Jasmine Terounzo and Sharwine here. We got the honor of being the Líderes Del Día for this very busy day. We woke up at 5:00 am today, which is the earliest wake-up call we’ve had throughout the entire trip. At breakfast, we had pancakes with fruit and started our day off by taking the gua-gua to Elias Piña. Along the way, we picked up our guides, Abraham and his son. They accompanied us further along our route and walked with us when we got stuck in traffic due to the fact that it was a free commerce day (which is every Monday and Friday). The streets were crowded and full of energy; people were trying to squeeze through on mopeds or walking with large packages on their heads attempting to get to the marketplace so they could sell what they had. Some of us even got to put our feet and hands on the Haitian side of the fence when we got to the border!
After seeing the border, we visited the Binational/Immigration museum, where we met Jude, a local Haitian youth living in the DR. We learned about the similarities and differences between the Haitian and Dominican cultures, specifically about dance, music, and religion. The group then got to experience walking through the marketplace, observing how the locals make a living on the free commerce days. Jude told us more about his life in the DR as a Haitian and we had a catered lunch with our guest speakers. We presented gifts to our speakers and parted ways so we could get ready for our fourth English tutoring class. After teaching for two hours, we returned to the hostel for a delicious dinner of pasta and fried chicken. To finish off the night, we separated into our self-reflection groups and discussed our feelings about the day.
Jasmine: Holaaa todas! First I want to say hi mom and I love you, I hope you finally found your way to the blog 🙂 Being the leader of the day for immigration day was a very interesting experience. Having to unexpectedly walk to the border through all the traffic with a group of 20+ people was very stressful but, in the end, we all made it safely. Seeing the marketplace was something very new to experience. In Greenfield, we have farmers’ markets but nothing like the one we saw today. Everything that you could imagine was being sold and the streets were completely filled with people of all ages and many mopeds trying to squeeze their way through. Realizing that this was how all of the people of these two communities make a living and support their families was a real wake up call to how privileged many people, including myself, are back home. Every day many people leave their families and haul goods to the Dominican Republic in order to make enough money to survive. I realized that I take my job and my families’ jobs for granted, we have an expected income while so many people here do not. Throughout this trip, I have changed my perspective on many things and it has been truly humbling.
What’s Gucci, my homies, it’s Sharwine! I really enjoyed being Lider Del Dia with Jasmine, especially since it was Immigration Day. Going to the border, museum, and the marketplace has really changed the way I see my family and my culture. Being Haitian-American and living in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, I never got to participate in any of the big traditional celebrations that my parents grew up with. I have never felt as connected to my culture as when I talked to Jude about our favorite Haitian foods and the funny mannerisms that Haitian people share. Big love to all my family back home! Sak pase??