Yesterday I was the leader of the day and it was not what I expected it to be. I honestly thought that being the leader of a free day would have been a pretty fun and easy thing to do but it ended up being quite the opposite. The group ended up enjoying freedom and space outside the hotel that we hadn’t yet experienced. Getting to fully walk around a country and going to and seeing the places that you choose. One of the hardest parts about being a leader was making sure that people knew all the rules that were in place when going out, and making sure people signed out in their groups of 4, with an ambassador, and were back within in an hour. And although sadly, many stores were closed because it was Sunday, people were able to use the time to hang out with their friends and the ambassadors and just relax like we hadn’t been able to in a while. Although I sometimes got frustrated with people returning 10 minutes late, or people laughing too loud, I found new ways to keep my calm and keep going. Mainly I’m just grateful that I made it through the day and somehow gained a sense of selflessness and determination that I did. But maybe I was just below my own standards of what I could accomplish. I don’t know maybe I just really needed a free day, and some sleep.
Today was immigration day, we focused on the idea of immigration issues between Haitians and Dominicans. As a group we literally crossed the border from the Dominican Republic into the winding dirt road of Haiti. Having the global experience of going from one country to another within an hour was mind blowing. A few nights ago I really thought I had experienced culture shift first hand, struggling to adjust to the different language, clothing, and people, but honestly seeing that two countries next door to each other could have such different cultures is amazing. We went to the Haitian police station and some local Haitian government buildings and asked serious questions such as “are there frequent incidents of racial discrimination at the borders?” When we were coming back from the border I got a chance to experience some of this discrimination first hand. When the border police officers came on our bus they singled me out to get off the bus based on the color of my skin. It was definitely an eye opening experience that made me think deeply about immigration issues both at the Dominican-Haitian border and at home.