Hi Families and loved ones! My name is Farima Pour-Khorshid and I am one of the Global Glimpse leaders and my role is the students’ Leadership Coach. Today I wore multiple hats and I was also el Líder Del Día (leader of the Day) which is why my Dominican sash has the letters LDD on it. Since I have taken several groups of GG students abroad in the past, I’ve always had the tradition of having students wear my baby brother’s picture when they are the LDD. My brother, Mike, passed away the year before my first GG trip. My brother truly was a leader for so many reasons and I’ve committed to sharing his legacy in everything that I do. Another symbol that I wore and will pass down is the HELLA POSITIVE bracelet to represent my Ph.D. research and life’s work, H.E.L.L.A. is an acronym for Healing, Empowerment, Love, Liberation, and Action, which was also important for me to share with students since we are all from California and that word is a cultural signifier.

Some of us started our day at 6 am because 12 of us chose to work out together on the balcony and we got to see the sunrise which was really awesome! After a delicious breakfast served by Franklin and Miguelito, we began learning more about today’s theme and reflecting on the beauty and complexity of Dominican Culture by thinking about the role that colonization and imperialism has played in culture over time. Our Question of the Day was: Why is culture important in the 21st century? And, why is it important to preserve culture? Our Quote of the Day was: “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you, they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.” – Wade Davis

In our morning mental warm-up we learned about how colonization led to the African diaspora here in the country due to slavery.  As enslaved people in this country, African descendants, along with the indigenous people of this land such as the Taino people, preserved their culture through music and the arts which is why Dominican musical genres such as Merengue and Bachata are heavily made up of African beats and lyrics related to issues impacting the poor and oppressed people. These genres were not accepted by the Spanish and Christian colonizers so in many cases the music began to change to appease those in power. However, Dominican people found ways to preserve their sounds and traditions as a form of healing and resistance. We also learned about the tradition of Carnaval and the significance of mask making throughout the country as another way to preserve culture through joy. Each city has a different type of mask and costume but essentially, during Carnaval, people believe that masks have the power to transform those who wear them.

After learning about these aspects of Dominican culture, we were lucky to learn from one of the most popular mask makers in the country who is known as El Gato. At la Casa de la Cultura, he spoke to us about his inspiration to be a mask maker and he guided us in making our own masks. We had an amazing time and learned so much. We then walked together to eat a delicious lunch that included fried plantains, a delicious rice and meat plate with salad and fried cheese. After lunch, we headed back to La Casa de la Cultura and we met Paul, a very popular dancer and dance instructor in Constanza. He spoke to us about why dancing was important to him and then he taught us the basics of dancing Merengue, Bachata and Salsa and we ended our lesson by teaching him how to dance the Wobble. The cultural exchange was really awesome!

After dancing, we came back to the hotel and began to prepare for our English tutoring which we will start tomorrow. We thought about the impactful as well as poor teaching qualities based on our own experiences with schooling and we began drawing connections to what that might mean for us when we teach English to Dominican people. The students created their first lesson plans with guidance from both GG leaders and both GG coordinators. Students then got into their reflection groups and shared significant objects that they brought to share more about themselves through meaningful artifacts. We then had another delicious dinner and then we had our nightly meeting at the Bakery around the corner. The next Leaders of the Day, Osbaldo and Dora, taught us how to dance “el Caballo Dorado” which is part of their Mexican culture and it was really fun to learn! We were also lucky to meet up with the other high school GG delegation here in the DR and we got to play games, reunite with some students we knew from back home and also meet new students too. During this time we ate freshly baked churros and drank fresh hot chocolate made by Edward, which was both delicious and made with care. We had another amazing day and we feel so grateful for our experience!

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