It is day six in the good old DR. It has been less than a week since leaving home, but it feels like I have been here forever. By forever I mean it is a good thing! I am Shivali Naran and I go to Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon and I will be writing the blog for tonight.

Today I got to be leader of the day with the wonderful Jess and I couldn’t have asked for a better co-leader. Today may have been a slow day with the three seminars, but that doesn’t mean that there was no learning. We started the day with cereal for breakfast and it was difficult to get undivided attention from 21 high school seniors as we tried to get the day rolling. One of the main things I learned today -as the leader- is that you can’t be the “fun parent”. Jess and I thought we could, but if you think and act like a fun parent it does not work. There is no way to act like the students on the trip while at the same time being their leader and trying to keep everyone on track.

Later on, as part of the Aid and Development we met a Korean volunteer part of KOLCA which is an organization in Korea similar to Peace Corp. Jihwan Lee -the volunteer – came to talk to us and was really inspiring. Yeah, his work in Dominican is great and he is really changing the dynamics in Constanza (a rural city), by teaching computer tech to the locals, however what really meant a lot to me and made me change the way I look at things was that he couldn’t speak English really well but he kept trying. English and Spanish are his 2nd and 3rd langagues and he is working on continuing to learn both while volunteering here. He wrote a speech that he could read from when he came to join us. We could all tell that he was struggling and nervous BUT he persevered and it sounded MUCH better than some of our attempts at Spanish. There were moments when he couldn’t explain what he was trying to say but he was promised to send us a response later on and HE DID. He sent an extremely well written and long paragraph to Camilo (our site manager) answering a question regarding his plans for the future with his career towards development. His commitment and courage to talk to us and then text Camilo to explain what he couldn’t explain to us in class shows that he is compassionate and cares about what he does and facing a room full of English speakers for the first time and he did it even though he was nervous.

Another highlight of today was we got to meet with the Bonao delegation and have lunch with them. Listening to the students talk about their living situation made me and most of the other students grateful for where we are staying and the food we receive. I think the greatest thing that I learned today as a leader of the day is my flaws are sometimes the greatest things that I have. Being leader of the day has taught me a lot and I know when I come home that I will be a changed person and I can say that after only six days of being here and getting so close to the people on the trip. In these few days we have become a great huge family and I am happy to call Dilenia Hotel my home. I still don’t know how I am going to feel in 12 days (when the trip ends) when I have to say goodbye to my family and not see them everyday and this includes the big kids (staff) who we are just as close to. Well it is 11:09 (39 minutes past lights out). I am ready to hit the sack and get prepared for tomorrows living like a local day (a dollar a day). A huge thanks to Camilo, Sahar, and Tim for staying up with me and my slow writing. Well good night for now my loves and you will hearing from us tomorrow. Buenos Noches!