“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.” –Wade Davis.
Often times people are in their own little bubble—hanging out with the same people, practicing their own customs and traditions, and seeing the same things every day. That is not reality. The reality is that there are a wide variety of cultures outside the world you’ve been exposed to. Culture is a system of beliefs, values, and assumptions about life that guide behavior and are shared by a group of people. It includes customs, language, and material artifacts. When you’re in a foreign country with absolutely no electronic devices whatsoever, you’re forced to notice things and become one with the people.
Starting the day with a rough start due to certain incidents, the tension in the room was so thick it was almost tangible. One of the most important traits of being a good leader is not only to have the strength to lift yourself, but also to lift the entire group. For all the parents worrying about their child not eating correctly, I can assure you that the Global Glimpse cooks are super. Pancakes, fruits and vegetables, and wonderful juices make up a healthy balanced breakfast. We had our daily seminar which focused on the theme of the day. We walked to Piro’s workshop under the scorching heat of the Dominican weather (no worries we all put on sunscreen) and right when I walked in, I saw a human puppet with my peripheral vision which startled me. The young teens and children were there to perform Carnaval choreography. Carnaval is a huge celebration that the entire country celebrates. The music was upbeat and the dancing was fast paced and wild. A couple of students volunteered—including myself—to wear the costumes and dance in them. One word: workout. Halfway through the dancing, I was tired due to the heavy weight on my head as well as the fast movements. That performers do this for four hours under the scorching heat voluntarily is amazing. The pride and dedication in which the people show their culture is astonishing.
After the Carnaval workshop, we went to the Plaza de la Cultura, which is absolutely beautiful to look at. Murals on the sides of the building are colorful and it really shows the type of artwork that Dominicans make. Inside is a three story art gallery. I absolutely love art and I tend to analyze artworks and try to figure out the meaning. The entire gallery was a story: a story of pride, of lost hope, of dreams. One floor of the gallery was dedicated to prostitution and lost hope. Due to the economic problems in the DR, many youths turn to prostitution as a way of life. Dreams were tainted and what surprised me the most was when the tour guide told us that prostitution was legal in the DR. I admire the people we met who strive for a better life, a better education system, and a better community. Culture unites people together, it informs people, and it’s a way of life. The Dominican culture is all about family, about happiness, and about overcoming struggles together as one unit.
We got back and had a self-reflection session where we better got to know one another. What makes a strong community? It’s not the community but the people. A building can’t last without the support from the pillars. A program can’t last without the support of every individual. A leader is only as strong as its people.