Today was our first official day in the Dominican Republic and we were excited to discover this new world opening before our eyes, to start our day we woke up to a very nice breakfast that included locally grown papaya and after washing the dishes we had the opportunity to receive our first seminar. We created our group agreements, a commitment to give our best, be present and open to truly live the next 14 days. During the seminar, through a game of Jeopardy, we learned some important fact about DR’s culture and everyday life, like moto-concho for transport and the traditional lunch.

We then had the opportunity to share facts about ourselves and get to know each other more. Then for lunch we ate La Bandera (typical dominican lunch) and had the chance to meet our ambassadors and get ready for our city tour. While walking through the city of Bonao we learned about how power can change the lives of people and also that those changes sometimes come at a very high price. During our city tour we got to meet Jim Hernandez and Stefany, the people in charge of La Voz del Yuna, who shared facts about the history of this important radio station and their inspiration to preserve it. At the museum they played music from a Vitrola, a manual vinyl record player, which is nothing like modern day technology, but still really cool to see it in action. We also met Felix, a shoe shiner working in Paque Duarte. He has worked at the park for 40 years and with his dedication to his job, he sent his 4 children to college. We were fascinated by how colorful houses were, a big contrast to the big gray buildings we see back home.

After the tour was done, we had paletas, exchanged gifts with our ambassadors, and Javier drove us back to our accommodations. Our first self reflection today was about first impressions – first impressions of Bonao, its people and the food. We are looking forward to meeting Licelot (our cook) and today we all fell in love with yuca at dinner, many glimpsers had never tasted it before so it is a welcomed experience.

Today was full of new experiences and valuable discussions. As a Líder del Día (Leader of the Day), I felt proud to see everyone engaged and asking questions, especially when we compared the realities here to our realities back home. It really made me realize that this is a great way to start the summer.

Bonao, ACTIVO!