Yesterday was Immigration Day and we started our day planning to go to the Haitian market and learn about the daily life there. Unfortunately, our plans changed, and we ended up doing something entirely different…yet just as informative, if not more so. Instead, another Global Glimpse program coordinator from Haiti, John Presime, came and shared his story of immigration with us all. He talked all about the difficult process of getting a visa in the Dominican Republic and the hard ships of being a Haitian who wanted dual citizenship. He also explained to us the history of tension between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and how that history has affected generations upon generations of people thereafter.

Afterwards we did a short activity in which we answered Yes or No questions about expectations from our family, decisions of our ancestors, and various other topics. Through doing this activity we discovered that those topics had a theme of culture and that the decision to immigrate is a huge one that affects every member of a family, even into the future. We also discovered more about each other and inevitably became closer on the common ground we shared. It is amazing how such a simple and spontaneous activity could have such an impact on the knowledge of our identities.

Later in the evening we wrote the first drafts of our Letters of Appreciation to the people that have supported us and allowed us to go on this wonderful trip in the first place. Each of us poured our souls and emotion into our letters so that we could begin to show even a hint of the gratitude that we feel in our hearts. It was at this point that we all realized that sometimes words are just not enough.

Yesterday was an incredible eye-opener that not only showed the challenges of immigrants in the Dominican Republic but also gave us a peek into the challenges faced by the immigrants in our very own country. It’s through stories like John’s and even our own experiences that we learn how much of an impact immigration has on one’s identity and culture, and how one person’s decision to better the lives of their family can change the lives of many others.

– Azhani D. and Raul S.