My peers and I learned about the process of immigration within the Dominican Republic. More than just the process though, we got the chance to hear and learn about the experiences of Haitians who live in Colonia Kennedy: a community within Dominican Republic. I am most proud of my peersand I being able to talk with the people of Colonia Kennedy and learn about their stories. I got the chance to talk to Ostave Alix, a Haitian day worker who talked about his family, immigration experience, and future ambitions. He told me his sole reason for immigrating to the Dominican Republic was to work in order to earn money to send towards each of his three daughter’s private school tuition. Ostave left his daughters, a nice house, and a teaching job in Haiti, in search of better pay to ensure that his daughters would get a better education than him. I asked him whether or not he planned to go back to Haiti after his daughters finished their schooling and he stated that he planned to continue working so that he could also pay for their time in University. Therefore, Ostave to me was the most inspiring person I met today as his sacrifice for his daughters and their education reminded me of my parent’s sacrifice for mine. While being Líder del Día pushed me way out of my comfort zone, I found that it taught me valuable skills that I will use in the future.
Today my peers and I listened to a guest speaker and visited Colonia Kennedy; a city that holds many Dominican and Haitian day workers. We embarked on this trip with the focus of immigration, history, culture, and politics. At times being Líder del Día was challenging because there were so many fun activities to attend and I was nervous that I would mess up the packed schedule that was set up for us. This anxiety immediately began to fade when we met our guest speaker, John. He actually shared first hand experiences of immigrating to the DR from Haiti; he came to the DRinside of a vehicle meant to fit 6 people, but actually had 13 inside/on top of the car. HIs dreams were transformed into a business that offers electricity. After conversing with John and asking him a few questions, we began our trip to Colonia Kennedy! While there each group (consisting of 3-5 students) stayed with a family for the time of our 2 hour stay. We all took that time to ask as many questions about the hardships of being a Haitian in the Dominican Republic and their own personal journeys to the country. I personally went to the home of a painter named Ostave. He left his home country of Haiti in hopes of bettering his children’s lives. In Haiti he received a good education; learning English, Creole, Spanish, and French. This education lead to becoming a professor, but sadly the pay he was receiving did not match the needs of his growing family. After 3 children, Ostave moved to the Domincan Republic and began painting for various businesses. He does this because he currently pays for a 5 bedroom house in Haiti (where his daughters live with their cousin), 3 private school educations (he wanted his daughters to have the best education possible and Haiti was where he decided to send them), and still needs to save money for the universities he wants his daughters to attend. His story was so inspiring because he sacrificed his own comfort and life to provide for his children. He plans to continue this until their twenty-one years old and his youngest is currently seven. I was extremely surprised by his dedication to the goal of improving his family’s life and the faith he continues to hold in the youth. It was honestly so empowering and it was an honor to be leader of the day!