Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Day 5 - The Work Continues

We returned to the Abreu school to continue working on our various projects. Now that we have been there for several days, the students recognize us and are much more willing to converse. Carley, Molly, Claudia, and Siqi taught ESL today.

Siqi holding the attention of her students.

We returned to lunch at a cafe that we dined at on Sunday and had a chance to meet with Sheila, the owner. Originally from New Jersey, she came to the Dominican Republic thirty years ago and has had many different business ventures. She now owns a cafe and garden on the main road along the north coast, in Abreu. Through her story we learned quite a bit about her community, the lack of efficient suppliers in this region of the country for a resturant, and how gaining trust within a small community is essential for survival. The security system in this area of the Dominican Republic is really the community looking out for one another.

Shelia talks to us after lunch

Shelia shared great perspective on her journey that resonated with a lot of us who either speak little to no Spanish. When she first arrived, Shelia did not speak Spanish and had to rely on friends to translate. Even though they translated, she would often miss much of the nuances in communication. If there is one thing that we have all learned from this trip, it is the value of being able to clearly communicate with those around you. However, despite a language barrier, it is amazing to see how much one can communicate with another person who speaks another language. For example, our driver Juan Martin does not speak much English, but we have been able to communicate well with him. He is great and has even gotten involved in painting the past few days.

Juan Matin

As we see and experience more in the Dominican Republic, students are beginning to gain more context as to our work here. Shelia was asked at lunch what she would say to people in the US if she returned. Shelia said that she was amazed how Dominicans do so much with so little and are so happy. The minimum wage is $200 / month, but many earn much less than that with informal employment. The unemployment rate hovers between 20-30%. Shelia also said not to feel bad for Dominicans but, instead, appreciate the luck of being born in the situation we are fortunate to be in.

And now, some photos of murals we have created with the help of Juan Tejada, our mural artist. 

Laguna Gri-Gri, where we visited

Playa Caleton, the beach we visited on Tuesday.

A drawing by Dempsey and Johanna.

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