I’m Tom Aiello, and I was given the privilege of being el lider del día for politics day. The focus of today was to explore and discuss the relationship between the Dominican Republic’s politics and its citizens. It comes as no surprise that the group couldn’t discuss government without discussing corruption in government (especially that of a developing country). However, in the spirit of unbiased discovery, the group was scheduled to hear from multiple perspectives.

Although we weren’t able to hike to the waterfall yesterday for risk of floods, today happened to be the only dry day in the week, giving us a small window to enjoy what was planned on fun day. Before we left, we attended an hour long seminar about Dominican politics to get everyone thinking about how corruption is often justified, and the varying motives a politician may have for their actions. After a short bus ride to the lower mountains in Bonao, we began hiking with our tour guides, Andres and Samuel. The mile hike out to the waterfall consisted of a beautiful forest scenery, rocky terrain, and wooden stair structures. When we reached the waterfall, the water was clear and icy cold. After an hour or so of frolicking and picture taking, we hiked back to the bus and thanked our guides before leaving.

At the next stop, Freddy Empanadas, we devoured our lunch of empanadas, and met Martin Soriano, the Director of Youth Development in Bonao. After a short walk to his office, Martin humbly revealed that he spoke very good English, so he had no trouble taking our questions without a translator. The most inspiring answer he gave was to why he got into politics: he was tired of hearing criticism towards the government by people who could participate in government, so he decided to take matters into his own hands and get involved. Before we left, the governor of the province made a short appearance to shake each delegate’s hand.

The rest of our day followed with the fourth English class of the session, a tasty dinner of sancocho with rice, and the nightly meeting. It was truly refreshing to see and hear an example of passion in the public sector of a developing country. We are all looking forward to a full day of rehearsing our options for the Community Action Project and presenting them to Esteban in Rio Blanco tomorrow!