Tarunika during working like a local day.

Quote of the day: “At least once in your life you’ll need a doctor, a lawyer, an architect; but every day, 3 times a day, you’ll need a farmer.” -Anonymous

Hey guys, it’s Arnav here! Ivan and I were group leaders for today’s hectic adventure. Our day was full of work and excitement, and kicked off with an early wake up at 6 AM, much to the displeasure of our Glimpsers. After everyone was ready, we had a breakfast of toast, eggs, cantaloupe, and vegetables prepared by the wonderful staff of Onaney. 

We began the day with a visit to the FECADESJ facility, where our Glimpsers learned the effort put in by workers to grow the coffee plants that fuel the Starbucks and brown gold (?) that we usually drink without a second thought on a daily basis. And let me tell you, the process is much more complex than what most people (including myself) gave it credit for. Workers such as Raul, Heidi, Agatha, and others showed us how they prepared the plants that grew to produce the coffee we know and love. 

After germinating a seed in water for a week, the workers transfer it to a plot of soil where they let it grow into a sapling. They then inspect the plants to see if the roots are viable enough so that the plant will survive, and the plants that pass are then transferred to a different pot of soil, where they grow into a full-sized plant after 3 to 4 months. The complete process from seedling to packaged, ready-to-drink coffee can take up to 3-4 years. Glimpsers also had the opportunity to fill pots, weed existing pots, and transfer pots to the final area. 

Coffee seed and bean

The students also learned a little about the personal lives of the workers. While most said that they enjoyed their work, a few said they were displeased with the low pay- the wage which could be as low as 300 pesos per day, with a paycheck every week. 300 pesos, or 5 dollars- that costs as much as a venti frappucino at Starbucks, and considering how many coffees Starbucks sells on a daily basis, it astonished me that the pay was so low for those that actually put their blood, sweat, and tears into the actual product- but I digress. After a heartfelt thank-you, we parted ways with Raul and the hardworking staff at FECADESJ, we returned to Onaney for a lunch of rice, potato salad, chicken meatballs, and drumsticks.

Ivan now!!! After having lunch – delicious as always – made by Onaney :), we proceeded to gather around to discuss & plan one of the most important activities of our trip, the CAP project. We gathered around in a circle with our interview groups to discuss each group’s takeaway from the interviews and brainstorm possible projects that would then become our CAP project. After much discussion and with the help of a formula, we were able to see which was our best option, keeping in mind the feasibility, sustainability, and most importantly what the community wanted and what everyone would benefit from.  We ultimately decided to do a 2 in 1 project! We came to a consensus and decided that we would plan to paint a mural of the 3 founding fathers of The Dominican Republic inside the local school and build a garden with a shaded area that would protect the students from the sun. 

After having worked on our CAP project, we quickly rushed to get ready for the next activity of our day, which was English Tutoring. After having walked for 10 minutes to the local school, the groups proceeded to their classrooms to prepare for the next 2 hours of tutoring. Finishing up and walking back to Onaney, we all heard and shared our success stories in teaching and seeing the improvement of our students class by class. Personally, this activity is one of my favorites as it makes me feel really good and proud of my students as I not only see but also feel the passion that my students have for learning, how they yearn to pronounce every letter, syllable, word, and sentence correctly, and learn as much as possible before they graduate. 

Once back in Onaney, we quickly had dinner as we had to prepare our CAP presentation for the panel, which would happen the following day. We split into 5 different groups those being: design, mural, manual labor, garden, and childcare group. In those groups, each group created a detailed poster of what would be done within those groups and the materials and budget they had in order to complete their portion of the project. After having created these posters, we proceeded to our nightly meeting where we had a group reflection on our very busy but productive day. And at last, we were glad and proud to pass the torch to our next leader of the day, Anna!!

Our takeaways: 

Arnav: Today, as you could tell, was a marathon from start to finish. But I am very proud to say that our team moved from the start to the finish line with Olympic-level poise. Despite the packed schedule and the fact that we didn’t have much time to recuperate between trips, the Glimpsers transitioned seamlessly from event to event. It was also very heartwarming to see how enthusiastic everyone was to start tutoring and how their happiness and confidence was elevated after their successful lessons. Personally, I admired the people of FECADESJ, for their ability to perform the thankless work that didn’t receive much attention from the world with a smile, and I think the rest of our team felt the same way. I was proud of everyone today!

Ivan: In retrospect, this day has been one of the most impactfully full days as it was a huge eye-opener. We not only literally saw all the steps of the production of coffee, but we also saw the difficult and laborious work that is taken for granted and deeply underappreciated and unthought of. We the consumers can enjoy waking up early in the morning and having a cup of coffee in a matter of minutes, but we don’t realize or think of the back-breaking and energy-draining work it requires. This experience of working as a local really opened our eyes to reality. We hope that through our blog, you, the reader, can experience the hit of reality we felt while out there just for 2 hours. Our growth didn’t stop there, but it also continued as we planned out our CAP project, which we believe will help better the community of Maguana. Lastly, teaching English to students, which I feel has helped us feel a bigger sense of appreciation to our teachers back home for all the hard work that they do. Signing off after a long but productive & impactful day, Ivan.

Ivan (left) and Arnav (right), today’s leaders of the day!