Communication and Ethnography in the Dominican Republic
Hmm, where do I start? Let me just say this was a remarkable experience that will remain with me forever. To be quite honest, I did not expect to learn so much in just a week. From simply sitting on a plane to walking down the street to interacting with kids that did not want to leave my side. This experience taught to me to appreciate the Earth’s creation and human life.
When I arrived to Santo Domingo’s airport, I immediately noticed the shift in privilege and language. It was quite difficult to understand and speak a language I only studied for a short period of time, but I learned the purpose of this trip was for me to get out of my comfort zone and observe a culture different than my own. I wanted to be an ethnographer rather than a tourist throughout this trip. After just two days, I learned a lot about foods, family dynamics, and everyday interactions within the city of Santo Domingo. During our tour of the Colonial Zone, I noticed that many people exchanged their talents for money to meet their basic needs. The Colonial Zone is pedestrian-only street filled with historical monuments, art, music, and Dominican foods. It was awesome, especially during nighttime!
Let’s talk about the food real quick. I appreciated everything that was home cooked! Compared to the U.S, their main dish is typically chicken, rice, beans, and fried plantains while our country is dependent on fast-food. Although I am a picky eater, I wanted to step out of my shell and try new foods in a different country (how often do you get to do that). I highly suggest it for those who are traveling abroad! I promise you that you’ll find a food or dessert that’ll make you crave for once you leave! It’s a bittersweet moment.
Overall, this trip was such an incredible experience and I am more than grateful to have the opportunity to study abroad during my last semester here at Western. It was so rewarding to study with a group I hardly knew who felt just like me and now I’ve formed relationships that seem like I knew them longer than just a week. My advice is to seek opportunities that will build your character, gain a larger perspective of the world, and create memorable experiences with people different from you. There’s so much to learn outside of a classroom setting. This experience reminded me of my purpose.