We started the day by waking everyone up at 7am to get ready for breakfast at 8am and the day in general. We then went to the eating room, and sat in random seats with tables scattered around the room so we can conversate with others that we might not have known so well earlier while eating. Next we enjoyed our scrambled eggs and hot chocolate.
Before we departed the hotel, the group discussed the poverty situation in the Dominican Republic, learning that over 30% of families in the DR are living in poverty and an even higher amount in Constanza.
We then got on our super amazing pink and white bus on our way to the Dump Site which we definitely underestimated. When we first arrived, we saw the massive swarm of flies squirming outside the bus windows and for the most part, we were absolutely terrified. We exited the bus to piles among piles of garbage which was honestly very emotional to see when we witnessed dozens of people digging through the garbage for survival. Many of us got especially emotional seeing many of these people using this dump site as a way of survival when we continued to complain over the small issues in life like cold eggs. Some of us even shared a small cry after witnessing the difference between poverty in America and poverty in DR. It was honestly the most surprising part of the day considering how greatly just being at the dump for less than 30 minutes affected us when other people are there for hours every day. After scrambling back on to the bus to escape the flies which surrounded us, we arrived back at the hotel for our self-reflection.
This was probably one of the most emotional self-reflections we’ve had to date on this trip. We greatly discussed how fortunate we are to live in the United States with a more easy-going life. It really surprised us how much the group was able to discuss about the dump site without expressing pity for the people who we met. Overall, we had a great discussion about how poverty is differentiated between the DR and the U.S, and the different levels of it in various countries as well. In the U.S, no matter how poverty stricken people are, they are supported by some kind of assistance such as food stamps, but in Constanza, there’s not as much assistance provided; all they have is a limited amount of opportunities to make money/survive, and they have each other. Following this great reflection, we ate a delicious lunch of chicken with cream and white rich with scallions.
After lunch, we decided to all get ice cream cones (paid for by the GG staff), and then we moved in to our afternoon activity and essentially had an outdoor team bonding experience together. All together we went on a small hike which served as a group retreat in which we were able to continue to bond and better understand our differences. Aziza took some awesome photos with her finger in them, best ones of the whole trip 🤣. We also had a small town hall meeting led by Anthony in which we were all worked together to brainstorm some additional ways to ensure everyone was included in group discussions and our everyday activities. Then we took some time to reflect with some meditation led by Vineet before we regrouped to get back on to the bus to the hotel.
When we got back, we all started the planning phase for our Community Action Project. We all decided on what we will exactly do at the park located in Colonia Kennedy to benefit the community based on their needs. One really important project of the many planned is to transform a small staircase into a ramp to make the park accessible to people with physical disabilities. We all had some many amazing ideas for our CAP Project, some including repainting some infrastructure, creating a mural, and gardening. We all stepped up to ensure that our voices were heard so that we can make the best out of this project for the community at Colonia Kennedy.
At around 7pm, we got ready for dinner, which included salami with peppers and onions and mangu. Despite the look of the food, it tasted delicious. After dinner we had about an hour and half before the Nightly Meeting at 9:30PM. While some of us talked on the balcony, others journaled and others took some pretty fantastic naps. And most of us got some to call home and connect back with the ones which we were missing the most.
Finally, for the last activity we had our Nightly Meeting. We reviewed everything we did over the course of the day from waking up early in the morning to having dinner in the evening before the group reflected on the goods and bads of the day. And later we discussed our performance as leaders. Personally, we think we did amazing considering we both helped each other throughout the day to ensure that we completed our agenda and had so much fun. We learned that sometimes it’s of benefit to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to emphasize the best version of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally.
We officially pass the torch to tomorrow’s awesome Leaders of the Day, Karter and Jalen! We both know they’ll smash it out of the park, so check back tomorrow for their blog post for CAP Day 1!
Anthony and Vineet