By Kayla Rhoden
Kayla Rhoden joined New Look Atlanta Leadership Academy as a freshman in high school. This year, she matriculated into our Moguls in Training program as a college freshman attending Syracuse University. She is the proud recipient of a 4-year Posse Foundation Scholarship.
Greetings from the Dominican Republic! Today was our first full day in the beautiful capital Santo Domingo and it was filled with knowledge, inspiration, and wonder. With the goal to make a positive impact on ourselves and this country, it was fitting to start our journey by first learning about culture. Culture is the fabric of a community, a broad way to capture the essence of a group of people.
Beginning our day at the American Field Service office, we each had the opportunity to learn the skills to dive into Dominican culture. The American Field Service seeks to transform lives by giving students the opportunity to learn about a new culture through a student exchange program. The people of this organization taught us that in order to understand a country’s culture we must look beyond the aspects of what is noticeable to the eye and seek to understand the history and beliefs that influence the behavior that we see. AFS pushed us to look beyond dress and language and look to the history and other values that are below the surface. They relate this way of thinking to an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg represents the aspects of culture that we see and the expansive iceberg below represents the values of a culture that is not as easily recognizable.
Following our exploration of culture, we continued our journey at the Community Service Alliance office. This program seeks to build community through education and service, two of our pillars that our group is very fond of. The Community Service alliance is unique in that it recognizes that assisting a community solve its biggest issues is beneficial to all parties involved in the project. Our group explored case studies highlighting the issues that many Dominicans are experiencing and were surprised to realize that we have the same issues back home in the United States.
These lessons that we learned in the offices of the American Field Service and Community Service Alliance is exactly what we needed in order to make the most impact during our short time here. If we don’t take the time to learn the culture it is impossible to uplift the people here and assist communities. I am so excited to apply the lessons that I’ve learned throughout my time here to better relate to the people I hope to impact.
Read Our Student Blogs from the Rest of the Trip!