HOS Symposium Spring Break 2017 Trip

Welcome to the HOS Symposium trip blog! As part of the yearlong program on The Caribbean, students and faculty will embark on a 12-day journey to learn about cultural landmarks and the history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

March 18 - Depart from U.S. to Santo Domingo
March 19 - Walking tour of Colonial City, guest panel in afternoon, and salsa lessons at night
March 20 - Morning visit to Carole Morgan School and St. Michaels School, afternoon tour of slave plantations
March 21 - Travel to Barahona and afternoon hike
March 22 - Travel to Jaraboca Women's Cooperative to learn about environmental sustainability and leadership
March 23 - Service work at Jaraboca Women's Cooperative, afternoon hike to waterfall, and bachata lessons at night
March 24 - Morning drive to Cap-Haitien, Haiti
March 25 - Cathedral tour, school visit, and impact of 2010 earthquake
March 26 - Morning drive to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and visit to Marioposa Foundation
March 27 - Plantation and slavery site tours, afternoon service learning in Cabriete
March 28 - Reflections and takeaways; last night in Puerto Plata Village
March 29 - Return to U.S.

Day 11


Today we volunteered at the Mariposa Foundation. We played sports and made paper mache crafts with the girls at the organization who are aged 8 to 12. They were competitive in softball especially. We also worked on signs for the garden to indicate and inform visitors about all of the key parts of a tropical garden in both English and Spanish. The signs included text for a pineapple patch. It was tricky to draw with sharpies on oil paint, but everyone tried hard to succeed.

The food at lunch was especially memorable because most of us haven't had American spaghetti in a long time. After volunteering, we went to the beach for a 90 minute surfing lesson. There were a few students who were experienced in surfing, but most of us were new to the sport. The instructors were dedicated to helping us and teaching us the basics. In the end, everyone was able to stand on the surfing board. Everyone enjoyed the experience very much, and it was certainly a day that will not be forgotten.

Thomas and Helenna

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Wednesday March 29, 2017
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Day 10

Today, we ate breakfast at 8 a.m. at the Blue Moon Reserve after our first night there. After a 30 minute breakfast, we left for the Mariposa Foundation, which was roughly 25 minutes away. We arrived at the Mariposa Foundation at around 9 a.m. to greet Patricia, the Director of the Mariposa Foundation. She gave us a brief overview of the foundation, its purpose, and its goals.


Patricia then introduced us to Sarah Andersen, a volunteer coordinator and group trip leader at the foundation. She acted as our tour guide and gave us further background about the girls who are part of the Mariposa Foundation. She then showed us one of the more prominent neighborhoods where the girls reside. Afterwards, we drove back to the center and met Amanda and Christian, who are also volunteers. They showed us the garden so we could understand the importance of education through nature.

We learned about some of their DIY compost projects and then we started on a sign painting project to provide information on the plants and their many purposes to visitors. We also researched the benefits of the plants grown at the organization. After putting out our signs to dry, we headed to the beach. We spent about two hours relaxing, swimming, shopping, and snacking.


Once back at the Reserve, we ate dinner and started the 5Cs activity. We talked in depth about Dominican and Haitian relations as well as their perspectives on each other. We also touched on how LFA handles global issues. After running away from quite a few bugs, we all retired to our cabins for a goodnight's sleep.

Stephanie and Caitlin

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Wednesday March 29, 2017
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Day 9


As it is our day to go back to Dominican Republic, we all got up early and had breakfast before leaving the hotel around 9:30 a.m. The ride to the border was a little over an hour, and we got there around 11 a.m. We went through immigration, which was easy because there weren't that many people, and then we walked over the bridge into the DR. We switched back to Dominican bus and rode it for 4 hours until we got to the Blue Moon Retreat Center in Puerto Plata, our final destination for the next 3 nights.

On our way to Puerto Plata, we stopped for lunch at the Chic Hotel and stayed there for about an hour and a half. We got to the retreat center at around 6 p.m. We were welcomed by the lady in charge and she explained a couple of rules to us. The most important rule is to deposit toilet paper in trash cans and not into the toilet. This is because the paper might block the ceramic or cement drainage systems.

We were then given our roommate assignments and room keys. 5 girls will be in one large room, 4 girls will be in 2 rooms, and the 3 boys in 1 room as usual. We put our stuff in our rooms and then went to get dinner. Some of us then went to change and go to the pool to play games and have a good time. Other students went back to their rooms to relax. Today was not a very exciting day, but all in all a nice, relaxing one.

Jessica & Teni

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Monday March 27, 2017
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Day 8

Yesterday was our second day in Haiti. We started off the morning with breakfast at our beautiful hotel, which overlooks the entire city of Cap Haitian. After breakfast, we took a small "hike" down the road that led us to the buses down below. We referred to it as a "hike" because the road was very steep, but it was also short. Along the road were houses and tons of people. We saw many women in the houses doing household chores such as laundry and taking care of the kids. Meanwhile, the men on the street were doing other types of work. This gave us a dynamic of how their households work and who plays what roles.

When we finally made it to the buses, we made a long trip to a very historical spot in Cap Haitian, Haiti: Citadel Fort. The fort was used to protect Haitians against the French in times of war. In order to get to the spot, we had to drive up very steep and narrow roads as we were going up a mountain. When we finally made it halfway, (or to the point where we could no longer drive and had to walk), we were greeted by a large amount of street vendors selling items such as hats, jewelry, etc. After we got off the buses, we started our "second hike" for the day up the mountain. As a group, we took our time making our way up the steep path. The farther we went up, the more magnificent the view became. We took many breaks as it was very hot.

While going up the mountains, we saw that there were some houses where people sold souvenirs, and people playing musical instruments. The walk up the mountain was tough, but we finally made it to the top in about 40 minutes. The view from the top of the mountain, where the fort was, was breathtaking. Our tour guide gave us Haitian bananas as we rested. The bananas were very small, but very sweet and quite delicious. After this short, but much needed break, we made our way into the fort. It was very cool as most of it was intact and just as it was many years ago.


Our tour guide explained the historical significance of it and showed us all around the fort. Inside, there were the original cannons that were used in the war. After our tour of the entire fort, we made our way back the mountain. This was a much shorter trip as most of it was spent lightly jogging (or running) down the steep roads since gravity took over! We drove back down the rest of the mountain and made a short stop at Sans-Souci Palace. We didn't go in, and instead viewed it from afar while our tour guide explained its historical significance.

After this, we made our way back to the hotel and took a second little hike of the day to go to our hotel. We were greeted with a bunch of delicious sandwiches for lunch. We then all went for a refreshing swim in the hotel pool that overlooked the city. We had a lot of fun at the pool and it was a great way to cool us down! After hours of swimming, we had a tasty authentic Haitian dinner with rice, beans, and chicken.

Then we had an opportunity to talk to Amos, Mr. Lekuton's great Haitian friend, about the history of Haiti and the relationship between Haiti and the DR. We learned that many of the people who were born in the DR with Haitian immigrant parents were not being recognized as Dominican citizens. In addition, since they were born in DR, they are also not recognized as Haitian citizens. It was sad to learn what these people were going through and how there was not yet a solution for it. Our talk was a great way to end the night and many of us made our way back to our rooms right after to catch some sleep. Overall, we had a great experience in Haiti, and we learned so much about the culture and country from a new viewpoint.

Adrianna & Jade
Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Monday March 27, 2017
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Day 7

Today, we left the women's corporative around 9:30 a.m. to begin our new journey to Haiti. Along the way, we stopped at a cultural center in Santiago named Centro Leon and ate at the cafe. Besides its great food, Centro Leon was special because it was built from cigar profits.


We left Centro Leon at 2 p.m. and continued to travel to the border. When we arrived at the border, it was very crowded which caused lots of concern, but fortunately, we made it through. We all gathered in two vans in order to drive to the hotel. During the ride, our guide, Mr. Amos, informed us on the history of Haiti and how it affects modern day international relations and education in Haiti. After about two hours, we arrived at Cap. Haitian. We thought that all of our worries were over until we found out that our vans had to drive up a steep hill to get to the hotel. We were all very anxious; at one point, one of the drivers stopped on the hill and one group had to walk the rest of the distance to the hotel.

It was great to visit Haiti because we had a different picture of the country when we were in the DR. The country was not dry as we were told. Seeing is believing. Once everyone arrived at the beautiful hotel, we ate dinner, hung out and went to sleep.

Shaliya & Jazmin

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Monday March 27, 2017
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Day 6


We started off the day by doing community work. We were separated into two groups. One was for painting a sign for the road and the other group was planting plants. That lasted for four very long hours. After that, we had nice homemade snacks from the women's cooperative.

We then went for a hike, searching for a nice waterfall. We first stopped at a river which did not have the waterfall, but we still went swimming. Although the water was freezing, everyone enjoyed cooling off after a very labor intensive experience. We then continued hiking. After a very tough hike, we were all tired but we ended up finding the waterfall. Mr. Lekuton was the first to jump off a large rock into, once again, freezing water. This action made it easier for people to build up courage, and jump just as he did. Even Ms. Chen leaped despite her fear of heights. As we continued to jump, the rain became heavier and heavier.

We hiked back up to the bus, and although it was difficult to pass the many obstacles that the rain created, everyone would likely agree that it added to the experience. This moment will be one that we will remember forever, and one that we will share with our close family and friends.

Louis & Cameron

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Friday March 24, 2017
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Day 5

Today we left Santo Domingo to Jarabacoa. The road was winding through the mountains but we were able to reach the expedition-based school Doule Expeditionary. They do two themes a year, and all their subjects are related to the topics. For example, they are currently doing immigration for their fifth grade topic. They not only did a lot of research on examples like Ellis Island, but also had field trips in order to experience of the process of immigration.

After the school, we drove about 45 minutes into the mountains. We arrived at the woman's corporative and we were greeted by a breathtaking view of rural Dominican Republic. After taking in the view, we began our 300 step descent into the camp. After taking a tour from a leader of the corporative, we explored the surrounding area near the Yaque River. Our group then ate a meal cooked by the women and had some reflection of the trip so far. The day was one of the most eventful of the trip so far, despite the 3 hour drive from Santo Domingo to Jarabacoa.

Helenna & Thomas

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Friday March 24, 2017
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Day 4


Today we toured three slave plantations in near San Cristobal, DR. The first one was called Parque de engombe (in the bantu language, which means places for cattles). It used over 4000 slaves to produce molasses. It started in the early 16th Century.

Next we toured Ingenio Diego Caballero, which used 6,000 slaves. Finally we toured Boca Nigua, which operated in both the 17th and 18th centuries and used over 3,000 slaves. This one had the most “modern” production and drying facilities. We were accompanied by Joaquin Mendez and Ms. Martha Roquel, who is an architect and has a Masters in archeology and teaches at Catholic University. Mr. Roquel has been working since the 1990s to restore and preserve these sites. With her help, we were able to understand and learn about life back then in those plantations.


After leaving the last plantation, we dropped off Ms. Roquel and Mr. Mendez and had a quick lunch at McDonalds. We drove about an hour to the Juan Dollio beach, where we enjoyed the warm water and met new people. Some people even got their hair braided by some local vendors. After enjoying about two hours there, we hopped back onto the bus and went back to the hotel. We ate dinner and some people went to ride bikes and shop. The whole day was very fun and extremely memorable.

Stephanie & Caitlin

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Wednesday March 22, 2017
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Day 3


At 9:15 a.m., we went to Casas Reales, but it wasn't open because it was working on "Dominican Time." We waited for Mr. Nink and Ms. Chen to get water while Louis and Jazmin messed around and gave us an acrobatic show.

At 9:50 a.m., we started our visit to a community center that helps with women's rights in situations of domestic violence. We discussed gender roles in the DR and how it affects women in the country. We learned many facts about the situation here in the DR.


By 11:50 a.m., we were on our way to Carol Morgan School. It was like LFA in the DR. They had kids from all over Latin America and the US. It's a K-12 school that only has a day program. It also offers SSL: Spanish a Second Language. First, we took a tour of the school and had lunch in the cafeteria. Then, we met with a history class composed of juniors and seniors. We split up into 4 groups to discuss immigration in both the DR and USA. We made friends through this and some side conversations!


At around 3:20 p.m., we headed to Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña or UNPHU for short. Our tour guide, Rocio, attends the college. We learned about the law school and how the Dominican school system is different from the US. In the DR, they only have 2 years of high school and then they go to college. College is only 4 years while med school is 6 years and 4 months. Tonight, we are discussing the information we learned from today and how we feel about it.

Teni & Jessica

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Tuesday March 21, 2017
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Day 2

We started off our morning to Santo Domingo centre as early as 8 a.m. The whole day morning was filled with visiting museums and learning about where we are. The first stop was Joaquin's building, where we learned a lot about culture and the ancient history of the city, including information sessions about slaves. Then the next stop was the Columbus House and Museum. We had a self-guided tour using a portable audio speaker that discussed each room's function. The last part of the tour was looking around the church that houses the tombs of all the ancient heirs.

After all the walking and learning, we went have lunch. Adriana and I had the Dominican flag meal, which consisted of rice, beans and a choice of meat. We used the homemade hot sauce, which we considered "stealing" and taking with us since it was so good.

We ended the night with an amazing concert, and we danced with each other and some locals. Afterwards, we took a bike ride around town and stopped to get ice cream. To say the day was fun would be an understatement!

Adriana and Jade

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Monday March 20, 2017 at 05:52PM
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