International Study Program: Location

Dominican Republic / Haiti (2013)

This year, 12 ISP members and long time staff Cidra Sebastien and Nando Rodriguez left on July 2nd for Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Major stops include Santiago, Bonao and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and Cap-Haitian, Hinche and Port-au-Prince in Haiti.

Members will visit universities and schools in both countries. In Dominican Republic, members will have a briefing at the US Embassy in Santo Domingo and have an overnight at a community center at a bateye (migrant farmer community) on the border of Haiti and DR. Members will stay at the family farm-home of staff facilitator Nando Rodriguez, take dance classes, and visit the former home – now museum for the Mirabal Sisters – four Dominican sisters who joined the resistance movement against dictator Trujillo during the 1950s.

In Haiti, members will visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and several youth organizations including UHelp and Little Rascals of Croix-Deprez. Members will also visit the MPP/Movman Peyizan Papay, a group of farmers using unique irrigation process. Upon their return, members will complete their final projects and install a photo exhibit on the first floor of the brownstone.

Reflections

When we got to the Mirabal Sisters* museum, we took pictures and walked around the beautiful property. When our tour began, we were taken through the recreation of each sister’s room. The clothing and other objects were things that the Mirabal sisters wore or were important to them. For example in Patria’s room there was a mannequin with her wedding dress. It was so beautiful. For me it was important to see their personal items because it showed another side of their lives not just their political activity.

They each had different interests and were still politically active. The museum shows all of who they were. [* The Mirabal Sisters – Minerva, Patria and Maria Teresa – came from a middle class family in Salcedo, DR. They organized against the reign of General Trujillo and his dictatorship. Because of their political activity, they were rutalized and beaten to death. The mariposa, or butterfly, is seen throughout Salcedo in remembrance of the sisters.]

Angelica Muñoz

Somos

Today was not what I expected it to be. Our morning started off with a 20 minute bus ride to Labadie beach near Cap Haïtien. We were the only ones on the Royal Caribbean resort due to the weather; because we could not stay at this resort, we took a boat to this mini strip of sand located near a restaurant on the beach.

Upon exiting the boat, I wasted no time hopping in the water. After adjusting to the sub zero temperature of the Atlantic Ocean, my day was made! Swimming in clear ocean water is something that I love since its not possible to do in New York. Just seeing the deep ocean blue color gives me a good feeling. Although torrential & perpetual rain has haunted us every afternoon since we arrived on Hispañola, I really appreciated the bonding time that we had on this beach. The chemistry in this group is really strong. I hope that for the next 17 days, we will remain at the level we are at.

Neal Crawford

Liberation Program

Today we visited Yvon’s school, Sarazin, up in the mountains. I was excited about it because I really enjoy meeting the children in Haiti. The day started off a little slow because we were suppose to meet another organization called little rascals but, because of complications, we weren’t able to, that’s when we decided to go to Yvon’s school. We drove for about a half hour and then we had to walk up a mountain. The hike was about 20 minutes and it was a little difficult. We were able to see what these kids go through to get an education and what their willing to do to get it. When we got there they sang us a beautiful welcome song.

After that we learned about their school and they learned about BroSis. I sat next to three little kids that were very shy and adorable. I started to draw pictures on a piece of paper and they started to smile and laugh. Then I asked them if they wanted to draw as well but they were hesitant; eventually they started to draw and started to smile. I liked that they were drawing but it made me feel down because they all drew pictures of sad faces. Although their faces were smiling the picture said something else. Over all the whole day was a great bonding and learning experience with the children.

Kayla Ramirez

Soul Apoyo

Today was a chill day. The Bro/Sis family met up with an organization called H.E.L.P. which stands for Haitian Education and Leadership Program. We had an exchange with some of the college kids, and learned more about their lives growing in Haiti, and they learned more about our experience growing up in New York. We shared a lot of similarities and differences. We discussed bad influences like drugs, gangs and negative vibes, as well as the positive impact of our organizations in our lives. After the meeting with H.E.L.P., we attended a capoeira class at another organization. It brought back so many memories from when I went to ISP last summer to Brazil.

I love capoeira, I love the music and I love the culture of it. The sound of the berimbao is music to my ears. I actually jumped into the ring and played capoeira with Meagan, the director of H.E.L.P. and it was awesome. They made me pull out my Jenga and my kicks. I kicked her in the face by accident and I didn’t get to apologize. So Meagan if you read this – I am sorry. Besides that it was really cool and she was really good. This is our last night in Haiti and I am going to miss this place. Haiti is so very beautiful and I loved every single minute of it. I really connected with Yvon, Kiki, Samuel, and Renel. I’m gonna miss you, Uncle Yvon. I’m also going to miss my big brother Kiki. Ahhh man – good times.

Nolin Castro

Legacy

Today, three people went to see family members who live in Santo Domingo, therefore the rest of us went for a day at the Salina beach. Although the beach looked like a deserted ghost land in comparison to our day at Boca Chica, we soaked in the sun and collected shells. Overall, this trip is great.

This will be something that I will never forget – going to Haiti and the Dominican Republic at 14 years old. Many people older than me haven’t even stepped foot out of New York so for me, I see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity. The biggest accomplishment for me was crossing the Haitian border. I never thought I would go to Haiti in my life and now I can’t wait to get a chance to go back.

Tomme Garvin

D.R.E.A.M

Today we visited Yvon’s school, Sarazin, up in the mountains. I was excited about it because I really enjoy meeting the children in Haiti. The day started off a little slow because we were suppose to meet another organization called little rascals but, because of complications, we weren’t able to, that’s when we decided to go to Yvon’s school. We drove for about a half hour and then we had to walk up a mountain.

The hike was about 20 minutes and it was a little difficult. We were able to see what these kids go through to get an education and what their willing to do to get it. When we got there they sang us a beautiful welcome song. After that we learned about their school and they learned about BroSis. I sat next to three little kids that were very shy and adorable. I started to draw pictures on a piece of paper and they started to smile and laugh. Then I asked them if they wanted to draw as well but they were hesitant; eventually they started to draw and started to smile. I liked that they were drawing but it made me feel down because they all drew pictures of sad faces. Although their faces were smiling the picture said something else. Over all the whole day was a great bonding and learning experience with the children.

Kayla Ramirez

Soul Apoyo