Hi! My name is Jack Lesniewski, I was the Leader of the Day on July 1st. Today was an eventful and packed day, we spoke to speakers, had a significant object self-reflection bonding moment, and we also taught students how to speak English.

The speakers came from many companies that work in the Dominican Republic. These companies include(but are not limited to), FUNDEJI, FUNDASEO, and the Peace Corps(United States organization). We asked questions about aid and development and how it relates to these companies. All of the companies above all work towards creating something sustainable in the San Juan community. The Peace Corps, especially work to achieve that goal. They send people all over the Dominican Republic and keep them here for two years to ENSURE that whatever they’re creating will outlast the two years spent here making it.

Each day we have a “self-reflection” period where we look back at what we did today and speak to group members about it. Today’s was simply sharing something relevant to your life and something that holds some sort of significant weight. What I personally shared was an MP3 player, 4 Polaroid pictures, a camera with pictures of people I love and family, and a stuffed bear named “Tony”. The items hold weight in my life because each of them was given to me or contains files of people close to me that keep me grounded and happy even when I’m homesick or depressed about how much I miss the people I love. Sharing the objects to my group members helped me form a significant bond with people who are essentially my new family for two weeks. At first, I thought sharing so much would freak people out and people would scoff at my teddy bear but everyone actually was very supportive of it, especially because it was given to me by my girlfriend. She is essentially the reason behind all of the objects’ significance. The bear was given to me by her, the MP3 player has photos and audio messages of her, the Polaroid pictures are of her, the camera has pictures of her and my family (especially my siblings). All of the objects have weight and value. It was the best self-reflection I had ever done. My group was very loving and supportive of me, and I was very loving and supportive of them.

Teaching English was actually more difficult than expected. As a student, you don’t see how much a teacher actually has to put up with. They have to work students who are confused, who don’t pay attention, who don’t really want to be there, who don’t care, who don’t show up on time, who don’t listen, who play music, who are loud, etc. When I was filling the shoes of the instructor not only did I get an appreciation for all they do but also an inspiration to teach more. I felt like when I left and all my students said “Thank you teacher” in a clearer voice than they did coming in, I benefitted them and their lives in understanding and speaking English. Lots of people in the DR are trying to learn English and being the reason they are able to learn it fills my heart with joy and happiness.

(I’m in the white shirt and cap on the left)

Overall, today was a good activity wise. Being able to help those around me, connect to my peers through self-reflection and constant emotional checkups I feel like I made a difference in their lives. Although I can’t wait to return home and see the ones I love, I also cannot wait to teach more and explore more about the Dominican Republic. 

To everyone at home, love you and can’t wait to come back and see your faces! ❤️😊