One Week, Many Good Experiences!
June 25, 2012
By: Amber Brookmire
Amber is a graduating senior at the City College of New York, majoring in Anthropology and Jewish Studies. She is participating in the 2012 CCNY-InteRDom Service Learning Program, and will serve as the InteRDom Correspondent in the CUNY system.
It is amazing how much I have seen and learned after spending only one week, in Santo Domingo. During the first few days we met our team of volunteers, learned to make “huertos” (small gardens) at the National Botanical Gardens and helped create organic compost at a university in Bonao. With my notebook and camera in hand, we boarded the big, white bus and headed for Cielo, the first community in which we will be working.
Upon our arrival, one woman invited us to eat freshly picked mangoes from her backyard. It was incredible to sink my teeth into the ripe fruit as I looked up into the trees from which it grew. We then headed to the families’ homes to dig our hands into the dirt and transform bare plots of land into beautiful vegetable gardens. Although gardening may not seem to be physically challenging, it takes a lot of strength to use those heavy gardening tools! I can already feel the burn – now all I need is some spinach and I’ll have biceps like Popeye!
Aside from the gardening project, I have been soaking up the culture as much as possible. I wake up each morning to the fruit vendor yelling “AGUACATE” outside my window. It is so cool to buy fresh fruit for morning smoothies by simply walking to meet him downstairs.
I have yet to delve into the public transportation here. From what I have seen, road rules mean nothing! Between the guaguas and carros públicos, chaos fills the streets – but it is very exciting. I will soon pay the very inexpensive fare (about 50 cents) to take an adventure in one of the two.
As for the beaches – let’s just say words wouldn’t do them justice. My fellow CCNY interns and I took a trip to La Romana (a province about 1 hour from Santo Domingo) to spend a day beneath the palm trees on one of the many public beaches. The water was crystal clear and the sand was like white flour beneath your feet. We played water ball with some local kids to work up an appetite and then enjoyed fried fish and fresh shrimp in our beach chairs.
To say the least, this week has been very fulfilling. I am so excited to be working with such unique and wonderful people to make a positive impact within the local communities. The kindness of those that surround me warms my heart and reminds me to seek joy through the simple things in life.