“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural, it is man-made, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great, and you can be that great.” – Nelson Mandela

Hello from JA1C <3,

We’ve had another lovely day together in Jarabacoa and are ready for some good sleep, but first: the blog! It’s Rylyn here as the Lider del Dia for Aid and Development Day where we started to think about global impacts in the Dominican Republic and our own impact in the Community Action Project.

Our morning started off with a delicious breakfast (thank you Welin!), and then we headed off to the Escuela Medio Ambiental where our guest speaker Annika introduced us to Plan Yaque. The organizational goal focuses on protecting the Yaque del Norte River, the longest river in the Dominican Republic, and whose watershed provides for around 2.7 million people. Like many rivers, the Yaque del Norte faces onslaughts of erosion, eutrophication, and contamination due to a lack of political interest and local knowledge on the issues. Annika explained how they build water treatment systems based on wetlands and increase local engagement to work towards providing high quality, high quantity water to Dominicans living in the watershed.

One of my favorite parts of that was getting to see some solid solutions and changes being created. It felt inspiring and empowering to get to work with an organization like this. I also enjoyed Annika’s in-depth answers to our endless questions and hearing her perspective as an exchange student from Germany.

After that, we headed back for lunch, spent some downtime playing Spot It and making more friendship bracelets, and then began our afternoon seminar to discuss CAP’s importance and structure in Global Glimpse. With our travel journals full of notes, we loaded into the safari bus (my new favorite way to travel) to go see the school that our Community Action Project is taking place in: Escuela Carlos Manuel Tiburcio. Mauricio, a teacher there, showed us around the school and the area where we’ll be working on creating a community garden. We had, of course, lots of questions, and Mauricio patiently answered all of them, but afterwards we enjoyed some delicious juice (I promised I’d mention it in the blog) and several rounds of volleyball with some of the school’s students. A little worn down from the heat, we headed back to our accommodations, had dinner, and held our nightly meeting.

I liked that we got a chance to talk with the people that the garden will serve, and form some connections before jumping into the work next week. The structure of CAP is centered first around discovery, by asking locals what they need and how they want it done, and I felt like we really started to do that today. I got the chance to talk to the sports coach at the school, and he mentioned how he feels like all of the students are his kids. You really got the sense that they all poured so much love and energy into giving these students the best education possible and supporting them. Mauricio explained that the garden will not only provide fresh food to students, but also the experience and knowledge of how to grow it, which comes back around to our sustainable change theme. Kyle also had a comparison that I loved: how Global Glimpse serves a similar purpose of teaching us how to be leaders so we can go and take that home to our communities.

Being a leader today was a bit of a step outside of my comfort zone, because while I love it, I also felt a little nervous about not having a co-leader and getting a big group to focus. That said, my group was so supportive today. The past leaders reminded me of little things I might miss and always checked in, and everyone kept up their amazing energy for every head count and announcement. I had a little moment where I was feeling overwhelmed, but Bridgette and Brendan helped me out throughout the day, and all in all I really enjoyed it. Our call and response today was “Who are we?” “JA1C!”, and it made me smile every time because of all the energy that the group responded with.

Today, I think we really embodied compassion and camaraderie. There were so many moments when people looked out for each other, and it created a really fun environment. And on that note, some of my Big Love Shoutouts from today:

  • Big Love to Alan and Kyle who were fantastic leaders yesterday and super supportive today, especially when I was feeling low energy.
  • Big Love to Liss and Alicia who did a bunch of translating for us.
  • Big Love to everyone who I’ve been teaching to make friendship bracelets. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day, and I love when they come back and show me their finished bracelets.
  • Big Love to my roommates Lani, Beatrice, and MagdaElena – they’re so much fun.
  • And of course Big Love to Brendan, Bridgett, John, and Pam who have been giving us constant energy and dedication for the entire trip. We love you guys!!

And with that, it’s time to pass the torch to our next leaders, Beatrice and Shwun, who you’ll hear from tomorrow!

Sending love to all of you back in the Bay Area 🙂