Violet, Mary, and Courteney woke up at 6:15 to be ready to wake everyone up at 6:45 for our Aid & Development day. Mary and Courteney used the megaphone to wake everyone up, saying “wakey wakey, eggs and panky,” “cock-a-doodle-doo, the cow goes moo”. Meanwhile, Violet was banging on the boy’s doors to wake them up.

After everyone was awake and done getting ready, we all headed down for breakfast and our lovely Liselot made us pancakes, eggs, and mango, and hot chocolate. The vegan options were vegan pancakes, pineapple, and vegan hot chocolate. After breakfast, we had a mental warm up and discussed what we were going to see at Rio Blanco, we were informed this was an Haitian community who struggled to receive documentation as a legal Dominican immigrant, resulting in numerous challenges to get education and aid from the government. After our warm up, we traveled by bus to Rio Blanco and were greeted by friendly community members. They gave us a summary about the program, Imagine Santo Domingo, who provides aid to the people in the community, especially the kids, by linking local nonprofits with international volunteer service organizations. Along with Imagine, there was UJEDO (The Dominican Interdenominational Youth Union) whose goal is to create opportunities for youth in their community, and improving the lives of the people of Batey Palavé. Next, we split into two groups and some community leaders lead us through the tour of the community, we all took in the poor conditions of the housing, lack of running water or bathrooms, so the people use communal toilets and eight families use one toilet there.

For lunch we had our first meal without our precious Liselot. We did, however, prevail. The group enjoyed rice, beans, chicken, salad and a special Dominican treat that was similar to a donut.

Once we licked our plates clean we began our Community Action Project interviews. The thirty of us split into groups of five with our assigned community members. Our mission was to ask questions regarding the CAP project as part of the “Discovery” phase in order to hlp us create the plan, or “Design” of our project. These members of the Imagine and UJEDO foundations held varying roles in the community of Rio Blanco. For example, there were the organizations’ founders, single mothers, artists, and activists whose anecdotes gave us all different perspectives of what the community needs. The intention of breaking into groups was so that when we all come together to discuss our conversations, we will have a clear vision of what to do as interpreted from our discussion with the source.

It is apparent that a park upgrade is their top priority. This not a huge surprise after seeing the current state of the park. While the exact plan is not yet final, we plan on repainting the mural, cleaning it up and adding play structures for the children. The demand for this park upgrade was clear from the second we arrived. Many of the childrens parents are hard at work all day, so the kids spend much of their time at the park. After thanking our guest speakers and giving Ernesto and Javier their girfts we loaded onto the bus and headed back to Bonao.

After we returned to La Fundación, we had a thirty minute siesta during which we showered and freshened up. This was much needed since our tour through the community was strenuous and the sun was beaming down on us. After this, we all met in the seminar room for English tutoring prep. In this meeting, we went over what we need to do to be sucessful teachers to our students. Then at five o’clock, we have our first English class!! This was so exciting. We all got dressed in our business casual outfits, then our delegation split into groups depending on the levels the students and the teachers are with their Spanish and English. The fluent Spanish speakers taught “basic” English. Those who speak enough Spanish, but are not fluent, taught “intermediate” English. And our non Spanish speakers taught “advanced” English. All of our classes went extremely well! First, we introduced ourselves to our stuents in our teaching pairs and trios. The students were all very nice and welcoming to our instruction. The classes were two hours long, and in those two hours we met one another, played a game, taught a lesson, did an activity around the lesson, and assigned homework. After the students got on their motorcycles and went home, a thunderstorm started (as expected here in Bonao!) so we all ran into the kitchen for dinner.

For dinner, we had spaghetti with meat, salad with a vinegar dressing, and bread with herbs. The vegetarian option was spaghetti with sauce and vegetables. This is all thanks to the lovely Liselot! Then at eight thirty, we had our nightly meeting. Tonight’s meeting was fueled by the emotions we felt walking through the Colibri community. We discussed imperialism, international aid, and sustainable develpoment. We shared our opinions on the United States obligation (or not), as a world super power, to aid other countries. Then, we shared our love for one another in our “big love” session in which we call each other out for the good things we did today. And the torch was passed. Violet, Courteney, and Mary handed over the badges of leadership to our new Leaders del Día to Alexia, Yamile, and Aliyah.

Today was a long day, both mentally and physically, and we are more excited and inspired than ever to embark on our journey of completing our CAP project!