Hello it is Nathalie and Monserrat here!! Today we both happen to be “lider del dia” which means leader of the day. We started off the day by waking everyone up at 6 in the morning and heading out at 7 a.m. We ate at our favorite restaurant, Onaney Gourmet, and we ate fried cheese and mashed potatoes. After eating at Onaney Gourmet we had an academic seminar based on our question of the day: How do attitudes and perceptions of immigrants shape the lives of these immigrants? We both carried our lunch onto the guagua .We then boarded the guagua, which in America is known as a bus. Once on the guagua everyone decided to take a quick nap so it made the ride quite quiet which is pretty rare for a loud group like us, let’s just say this was the most peaceful ride for Christian.
Our first stop was at el Museo de la Cultura Fronteriza Comendador. This stop was so special to us since it wasn’t open to the public, but Julio, our tour guide, made us their exceptional guests. We saw pieces of the different churches throughout Haiti and in Dominican Republic and we also got to learn about one of the most popular religions in Haiti–which is called Gagá culture. Julio showed us beautiful pieces that represented immigration and Haitian work ethics in one piece. Right after that we made our way into what we thought we would never get out of, the Mercado. It was one of the most hectic visit out of the whole day. We somehow got out after many frequent stops due to the vendors asking us to buy from their stands, Nathalie being stung by a bee and Anudeep having 13 of us wait in the middle of the street while he tried on some Ray Beis. We also had the privilege to have lunch at the Haitian and Dominican border with some of the local youth. We all got to learn about the process of crossing the borders and how only vendors can go through into the Dominican side Mondays through Fridays at 9am to 5pm. We were so excited to go home but we were told that we were going to actually visit the border and get to cross it if we got on border patrols good side. That didn’t happen sadly, but we got to take really good pictures and some of us had a good time putting our hands and legs over the border line. Both me and Jazmine with a Z, made a great observation on how the borders everywhere besides the US are so open and faster to cross.
After having fun we turned onto a serious page and remembered that border patrol isn’t someone you want to mess with so we made our way onto the guagua once again to head back to Onaney Gourmet. The r
ide back to San Juan was longer due to the check points. The youth actually got to get on the guagua with us which happened to be so much fun, we got to sing and dance in our seats. We eventually had to part our ways and start heading back to our hotel for English prep.
Today was a celebration of San Juan which meant a majority of our students didn’t go to work since it’s a religious holiday to them. Turns out all of our classrooms had 3 to 4 students and Renée and Neeraj went from having 50 students to just 7. Victor and Caroline were really happy to have 1 student show up 30 minutes late, but to later have him leave after eating all of their snacks. Whereas Monserrat had no students show up, in which she took that time to take a nap. After 2 long hours of a downpour and going ghost hunting down the empty school halls it was finally time to walk to Onaney’s for dinner. Today we got to eat Mangu again which is mine and Nathalie’s favorite.
Something’s we learned today was the struggles and process Haitians have to go through to just make a living. We also learned about many of the stereotypes that are given to them but we all got to meet and understand that they’re hardworking people just like us. To end off the night we all agreed in our nightly meeting that immigration is a powerful concept and were all seeds planted in different countries but makes us no less or more. Me (Monserrat) and Nathalie had lots of fun being leaders of the day but sadly had to pass the torch to Isabel and Jazmin with a Z and excited to have them lead our first day of CAP.