Hello everyone my name is Erik Contreras and I am the Leadership Coach for our delegation. Today I was lucky enough to be the Líder del Día for such an eventful day. Tomorrow the students themselves take on the role of being el/la líder del día. My role was to do my best to set an example and show the students all the responsibilities of being a leader.
Before anyone becomes leader they need to earn it from the group. You can earn it by doing a unique talent. I was pretty nervous trying to think of a way to bedazzle the group. But, Van Anh, our Health Coach and GG Leader, showed me how to turn an everyday hair band into a star. I know what you are thinking and yes it was amazing as it sounds.
We were able to sleep in until about 730 am today. Considering that our last wakeup call was 5am, this was a luxury for us all. We walked down to our favorite Dominican restaurant “Onaney Gourmet ” for a unique breakfast of mashed potatoes and fried cheese. I personally would not have thought of this combination but each bite was even better than the last.
When we came back to the hostel we led the students in an academic workshop/mental warm up revolving around Culture. Students got to share about what makes their own cultures unique and share ways to respect different cultures. This warm up led us into our next activity. We were lucky to hear from Professor Francisca Encarnación. She told us all about the history of the Dominican Republic ranging from the Taínos, the native people from the island, to the interaction of the Spaniards who occupied the island. Students asked numerous questions about race relations, the education system, and about the colonization period.
Next on our adventure, we headed back to Onaney Gourmet where some of our local ambassadors showed us how to make some traditional Chichiguas/kites. Ambassadors are local youth who work with Global Glimpse to help run some programs and assist with cultural immersion/exchanges. We learned that youth make kites to fly. They can be made with everyday materials you can find such as sticks, string, and a plastic bag. The students were broken up into different groups. They had a chance to share their own experiences growing up and toys or games they played with to our ambassadors. When our workshop ended we enjoyed a tasty lunch of chicken, rice, and beans.
For our next activity, we went walking to City Hall. We were treated to a dance showcase of different traditional island dances. The leader of the dance group, Christian, told us the history behind each dance and different styles of music as well. But, the most exciting part began when he suddenly asked for three girls from our group to volunteer to join on the stage. Everyone was starting to cheer, then he asked for three boys to join as well. I knew where this was headed so I nervously sat in my chair, but luckily three of our boys jumped at the chance. They had the chance to learn from one of the best dance groups in the region. It was really great to see the excitement and energy grow in the room. Then Christian asked everyone to join the group!!!! I was honestly nervous and shy but I bravely went on and danced my heart out. I am not sure if the dance group thought I was good enough to join their group but they made me feel as though I could. We were treated by an even bigger surprise as well. The Mayor of San Juan de la Maguana was in city hall and came to greet us. The students started to cheer her on and ask her to join us in a dance. She obliged and showed us how politicians can cut a rug.
After our dance-a-palooza we headed out to eat dinner at our favorite restaurant. Everyone was thrilled to see chicken tacos on the menu! From dinner, we headed home to have our nightly meeting. At the nightly meetings we go over the day’s events, some of our favorite moments and not so favorite moments. It’s important to note that they also come up with ways to improve our own behavior and group behavior as well. The students themselves had a self-reflection seminar as well. It helps the students to get to know one another better in smaller tight knit groups. But, from what we have seen so far they are interacting with one another really well.
We are looking forward to having our first student leader of the day tomorrow, Renee.