Saludos from Constanza! I am Vilmaris González the Program Coordinator for Constanza and today I was El Líder Del Día!
Today was a great day for our students and Adult Leadership Team! After getting some much needed sleep the students woke up and seized the day with upbeat energy and enthusiasm. Even though it was day packed of lots of seminars, activities, and many speakers the students were excited to learn about these new topics and were SUPER engaged!
We started off the morning, after a delicious breakfast courtesy of Dilenia’s staff, with a Culture and Safety Seminar that was led by Yohany and I. During this seminar we used interactive methods to demonstrate the importance of not stereotyping or making generalizations of people while here in the Dominican Republic, and overall the importance of being cultural sensitive and aware!
After our seminar our AMAZING (literally AMAZING) Global Glimpse Leaders, Helene and Christina, led two back to back to Academic Seminars to the students which were History and Politics. These seminars set up the day for what was to follow and allowed the students to think critically and create questions to discover answers to throughout their day.
We then had Panny Contreras come and talk to the students about politics and the overarching theme of corruption, which takes place in most political systems. He discussed the importance of eliminating corruption within local and national government here in the Dominican Republic, and hopes that one day when the students return they will notice the necessary change that needs to happen. All the students were extremely engaged with Panny and appreciated his honest approach to the topic during his presentation!
Following Panny’s presentation we had Jeffrey, one of the registrars from Constanza, who is an aspiring candidate to be mayor, come and talk to the students and give a five minute proposal on his platform. Jeffrey gave an inspiring message to the students and his proposal overall was outstanding. He strongly believes in the youth and plans to invest his time and energy to improve systems for the children and youth in Constanza. We had the pleasure of also sharing our lunch time with both of our speakers!
After lunch we had the pleasure of hearing and learning about Constanza’s history told by Miguel Abreu, a local historian, who also works for the national park in the Valle of Constanza. He spoke about the history of the Dominican Republic, but more specifically Constanza and the Valle. His enthusiasm and passion for the beauty of the land here in Constanza was most definitely transmitted to the students through his empowering message!
Even thought the morning and early afternoon was jammed pack with a lot of information and speakers it was evident that the students got a lot out of the experience and enjoyed their time learning more about Constanza!
Later in the afternoon 4 Youth Ambassadors came to meet us at Dilenia’s (our hotel) to commence the city tour!!! They really enjoyed getting out of the hotel and exploring first hand what Constanza is all about. During our city tour several students had cards with pictures with different sites, in which we stopped at to further discuss the importance of those sites. The students were able to see the school where they will be teaching English classes three days a week, have a better understanding of who the founding fathers are of the DR, the station of the famous cazadores (hunters), and overall have a better understanding of what Constanza is like.
And of course what better way to enjoy the warm weather than with a fruit popsicle in the park!
After the city tour we held our first self-reflection, and it was a great time to really process and reflect upon what they had seen, felt, and experienced, so far since their arrival to the DR. This time was a really great way to hear and engage with the students about their awareness and feelings. The first self reflection, just like the rest of the day, was a true success!
One of the BIGGEST highlights for me during the WHOLE day was when the students finally came up with and decided on our official Call and Response that we will be using throughout the course of the next 15 days to do head counts and gain the attention of the group. AND the students decided on saying “Vivir Mi Vida” (as the call) and “La la la la la” (as the response). This made me extremely happy because it is one of my favorite salsa songs and also the song in so many represents exactly what the students should do and embody during the time here in the Dominican Republic!
Following our self-reflection we invited our local Youth Ambassadors to come and join us for dinner. This was a great time for our students and Youth Ambassadors to get to know each other and break the ice. The students overall really enjoyed taking the time to get to the Youth Ambassadors and are looking forward to the next time they can spend more time with them.
There was a lot of BIG LOVE at nightly meeting tonight and I believe all in all second delegation is going great here in Constanza!
DAY 2 was truly an excellent day, and I have all faith that the students will only continue to grow, expand their perspectives and minds, and open up their hearts to this experience and all that the Dominican Republic has to offer!