Hola familias y amigos! This is fellow Glimpser and El Lider del Dia for Immigration Day, Zelie Zshornack reporting to you at the close of Day 9 of our adventures here in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. I’d just like to say it is crazy how fast the days have been passing by and I personally cannot believe we are already halfway through our trip, but all of the loving comments from home have definitely been leaving some feelings of homesickness among all of us. But please do not let that discourage the comments they are much needed! *Special thanks to my mother for becoming a celebrity parent here; along with several others, for the constant comments, I am only slightly embarrassed 😛
On to what you are all probably more interested in now… Immigration Day! We began with the usual 7AM wake-up call from me to the rest of the Glimpsers and GG leaders. Yes Mom and Dad, I did actually wake up to an alarm on time. Anyways, after we all freshened up a bit, us bed heads headed off to el Comedor for another expected delicious Desayuno. Pineapples, watermelons, mashed plantains, and flavorful sausages with onions, YUM. Following breakfast, I reminded my peers of the upcoming schedule for the day as we had a guest speaker coming which means we would be dressing business casually *insert smirking face emoji here*.
Before our speaker arrived, we had to finish planning the details of our CAP project to present to the community in a few days. We narrowed our ideas down to 3 specific areas to which we would focus on: building bookshelves for their community center, translating their Spanish brochure into English and French, and finally and advertising/social media focus to grow awareness of Las Cuevas del Pomier (the Caves). We divided into 3 committees and began planning the details of the project we were in to present to the community in a few days. I feel we are all getting very excited to start helping the community and putting our plans to action.
After a short break from the hard work we put into planning the CAP project, we headed back to the conference room for a video that provided the background information to the immigration situation between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The video alone opened all of our eyes to something I feel a majority of us did not know was occurring here, which was the negative perceptions and attitudes that have existed from the Dominicans towards Haitians. Despite sharing an island and being neighboring countries, it was mind boggling to hear how inferior Dominicans saw and treated Haitians as. After the video we finally got to hear from our speaker; Fristzne Blanco, a Hatian immigrant now living in the Dominican Republic for 8 years now with 6 children and a wife. His speech to us gave new depths to our understanding of the immigration issues that are still existing between the two countries such as the expensive, long, and difficult process involved in just getting the proper papers to immigrate to the Dominican Republic. Fristzne’s story made me see great strength in him because even though I have firsthand experience with being an immigrant and living in America alone causes many occurrences among all of us with immigration issues, they are truly nothing in comparison to the problems here in the Dominican Republic. I am most proud of my peers today for being so engaged with our speaker and asking so many questions which really showed our collective interest in this problem, and I think we can all say he was an inspiration despite his quiet and humble demeanor.
Lunch followed directly with our appreciated speaker here at CONAMUCA. Despite our eventful morning activities, all of our stomachs were grumbling for what these women were serving us next. Vegetable salad, rice, the best meatballs in the world (my opinion at least), and sweet fried corn cakes which I won’t deny asking my peers for their leftovers of. We engaged with our speaker at the lunch table while enjoying the amazing meal.
When our speaker left we enjoyed some free time together as a group. Some of us went to the Colmado to buy more snacks while the remainder of us stayed at CONAMUCA relaxing and napping as a recovery from our busy schedules. Upon our return from our snacking adventure we watched a final short video recapping the immigration situation between the Dominican Republic and Haiti which was a good conclusion to the main focus of our day.
Since today is a Wednesday that meant…drumroll please…English Class! We have all begun to adjust to our students and mastering lesson planning to the best of our abilities. Though it is difficult for me personally as a non-Spanish speaker, it is such a nice feeling to know we are teaching our students English to hopefully brighten their futures, and we’re all picking up some Spanish while we’re at it.
As classes ended and we finished planning Friday’s class Isabella and Natalia taught some new games that passed the time at the school as we awaited the bus to take us back to CONAMUCA. When we arrived back we all rushed to the dining hall for the final and best meal of the day. I’ll just take a moment to appreciate all of the cooking CONAMUCA has done and yes, to answer my mother’s comments, I am eating and trying everything!! We are all trying to get the recipes to our favorites to take back home to answer many of the comments asking as well. Dinner tonight was salad, spaghetti, fried banana chips, and everyone’s favorite bread. I feel CONAMUCA is learning SC1B’s special love for their bread as they always bring a new bowl out to us immediately after we finish the first one. As the night came to a close with our nightly meeting, we recapped the day with our favorite and not so favorite moments as well as giving out a whole lot of Big Love after I handed my El Lider del Dia cape to tomorrow’s leaders. Special thanks to all my fellow glimpsers for supporting me today. El Lider del Dia is not an easy job, but I don’t think I did too bad.
Thank you so much for reading! It is getting pretty late, but I just wanted to say to all of our friends and families thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to come and experience this, but we cannot wait to come home!