I want to send a big and warm hug to everyone who is reading this back in the US! Today was a crazy adventure full of fun and excitement. We started the day with breakfast and hop on the bus to get to Saltos de Jima (a waterfall). The bus ride was long and tiring, but our energy was a really up there, especially when we have our youth ambassadors, Kendrick and Kelvin, on the bus with us. As soon as we arrived at the site, the scenery was breath taking. We were able to emerge ourselves with nature and take a step back to appreciate everything around us. The hike itself was very challenging due to the steepness of our path, but we did get to squeeze in some exercising time. It was definitely very rewarding when we reached the water fall, the scenery was definitely something we will not get to see back in the US. After our fun hike, we headed back to the hostel to start on our Letters of Appreciation. During this time was when we were able to reflect on our entire trip. We got a chance to think about the impact this trip has on us as an individual and as a group. Also, this was a chance for us to thank the donors for the work that they did for us. Without our donors we wouldn’t have been able to make this trip happen and I just want to let them know that their hard work did not go to waste, for all of us saw a great change in ourselves after our little reflection.

As we were hiking at Saltos de Jima, we also got a chance to think about our question of the day, how does environmental awareness and protection differ from the US? It really got me thinking, how is it that I feel so close to nature everywhere I walk in the DR, but I won’t be able to feel the same once I am back in the US? We would have to pay to go a national park and here in the DR, it is free and open to the public. Here we don’t need any sign to stop people from littering, but back at home there would be a sign every step we take. That was when I was able to see how much the people of the DR value nature. Nature is the start of everything, every being on this earth relies on nature to survive, from the tiniest insect to a big giant blue whale. We need to be much more aware of what we are doing to our home and take care of it. Seeing how close I was able to get to nature in the DR, made me realize the more important things in live.

As I reflect on my experience today, I feel that we all share a responsibility to take care of our home. Our quote of the day was “Take only pictures leave only footprints.” The quote shows how attentive we need to be with nature, it is important that we appreciate it and at the same time look after it. This planet will be our home for many generations to come, so let´s all join hands and create a safe place for everyone to live.


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