Hello friends and families, my name is Reevan Cole and I am 17 years old. I was born and raised in Berkeley, California and I currently attend Envision Academy located in Downtown Oakland. Today I was honored with the wonderful opportunity to be the Leader of the Day or as we say it here with Global Glimpse, el líder del día. I am very glad that I was able to lead all of my lovely peers through this day because it was an experience like no other due to the fact that today was our “Living Like a Local” day. Part of our day was spent in a community called Cañda las Palmas where we bonded with the President of the community, Jose Victoriano and the rest of the community. Jose, alongside the neighborhood association, lead this community where there are approximately 60 families in total. I was able to walk around and interact with the 5 families that the other members of my group were assigned to meet and get to know. Most of my job today was making sure that everyone stayed accounted for and were held accountable when interacting with the community members. This task wasn’t too difficult since all of the families and their children were such delights to be with.

My day started off with a beautiful sunrise at 5:30 am that me my roommates Dora and Zoe and I really wanted to experience together. After the sun fully rose I was in charge of waking all of your amazing children up at 6:30 am so that we could all have breakfast at 7 am and leave to the community. Since today was Living Like a Local, we were tasked with the challenge of going an entire day with no electricity, no running water (we instead had to use a bucket of water to shower and wash up), and eating the average meal of a local. So for breakfast we ate 2 pieces of bread and a cup of hot chocolate. After breakfast we had a mental warm-up which is basically designated time set aside for us to learn about a community before we go and visit it.

So during our mental warm up we learned how 1.6 billion people live without electricity and at least 1.8 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to clean water because it is contaminated with feces. Meanwhile the average U.S. citizen uses 151 gallons of water per day and as we reflected on this we came to the realization of how easy it is to take basic human needs for granted. Another fact that we learned more specific to Constanza is that this city is responsible for 80%-85% of the water used by the Dominicans, given that most of the main rivers that run through the country originate in Constanza and fill their waters with the most important dams. However those living in rural areas in Constanza often have limited access to water in their homes and that has become one of the biggest challenges in Constanza due to the local government.

We arrived in Cañda las Palmas around 8:30 am and we went straight into meeting our assigned host families and visiting their homes to bond and also help them with chores. Since I was Leader of the day I started off with my assigned group host family but after about 15 minutes and a game of dominoes with Oz, Jerome, and Sherry, I started to walk around to visit more homes in the community. First, I visited the home where Cherrish, Viri, Meli, Micheal, and Jasmine were having a mid-morning snack with bread and coffee. Then I went to visit Kenni, Melisa, Jenna, and Becca where they were playing a card game of 21, which took me a little bit longer to get the hang of than I’d like to admit. My last stop was with the host family that Liam, Zoe, Sandra and Dora were at, and because it was my last stop, I was able to spend a bit more time there than any other home that I visited. We played different types of dominoes as well as Go Fish and card matching games. Next we ate sancocho which is a Dominican word for soup accompanied with rice for lunch. This delicious lunch was prepared by Kaliyah, Elena and some of the other locals. After lunch, we all branched off to interact and engage in more activities with the people from the community but most of us I rounded up to play some basketball. We played for a good 15- 30 minutes before all of our attention was drawn away from basketball and more towards the little kids learning how to take pictures with our professional cameras. After about an hour of activity time we gave big love to the community and hopped on a lovely bus ride back to the hotel.

Once we got back to the hotel we had a 15 minute discussion in preparation for tomorrow’s activities. Then we had a 3 ½ hour break where most of us took bucket-baths since we had no running water. It was also a time for my roommates and I to take naps since we woke up so early to watch the sunrise. Later at 6pm we had self reflection time in small groups and we answered a series of questions related to the day such as: What was your first impression when you met the community leaders and their families? Did you see how they cooked? Did you see a hospital or clinic in the community? Did you see them happy? And some main points from my discussion was that yes, this community has their struggles, yes their everyday lives look nothing like mine and yes, they lack things that we depend on to survive, but they are truly happy. I honestly think this community has found a sense of happiness and unity that most people with resources will never know in their lifetime.

After about an hour diving deep into these reflection questions we had dinner where I challenged my peers to sit with new people that they haven’t spent as much time with, which led to some deep and emotional conversations that brought us together for the better. Sadly, I had to cut those conversations a bit short due to the fact that we had to start our nightly meeting where we took a deeper dive into more eye opening conversations about our education system, poverty and injustices in the U.S. After those lovely conversations, I had the honor of passing on the touch to the next leaders of the day, by the way, our torch is actually a light up toy ax. Melisa and Elena showed the group their talents to earn the honor of their role as upcoming leaders. They showed us their beautiful drawings and ended the act with a really funny disappearing magic trick since we were all still in darkness due to our no electricity challenge (which was one aspect of the Living on a Dollar Day Challenge). After the passing of the torch, we gave what we call “big love” where we just appreciate everyone here and everyone had something loving to say. No voice was left unheard and we really valued it all. We normally rap up our night with a chat or some type of game with just the Glimpsers so that we have the space to get to know one another more deeply. Honestly, we talk as if we have known each other forever and I love it because I know these friendships here are built to last a lifetime.

Overall this day was incredible and I don’t have enough time to describe to you how much of a once in a life time opportunity we are being exposed to right now but I hope you can at least get a little glimpse. I know that I am so grateful that my mom allowed me to come here and each and every one of you allowed your children to have this experience with me too because I wouldn’t trade any one of them here for the world. So thank you and we will see you soon, much love.