Starting off last night after our nightly meeting with no lights, fans, or running water, the students were all prepared for what to expect the next day of “Living Like a Local.” Bright and early this morning we were supposed to have a 6:30am wakeup call, but the students were good sports when our alarm didn’t go off, leading to a 6:45 wakeup and cutting the time for getting ready down to only 30 minutes. Breakfast consisted of a few pieces of bread and some hot chocolate- the average meal for a low income family in the Dominican Republic. We then were taken by bus into the community of Maguana al Medio and split into groups of 3 (each including a Spanish speaker to help us translate) The groups were then separated into 7 different homes in the same area of the community in order to best understand the locals’ way of life. The tasks that the locals had used our help with included mostly household chores such as sweeping, mopping, and washing dishes. After some time spent with the local families, we all gathered together to eat a lunch of beans, rice, and avocado that was prepared by one of the homes that students were working in. When everyone was finished eating, we helped wash the dishes and played games with the children there. As the last activity in the community, we had headed over to the local elementary school that was about a 10 minute walk from the house that provided lunch so that we could see what one of the delegations had done for their CAP (Community Action Project) last year in the school to give us ideas of our own. After this we headed back to the accommodation for about an hour of free time and then we had a seminar to discuss our own design for our CAP to be carried out within the next few days as we come close to the end of our trip. Ending off the night, we had sausage, bananas, and yucca for dinner and settled down for our self reflection and nightly meeting.

This day was a very interesting experience with the information that we were given in advance through our mental warm up and our seminar to prepare ourselves for the day. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into the day, all I knew was that it would be a physically and emotionally trialing experience having the opportunity to see how these locals live their lives on the daily. I, ironically, was placed in the group that was in charge of cooking the lunch for everyone for the day, as I am famously known at home for my lack of cooking skills… This time was fun to learn the trade of cooking from the woman that my group was spending our morning with once we were finished sweeping and mopping the house about 3 times (we weren’t that good at it…)  I was very happy to get the opportunity as well to sit down, while we were waiting for the food to cook, and watch Tarzan in Spanish with no subtitles on Disney channel on the family’s tv… & yes mom, I regret studying French in school rather than Spanish, thank you for asking. This experience all around was very eye opening to the contentment the people had with what they live with and helped give me a new perspective on the material things I take for granted in my own life. I would like to thank each and every parent of a student that is on this trip with me for teaching them perseverance and commitment as today was a long day, they all had showed me support as the leader of the day and for giving me the honor of being the “mom” for the day and all together showing their support to each other as we are all getting to know each other more. Lastly, I would like to say hello to my family and friends that have been checking up on us throughout the time we’ve been here & I love and miss you guys so much! We’ll be home before you know it!! -Jenna Olson

After the nightly meeting from yesterday, electricity and water were shut off for each of our rooms in the accommodation, meaning we had to take bucket showers and sleep without fans (we all woke up sticky and sweating already) Going into the day, I tried to keep an open mind about what was coming up for everyone and not create expectations for myself. The home that I was placed in had limited resources such as running water and electricity and could only wash their clothes on Saturdays or hand wash them throughout the week. My job on this or the day was to sweep the outside of the house where the porch would be in their yard and mop the floors of the house from the mud that our shoes dragged in. The woman that was leading the household at the time started to cook outside in a shack over a fire stove, asking us students to stay a good distance away so we wouldn’t inhale the smoke from the fire. The people in the community were very kind and didn’t want to put us to work, rather they just wanted to show us their hospitality and how they live. This made me feel helpless as I wished there was more that they would allow me to help with. Through this experience, I was reminded to be thankful and happy with what I have rather than wishing for the next best thing as I realize that the people here are already content with what they have. We also got the opportunity to ask the locals some questions about their families and lives, giving me a new perspective on their culture. Thank you for checking in on us in these blogs and we will see you at home soon! -Brianah Beverly