We are Elena Dickman and Natalie Santillan. Today was Immigration Day. We started off our day at 7:00, ate oatmeal with banana, and had a mental warm up before getting on the bus for a long ride to the Batey Palave. When we arrived at the Batey, we were welcomed by a few speakers who explained the history of the Batey. They explained that due to the history between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Haitians are often not able to feel welcomed in the DR. It is very difficult for them to receive any type of documentation that would allow them to have the same services as a Dominican person. The Batey is a community that started off as a group of Haitians who worked on a sugar plantation, and it developed into a community where all Haitians can have a home. We broke up into smaller groups and each spoke with a community member. It was a very eye opening experience to be able to hear their personal stories, and to have a chance to have important conversations.
After having conversations, the members of the community took us on a tour of the Batey. A common theme throughout this trip is that everyone that we meet is very welcoming and willing to share their homes and communities. We ate a delicious lunch that was prepared by locals. We had rice, beans, fried plantations, gnocchi, marinated pork, avocado, and Dominican style cornbread! After eating our meal we played a game with the locals called common ground. A series of questions were asked to us, and we would walk to one side of the room if our answer was no, or the other side of the room if our answer was yes. This allowed us to discover some of the differences and similarities between everyone, and come to the conclusion that no matter where you were born or what your nationality is, we are all human. After the game, we said thank you, presented their certificates, and said goodbye.
When we returned to the accommodations, we had some free time, and then we got to have explore time with our local ambassadors. Our GGL’s noticed that everyone was very sleepy on the bus, and they decided that we should all drink an electrolyte drink. This was a very dramatic experience as some of the students were trying to secretly dump out the drink because they could not get over the flavor, but Naceli made sure that everyone drank a full cup. Our ambassador Henry took us to a souvenir shop once everyone finally finished their drinks. When we returned at 6:30, some people relaxed, others played with the children, and others played an intense game of volleyball. We then ate papaya, yucca, and marinated sausage for dinner. After dinner we discussed more on the topic of immigration in our self-reflection groups. We ended our day with a nightly meeting and passed on the torch to the next leaders. Today was a day about hearing multiple perspectives, being open minded, and learning about immigration and self-identities. We always love spending time with locals and hearing what they have to share with us.