Bonao at UASDAs an educator, I find great joy in speaking about the ways in which societies can improve access to education and often times, those conversations are very political in nature. Today, we explored the relationship with and connection between these two powerful institutions in our society today.

It’s quite remarkable the make up of the twenty Glimpsers in our delegation. I am quite privileged in the fact that I’m here in the Dominican Republic, but to be with these students who are critically engaged, socially conscious and #woke is so humbling. We began our day with very engaging and deep conversations about the impact that education has in our world. Coming to the DR from the Chicagoland area, our students are all too familiar with the difficulties, inequities, and struggles with education in the public sector. In Illinois, our state officials, including the Governor, have consistently and consciously failed to adequately address the needs of our students today and that same indifference and concern for power is what plagues the political landscape of the DR. With threats of closing schools, issues in funding, and inequities between neighborhoods and suburbs, students reflected on the parallels between their lived experience in their Chicago area schools and educational system in the DR. With that said, we explored two organizations seeking to improve access for those it serves.

Our first stop brought us to Proyecto Alerta Joven. It’s a non-profit organization in Bonao that helps provide opportunities for young people who are at-risk in their communities. Proyecto Alerta Joven provides educational resources about sexual and reproductive health, offers training and learning experiences for students who would otherwise be involved making choices detrimental to their livelihood, and creates a pipeline for more youth to get involved in this program. There, we heard personal stories, participated in a privilege exercise, and shared our own journeys with the students.

Our final stop brought us to the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo in Bonao. We were welcomed by an organization called M.I.D.E., started in 2011, that brings English classes to university students. There, we met the creator of the organization, Francisco Diaz, a teacher and politician who ran for a congressional seat in the Dominican Republic this past election cycle. Mr. Diaz provided a short lesson on the political system in the Dominican Republic and answered questions from Glimpsers ranging from the troubled relationship between Haiti and the DR to corruption in government to youth activism. We engaged in difficult discussions that challenged Glimpsers to create solutions to the DR’s educational problems. In all, our Glimpsers has several wonderful opportunities to reflect on the similarities and differences between the educational and political systems in the United States and the Dominican Republic while critically examining their respective struggles and successes. What has been an even more profound experience was watching all the Glimpsers learn from and with each other while sharing their experience with those in the community here in Bonao.

It’s only the end of our third day in Bonao and our Glimpsers are doing wonderfully! We are an energetic group, with lots of dancing, “Katays”, and “Pop Pop Fizz Fizzs” (you’ll have to ask your Glimpser about that)! Our Bonao team is excellent and has been working diligently and tirelessly to make this experience a successful one! I can only look forward to what the rest of our trip will bring. You are reading about today’s and tomorrow’s leaders and it is my hope that they can continue and will continue to push for social change not only in the Chicagoland area, but in the areas they touch, like the DR today!

At this point, look to see your Glimpsers blog about their experiences. Our El/La Lider del Dia will be updating our blog from here on out!

Corey (GG Leader)