Today was our first full day in country, and what a journey this was!! After a really invigorating night we started our day full of excitement and ready to take it all in, most of us were up even before the first wake up call!! After our breakfast with Licelot our food provider, we had the opportunity to create our group agreements, a commitment to be respectful, open minded and support each other the next 14 days. During the seminar, through a game of Jeopardy, we learned some important fact about DR’s culture and its everyday life, like moto-concho for transport and La Bandera, 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 learn about the most relevant facts Dominican history, over the last 600 years. 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 Stefany, one of 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 from 1906, 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 Parque Duarte.

He has worked at the park for 40 years and with his dedication to his job, he sent his 4 children to college and provided toys for his 20 grand-children. We were fascinated by how colorful the museums are and also how even in the same area two extremely different realities seem to peacefully coexist.

After the tour was done, we had some ice cream and then Javier (our transport provider) drove us back to our accommodations. Our first self reflection today was about first impressions – first impressions of Bonao, its people and the food.vToday we all fell in love with yuca at dinner, and appreciated it as a part of the Taino heritage of the DR.

Today was full of new experiences and valuable discussions, of how history affects us today and also how it keeps repeating itself. 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. Lastly, our word for the Unity Clap was Community, representing the amazing anonymous people we met in Bonao and how we all appreciated their kindness towards us while walking in the City Tour, It really made me realize that this is a great way to start the summer.