Thanks to the Ford Motor Company Fund, seven New Look global leaders visited the Dominican Republic, where they conducted Powered by Service leadership trainings for 175 youth from Haiti and Dominican Republic and explore The Four Pillars (talent, education, career & service). Follow their exciting journey below!
Day 1, by Brenda Khor,
UNL Mogul in Training, College of Wooster Senior, Posse Scholar
Waking up as early as 5 am to get to the airport was definitely an exhausting but exciting feeling. Actions such as getting my boarding ticket, passing through security, and waiting at the gate just made me more anxious to get to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. All ten of us made it to the most culturally rich, vibrant, and historic destination in the Caribbean. For some of us, this was the first time we travelled to a different country. There were many tourists, including us, as we were getting through customs. However, I found our group to be different. Our group was more aware of our surroundings. It was that moment when I realized it was natural for us to be curious and observant — we wanted to go beyond the definition of a tourist. Instead, we wanted to learn about Dominican Republic’s culture by integrating and embedding ourselves with the local people.
We met Mariel, a representative from AFS Intercambios Culturales, and she was our tour guide and translator for the day. She took us on a mini tour as we went to our first location to eat. There was salsa music playing in the bus, people walking and conversing with each other in the streets. We started to feel the essence of their culture. At the restaurant, we tried new food that speaks to the Caribbean lifestyle such as mofongo. Mofongo is a dish that has fried plantains as its main ingredient and has combination of various meats and vegetables. Para mi, el sabor es muy único. The reason why it is so unique to me is because their ingredients and cuisines are very fresh and come from local produce. It was very refreshing compared to the food in the United States.
After that, we checked in our beautiful hotel, and then left for another tour. Alongside the ancient cobblestone streets, we saw about sixteen churches in a radius of 10,000 square feet, the Palacio de Arte consisting of concerts and plays, and the Ministries of Education where they show their pride commemorating sports and arts. Two places stuck out to me: Palacio Nacional and Parque Independencia. Both places have so much history that has carried over to their traditions and culture today. The Palacio Nacional is a building that displays the offices of the Executive Branch of their government. Parque Independencia is a park that honors the people who made it possible for their independence to happen. The natives celebrate every February 27th, where they put flowers on their tombs and around the park. Hearing all this information showed me that they have fought and defended for their city for centuries.
While eating lunch and dinner today, we had many impactful dialogues where we spoke about our expectations of the trip, the problems occurring in Dominican Republic in relation to Haiti, the differences between Dominican Republic and the USA, and how we, Usher’s New Look, plan to leave an influence in a more international perspective. It is crazy to believe that in just one day, I am able to see a glimpse of their culture. I look forward to the upcoming days, because the way I think will change and hopefully, that will help me come up with more solutions on how to better serve them, as well as the people in the United States, as a cultural ambassador.
Social Media Highlights from Day 1:
Read Our Student Blogs from the Rest of the Trip!