the culture, to experiencing the musical aspect of the Dominican culture. We watched performances of Bachata, merengue, and other dances in the concert hall in town, then we learned the dances ourselves! Every single glimpser tried the Bachata, and some students even learned to play the traditional instruments. Some glimpsers participated in a cultural exchange, in which they shared their favorite dances from New York with the dancers and musicians. After such a long, but educational day, the glimpsers had a great time showing Dominicans how New Yorkers “get light” and “milly rock.”
Tomorrow, the glimpsers will have their first tutoring session in which they will teach English right here in San Juan de la Manguana. The Global Glimpse Leaders are excited to pass the enriching, but challenging task of being an educator to the students, and look forward to their growth as leaders!