Hi my name is Austin Nguyen and I was student leader of the day today for the delegation.  Today was another free day, and it was much more free than the first. The first day was, in effect, more of a fun day, because while it was a day more oriented on rest and relaxation, we still had a schedule to follow and places to go.

This day was not so! On the official guidelines, we had only three timespots set in stone: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The rest of the day was ours to do as we saw fit, whether it be to stay in our rooms and take incredibly long naps, or to go out and explore the city. I, for one, did not want to spend the day asleep, so I very much wanted to go out.

After breakfast, I and a fairly large group, composed of almost every member of our delegation, decided to head out to the town and go to a department store that we had discovered a few days earlier. The air had been chilled a little bit by a morning rain, one of the first ones that we had seen during our trip – even though Bonao and the entire Dominican Republic are usually very rainy. The sun had begun to shine out of the clouds, however, bringing with it some of the usual heat of the Dominican Republic, and the air was becoming increasingly humid.

After looking around, making our way home, and then eating lunch, some of us decided to go out again, while others, like myself, decided to stay home and relax. Even though it had become very hot and the hours grew longer, we managed to pass the time with card games and the game of choice of the Dominican Republic: dominoes. I’m pretty sure it’s not seen as very competitive or maybe even fun in the states, but here in the DR, it is the real deal.

Shortly after our board game escapades, the wind began to pick up and the air grew much cooler, which was very welcome for me. It then, however, grew much cooler than what it normally becomes, and the wind began to howl. A storm was brewing, and most of our delegation gone out once more (save for me, as I wanted to stay home for the rest of the time until dinner). The rains became torrential, becoming strong enough to splash up to even the second floor of our two-storied home and even go into open windows, wetting classrooms and our bathrooms, despite our windows being rather tall. Suddenly, almost as fast as it began, the storm stopped and everyone made it back, wet and tired but cheerful, as we had just experienced our first tropical storm.

I felt it was very interesting to see that despite the storm, people were still carrying out the daily lives as usual, even with how suddenly it came. I mean, they started to carry around umbrellas, of course, but they still drove around, still walked where they needed to, and, with today being Sunday, still went to an outdoor church. I hadn’t had the chance to notice it before, but these storms are really just another thing that the Dominicans are accustomed to dealing with.

The rest of the night progressed as it does ordinarily, with dinner, our nightly meeting, and finally, now. Now, as I sit outside and write this blog while looking up at the Dominican sky at night, while most everyone is asleep, exhausted from the day, despite it being almost an hour before our official bedtime, I feel a little disappointed, truth be told. There are fewer lights here, so I should be able to see more stars than back home, but the clouds are covering up everything – even the moon. Still, the cooler, dryer air is more familiar and makes me feel a little closer to home, which I’m sure is in the thoughts and the dreams of everyone tonight. I’ve also noticed that we only really have one week left here in the DR to try and learn and do as much as we can.

I guess we have to make it count!

As a final note, happy father’s day to all of the dads who are thinking about their children, who are three thousand miles away in a place that they have likely never gone to before. We miss you and love you.