Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Back From the Dominican

By Lauren Hale

Well our trip is over and it was a pretty crazy week.  I’m not even sure where to start; probably the most pressing matter is the incredibly itchy bug bites that are covering my legs right now.  I’m doing everything I can to resist scratching them but sometimes it’s impossible.  Other than the painfully itchy bug bites, I would say it was a very successful trip. 
            This was my first international study abroad experience and one thing I definitely learned is that all those brochures for study abroad programs make them look like heaven on earth.  A lot about traveling is absolutely amazing but some things definitely aren’t.  These are also the same things that make me realize how incredibly grateful I am to live here in the United States.  Things like being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet and not let it sit in a trash can next to the toilet, having toilet paper at all, having toilet seats on toilets, safe drinking water, effective bug spray, reliable electricity, consistent water pressure.  I’m sure there are many more but the point is, these are things that we never have to think twice about here and finally being exposed to a country where these things are not commonplace really opened my eyes.  I’ve never been more grateful for returning to my own bathroom in my entire life.  But the Dominican also has remarkable opportunities to offer too.  We went white water rafting, helped a women’s association get their nature reserve off the ground, donated a good sum of money to their cause, and contributed to reforestation with native plant species.  I wasn’t able to say these things before and I’m very grateful to the Dominican and all the people we met there who let us help them and who helped us.      

            There will be more posts about specific stories and things that happened on the trip but until then, we all survived, learned a lot, and are happy to be back (just not happy to be back in class). 
Here we are at the ecological school building a new drainage system out of bamboo and creating a trench with river rocks.

This was our first night on the trip.  We are in Santo Domingo, the capitol city and oldest city in the Americas.

We hiked to the waterfall that is part of the nature reserve, and took a bunch of pictures.  

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