Being the first student leader of the day has some weight to it. More weight considering how hot it is and how wet and heavy our clothes get with sweat. However, being the student leader for this day was enlightening because it was about how our necessities affect the people in a completely different country.

We all woke up at seven in the morning to eat a delicious breakfast of Oatmeal, bread and fruit prepared by Licelot and then after a quick morning energizer and talk about global business, we headed over to Cormidom to view a mine.  There we got a debrief of how the mine operates and the ways the mining companies tackle the geological and environmental impacts of the mine and how, on top of those things, the mine helps the area it is set up in such as filling the pit that the mine is in plus planting trees and stimulating high paying jobs for the locals. That was one perspective of the story. We traveled then to Loma Miranda, a mountain which supplies water to pretty much all of the Dominican Republic and ate lunch. There lies an environmentalist group which is basically fighting to keep a Canadian mine company out from mining in the mineral-rich mountain. We talked to one of the main leaders who is a teacher and gave up his profession to protest the companies. We then hiked the mountain and came across a river and that is where we turned around and went back to the bus where I presented the gift to the teacher/environmentalist leader.

We then came back to the orphanage and went straight to quiet time to relax. After the quiet time, we learned stuff about the English tutoring that we would be doing tomorrow. Then we went out into the city with the ambassadors and got some amazing ice cream. I didn’t eat any because I was too busy with the kid rides in the ice cream shop. All of us congregated at the dining hall to eat dinner and go into our self-reflection groups.

After the self-reflection, we went into the seminar room for our nightly meeting where we talked about the question of the day: how can we practically balance business with the environmental impacts and human rights? This discussion took me back to Loma Miranda where the leader of the environmental group told us about how the mines poison the water and disturb their way of life. This leads me to believe that there is no way of balancing business with the environment. Everything is a transaction in the world and so you can make a transaction for business and profits for the environment and benefit of people or make the transaction or trade the other way. There is no middle ground that can be reached because it isn’t as clear cut as it may seem with a lot of grey area in the middle. Business, such as mines, help us with technology but it is our duty as humans and inhabitants of this planet to preserve and not ruin it for the future generations to come.

PS: To Apurva’s mother, she says Happy Birthday to you and wishes that she could be there. She hopes that you have a good day and another amazing year as her mother!