Hello! Hola! Leaders Derek and Alexis here! Today is Day 5, Living Like a Local Day, which focuses on immersing the group into the local culture of Santo Domingo, a town in the Los Santos Province! Each student was assigned to a local family or person in the area and spent the day living with and helping them.
The group first met with a local businesswoman in the area, Martha Martinez. She would not only house groups of students, but also make lunch for the day. The traditional meal Sancocho, an iteration of chicken soup, was brought back to the families to enjoy around mid-day, giving us glimpsers a chance to share the intimate space of sharing a meal.
Joanie, Aaliyah, and Anh stayed with Marta. They toured the city while Martha told them about the local history in the area. She explained how different areas in Santo Domingo created unique identities, leading to many local rivalries. Afterwards, Marta invited them to help her cook the Sancocho that was distributed to the local neighbors and families! As the owner of her own bed and breakfast, the glimpsers definitely helped doing some “quehacers,” or chores, that they could not escape from.
Crystal, Jeckson, and Vivienne met Lucina. They helped her with her store as well as in her home. They learned about how hardworking she is and her connection to Santo Domingo. Their chores included stocking her store and mopping the floor. . Yasmine, Sabrina, Derek, and Mirabella met with their Negra, a local teacher, and her son Humberto. They enjoyed a nice hike in the area that lead to a spectacular view, after which they found themselves playing soccer with some local students. While walking through the quaint rural town, not only did they experience the intense Panamanian heat and humidity, but also the hospitality and warmth of the locals. . Alfredo, Shalimar, Alexis, and Carolina visited the Jimenez family, local artisans. Together, Maria taught Shalimar and Carolina how to sew and embroider, while Chambito taught Alexis and Alfredo how to weave a motete, a traditional basket. The family grew throughout the day and ended up reaching ten members. Nieces, nephews, and other family all joined in unity to talk and laugh..
Marylu, Ally, Kristina, and Maria stayed with La Maestra, a retired teacher who now lives in her grandparents’ home. They tried on her elaborate traditional Panamanian dresses, called polleras, and learned about the history of the house in which they resided.
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Regardless of the family the students stayed with, each student was able to gain a new perspective on their own lives and privileges, and had newfound appreciation for the amenities they took for granted. This experience is one that the students will forever hold in their hearts and lives.