Hey everyone! Today was packed full of Dominican culture! Our main two activities were a visit to a Carnival mask making seminar and then a Dominican dance class.

On our first stop, we met a locally and nationally renowned artist, Gato, who began making Carnival masks at the age of 15. As a master mask maker, he helped introduce our students to the art of sculpting clay into detailed, creative, “rostros” or faces. The students were both inventive and terrifying in their imagination. Sarah’s looked like a scary sun god, Eugene went overtime to put the perfect touches on his, and Ethan’s level of detail showed us why he’s an art major. Just like the Carnival masks represent the unique areas of the Dominican Republic, the students’ masks represent their unique approaches to this trip!

After an amazing lunch at Dilenia’s (pork chops, yellow rice with corn, and salad) we headed off in our next adventure to learn Bachata and Merengue.

The students kept up with all the moves from acclaimed dancer and choreographer, Paul. Everyone participated to the fullest. We learned new steps, turns, and even had some hip swiveling! It was hilarious and fun. There were times to shine in both a few group dances and then some 1-1 lessons. Joselyn was the first and last on the dance floor and knew all the words to every song. Jamie ended up being the break out star, he was shy to start but then brought the party. Yazmin earned the title of Queen of Merengue for her smooth moves. Our committed, courageous, and compassionate crew grew closer and bonded through Dominican rhythm.

Once back home, students had free time and really impressed us. They got to go to the local supermarket and the amount of snacks they bought was astounding. They’ll never run out. Afterwards we had small break out groups to reflect on their experiences but the truly magical part was what they chose to do on their own. They didn’t want to know each other better just in small groups but as a whole. They took it upon themselves to organize and share in a group that includes everyone. Questions ranged from “what is the biggest challenged you’ve faced” to “what sports team has to go” to “what superpowers would you want to have”. Their desire to know one another outside of adult guided activities was heartwarming. This is a great group.

Cant wait to see what Day 4 brings with our first student leaders of the day: Alan and Sarah.

The adventure continues,

Maryanne and Connor