This morning was the earliest we had to wake up on this trip. As the LDDs, we woke up at 5 to prepare for our 6 AM wake-up call! We used the megaphone to do our gentle wake-up call. One game we played as our warm-up was the Trust Walk, and you can see us preparing for this in the picture above! We are going over directions and as always, discussing the significance of our activity. We might not know what’s coming down the road but the fact that we know we have each other to guide each other, and that we can trust each other, was important for today. Then we had some oatmeal!
After visiting GJ Agricola, a seed bank, we left to work at Alberto Quesada’s greenhouses. It was very hot and humid but we all motivated each other with songs and chants and water breaks! We helped weed the cauliflowers, which required getting quite muddy! You can see Sarah and Stephanie sharing the task in the photo above. Then we went to Alberto’s cucumber greenhouse and helped organize the vines that the cucumbers grow on. We returned to Dilenia’s for lunch: bandera and lasagna!
Before beginning our tasks in the greenhouses, we had a long conversation with Alberto about exporting agriculture and its impacts. His ability to have high pay here in the DR is because he has a profitable business, especially because he does not export any more internationally. We also talked about the importance of reflecting on ourselves, accepting our emotions, and learning to be happy with our lives. Finally, we discussed the importance of our generation in the ability we have to make a change and make a difference in everyday life and our current issues. Be a hero or be at home!
Then we got on the bus with Sandy again and went to Mama Mia, a produce-packing company. We went to the cucumber division. Here we were able to participate in the assembly line for packaging and exporting. It was an eye-opening experience because we saw how many edible cucumbers were going to waste because of little flaws: they were too small, or too big, or had a yellow spot. It’s weird to think that these are GMO, which probably means that organic produce has even tighter limitations. We all had a shocking moment when we found out that one box sold for 800 US dollars, and that all the differently priced boxes actually come from the same packing company. See below for our pepino (cucumber) selfie and hairnets.
Lastly, we went to our tutoring sites and classrooms, which we had been thinking about since we’ve heard about it. We were divided into groups and into different levels of advancement based on our Spanish-speaking abilities. Students were also split by age groups. We had a brief agenda, and Ari’s group was with adults. Ari’s group was leading the beginner adults, a group of six or seven. We immediately tried to estimate how advanced students were. To our surprising shock, we found out the students knew a lot more English than expected. This threw us off as a group and so we decided to regroup and improved our team working skills on the spot. In the end, we were able to assign homework and give them some useful notes, with the hope that they learned something new. Anusha’s group of beginning teenagers was feeling a little nervous at first, but once the students walked inside the classroom, the students’ energy and willingness to learn was uplifting, despite the fact that we were not fluent in Spanish. It was a rewarding experience to see the students understanding how to improve pronunciation and see them engaged in our content.
Overall, in our perspectives, we have gained a lot of respect for bilingual teachers who have to teach a language. It takes a lot of patience and on-the-spot transitioning. Not only this but also we gained a lot of appreciation for the farmers who work consistent hours to provide the food that would not be possible without their hard work. We also gained an eye-opening experience by understanding the standards of the United States. In regards to our group as a whole, we bonded on a different level and truly felt like a team supporting one another.
It was a great day!