We have officially made it to day five! I can say that I finally feel like I am getting the hang of things in the Dominican Republic. Today we visited the school of public health at the University of Autonoma. We had the opportunity to listen to a presentation from the Director of the school of public health, Dr. Pena. She gave us insight into the public health system of the DR. What we learned is that up until 2001 the DR had no public health system. There was no infrastructure in place for community health and wellness. She also shared it took them 15 years to implement and regulate their system to the public. The Dr is in the very beginning stages of creating the public health system the Dominican Republic needs.
After her lecture, we took a brief tour of the rest of the University. Their campus reminds me a lot of the college campuses we have in the United States (but more tropical). There are students all around socializing and commenting to their destinations. What stuck out to me were the many murals we passed on campus. They were all beautifully painted and brought so much life to the school.
This mural, in particular, was my favorite. It is located outside the library building. I loved the contrast of colors and style of painting. It looked like a beautiful mosaic art piece.
Another part of the day that I enjoyed was our walk to Baskin Robins to get some ice-cream! It was fun walking down the street with my classmates. We also tackled a few challenges such as communicating with store workers without a translator and crossing the streets without any DR native guide to assist us. Those two things may not seem like much, but it is much harder to communicate with others of a different language, especially if you grew up in the spoiled United States.Also, the driving in the DR will have you on edge! Their style of driving is more aggressive rather than defensive/passive driving we have back at home, so it was scary trying to maneuver through traffic without being hit by a car. However, we accomplished both tasks gracefully.
We ended the day with a seminar with the CEO of Esperanza, Alexandra. She was very influential to my classmates and me. She helped identify some hidden beliefs I didn’t know I had. She talked about following her heart and doing what she felt right inside, and for her that was micro-financing. She works with people on the island to help them extreme highs and lows of income. She also assists with financial education on how to save and generate income by themselves. With her program, she is helping to stabilize many families and businesses. My favorite part of her talk was when she asked us what poverty was to us. We all answered with responses about low income, being homeless, being jobless, being dependent, etc. Then she explained that when she asked a group of people, we would consider being in poverty the same question they responded with answers such as “having no happiness,” “having no joy,” and “being without their family.” That will be something I remember forever. That was the moment I realized that these people do not feel sorry for themselves, and I shouldn’t either. The first few days here I had so much empathy for the people living here but what they have been teaching me is the importance of resilience. The importance of non-tangible value. They are teaching me to hold more value in things that I cannot buy. I cannot buy my family or love. You cannot buy true happiness. They are all things earned and acquired through relationships with others and the relationship with yourself. That is the true meaning of success.