By Jasmine Pollard
Jasmine is a UNL alum and 2015 graduate of Georgia Southern University. She joined New Look when she was in 7th grade, and today works on staff as our Office Coordinator. When she isn’t doing that, Jasmine’s spark is singing. She is pursuing a career as a full-time musician. You can hear her new single ‘Queen Anyway’ on iTunes and Spotify by searching “Jasmine Pollard”.
Buenos dias from the Dominican Republic! I can’t believe we’ve been here for three days already! The word of the day is Education, the second of UNL’s four pillars. The first stop for the day was Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra, or PUCMM for short. PUCMM is actually the university that our wonderful translator and new UNL family member Mariel is currently studying law at. When we arrived we were greeted by Joshuana, who showed us a video highlighting the school and its impressive history. Afterwards, we went on a tour of the school. I was fascinated by all the artwork that covered the school’s walls, and also by how their classes all have such a hands on approach. Por ejemplo, en la clase de Psycologia, there is a two-way window in the classroom where las estudiantes can view professionals in their field as they take on cases with real patients. We also took pictures in the communications classroom where there was a state of the art broadcasting studio for both television and radio. After visiting the library, architecture classroom, and the mock courtroom we said our goodbyes. We learned how between 1822 and 1844, they did not have a higher education institute, because the Haitians invaded and many people from the Spanish colony on the island left, creating a shortage of teachers.
Despues, visitamos la Liga Munecipal Dominicana where we were given a crash course on how the local government operates. We heard from youth leaders, y Colonel Donato, who is the Vice President of la Liga, y la Directora del Departmento Juventud. After an opportunity to practice our Spanish by telling our hosts about ourselves and UNL, we received certificates por haber participando en el programa “Liga Municipal Abre Sus Puertas”, signed by the Secretary General, and the Youth Director.
For lunch, we visited Zona Colonial where we had been given a tour the day before, and were able to visit the local market and shop with the vendors there. My favorite portion of our day was visiting the National Conservatory where we jammed out with some amazing musicians! I got a chance to sing with the orchestra after we sat in on their rehearsal! Tommy played the drums, and we learned the Merengue, a popular dance here in the Dominican. Our dancing lesson was followed by a tour hosted by F. Javier Vargas Heredia who is la Director del Departmento de Musica Popular del Conservatorio Nacional de Musica. I was surprised to learn that the conservatory is a government institution that is open to all students, free of charge! Javier informed us that in addition to the school being free you do not have to be a citizen of the Dominican Republic to attend, you just have to audition! The school was built after the dictator at the time was invited to Spain for an orchestra and decided that he wanted to create an orchestra here in the Dominican Republic. The land that currently houses the conservatory used to serve as the national zoo, before it was moved to the outskirts of the island.
To end our day, we welcomed our friends from Haiti as we prepared for our Powered By Service training the next day! I left our meeting feeling extremely energized and excited at the prospect of training 180 Dominican youth! We have become so immersed in the culture in the short time we’ve been here, I’m already sad at the prospect of leaving!
Read Our Student Blogs from the Rest of the Trip!