Stand UP Dominican Republic: Humidity, Food, & Intro to the Program

Dear parents,
What a whirlwind the past 24 hours have been! We started off by joining our two groups when we arrived here in the Dominican Republic. We met our tour guides, Adonis & Junior who taught us about some of the geography on our two-hour bus ride to Ali’s Surf Camp. The humidity is no joke but we’re doing a great job of staying hydrated! Once we arrived at Ali’s we were greeted by a bunch of friendly dogs and a great dinner of rice, eggplant, vegetables and you guessed it – more water.
We settled in for the night in our rooms for a good night sleep. The mosquito nets are a big change of pace from home but we’re glad we can sleep knowing that we will wake up bite-free. Breakfast consisted of fried eggs, boiled eggs, fresh-cut fruits, crepes, yogurt, and granola bars. The camp keeps a gigantic jug of freshwater on hand at all times.
We started our morning with Stacy from The Dream Project talking about the summer slump that kids face here and how they program to keep the kids constantly learning. We spent the rest of the morning doing a group learning activity to learn all about the Dream project and the wide range of programs and services they provide to the community to promote education. Adonis and Junior, our amazing guides from the Dream project, led some icebreakers and then we packed up our bus to head out.
We went to lunch at a comedor which is a casual and common type of restaurant in the DR. We ate a delicious spread of chicken and fish, rice and beans, vegetables, salad and a new food for many of our teens, tostones, fried plantains. Afterward, we went to the Dream school campus in Cangrejo, where we will be completing our service project throughout our time here. We became oriented with the school and got to help with their afternoon session of camp. Later, after some free time at our hotel, we walked to a nearby hotel for dinner which is situated on the beach. It provided a great photo opportunity during Golden Hour and sunset. When we got back to our accommodation, we all had free time and many teens took the opportunity to enjoy the pool and cool down. We all got to enjoy some birthday cake for Margo’s birthday. 
TUES: After an early breakfast, we headed back to Cangrejo to spend the morning working at camp. We all got to practice our Spanish by making new friends with the campers and participating in all the activities. Some of the activities are sports, theatre, reading, and writing. After another lunch at the comedor, we headed to Batey Caraballo to learn about the Dominican and Haitian relationship and see some of the neighborhoods where people from both countries live together. The Dream project has a Montessori school in one of the neighborhoods, so we were able to tour it and understand its impact on the local community. Upon returning back to Ali’s surf camp, we had time to relax, swim and get ready for dinner. We ate dinner at our accommodation, which was a delicious local dish called Churrasco (barbecued, thin flank steak with a dark sauce). To end the evening, we split up into smaller groups to reflect, recap and debrief on our experiences so far, how we’re feeling, and the impact all of our service and learning has made. 
All of our teens have been adjusting so well and have been very engaged in all the programming. Everyone has done a great job of stepping outside of their comfort zones, whether it’s trying a new food or making a new friend. We are so proud of them and lucky to be working with such an all-star group of participants. We’re all looking forward to spending more time with our new friends at camp and enjoying more delicious Dominican food. 

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