Today we worked on building a fence in an incredibly rural area at a public school of Santo Domingo. I've always liked car rides because I like seeing things as we pass by, but car rides through the Dominican Republic are definitely the most interesting and crazy I've ever been on. Going to the orphanage we got to ride in a pick up truck with some of us even in the back (I got my turn on the way back). If you looked off the road for more than a minute you might miss something interesting. There are just so many things that I'm not used to seeing at home, such as people riding in carts pulled by horses and donkeys through the streets and people walking with bowls of food balanced on top of their heads. Those little things are the things that truly remind you that you're in a different culture and country. There are also tons of little things that remind you of the poverty level that people are living in. The shacks that people live in are basically pieces and sheets of metal pinned together to create a shelter. There are people in the middle of the streets trying to sell things to make any bit of money they can, even with the risk of being hit by a car.
Despite all of this, I think everyone on this trip has come to the realization that the Dominican people are proud of their country and most will do whatever they can to watch out for each other. We've seen how the people of this country associate with each other and we see how they don't want their culture disrupted. One of the things I looked most forward to about this trip was getting to experience the culture and I have definitely gotten to see some very neat pieces of it. When we were working outside at the school we met a few local 11-12 year old boys who came to check out what we were doing. The one boy, Esteban, came over and asked to use one of our tools that we were using to dig. He joked around and instructed us on how we were doing it all wrong. We later managed to have a conversation with him and his friends which somehow transitioned into doing Gangnam Style together (they knew the song and the dance very well). Getting to hang out with and talk to kids that live in the local area was especially cool. They were so friendly and so open with us.
Being with the kids of the orphanage continues to be one of my favorite parts of the day. The kids are so sweet and so much fun to be around. They love my camera and had a new obsession with wanting to take pictures of their own today. It's scary for the owners of the cameras trying to make sure they don't get broken, but still fun all the same.
Talking and listening with everyone from the trip, we all have had our eyes opened to another lifestyle. This is the biggest reason we have come down here. We could easily send the money we use to get here to donate to the orphanage, but being here lets us go back and tell people in our home country and town about what we saw and why there is a need to help not only the Dominican Republic, but other places with even worse poverty. It's about seeing with your own eyes another side of the world that we don't experience anywhere in the United States and getting a better appreciation for the things we have. People spend too much time complaining about such minor things, but until you see how people in true poverty live you don't have a true understanding of just how lucky you are.