We started the day at 7am with some Frosted Flakes- like cereal and tropical fruit salad. During our academic seminar we talked about how our family’s immigration history can affect our identity and how everyone is a descendant of immigrants. We role played different people, such as a Haitian sugarcane worker in Dominican Republic and Danilo Medino (the current president of DR). The point of the activity is to learn about the different viewpoints and how current regulations would impact certain people. In the discussion, we also compared immigration policies in the Dominican Republic and those of the United States. This morning we had a field trip to the Office of Regulation planned, where we would see the actual process of getting documents ready for immigration. Unfortunately, the workers there were very busy with the large number of applicants so we were unable to visit the office. On the flip side, we stayed in the hostel and did a simulation of the immigration process. We received profile cards of fictional Haitian immigrants and went through the lengthy procedure with our program coordinators as the administrative staff. We had to go back and forth between two different waiting lines. Many of us felt the frustration of waiting in line, the language barrier, and watching our small reserve of money decrease each time we had to “cross the border” to get our documents. This simulation made me realize how time consuming and costly it is to become a citizen; spending so much money to gain basic rights without knowing if you would or would not be receiving citizenship was definitely my biggest worry.
Afterwards, our speaker of the day, Edricio Joseph, came and shared his story about his immigration from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. He gave us a personal account on how difficult it was to complete the citizenship process. In addition, he spoke to us about his cultural identity and gave us an inspirational message to always look toward the future. His motivation for applying to become a permanent resident in the DR was because he wanted to secure more opportunities for his future. Edricio was super charismatic and he joined us for lunch; some of us took the opportunity to ask him more personal questions like what English movies he likes to watch and his workout routine.
Later in the day, we had our second CAP seminar where we planned out what we want to contribute to the local Youth Center. Some of ideas include organizing the library, space improvement, painting the walls, and an event. Then we rushed to our English Class and spent 2 hours there.
Today I learned more in depth about immigration. We were shown first hand how the whole documentation process worked. The actual experience was very different from what I would get by just having people tell me about it. After today, immigration to me means more than just getting paperwork and documentations, it is about the fusion of many cultures and discovery of one’s identity.