Dominican Life: A Cultural Narrative

We have spent the past few days at FLACSO listening to guest lecturers and exploring our course topics of borders, migration, and identity. The diverse backgrounds and differing educational expertise of the lecturers included history, economics, anthropology, and philosophy. Their wealth of knowledge and keen insights have allowed us to challenge our viewpoints on the subject matter and create a more holistic interpretation of the issues at hand. It would seem that even in the warm, sunny, tropical Caribbean, we are unable to escape the ethically charged and ambivalent realities at the core of Paideia.

These realities include the dark history of colonization and its effects on the indigenous populations in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This resulted in the enslavement of Africans for the purpose of economic gain, patterns of migration of Dominicans and Haitians within the island and abroad, the machismo culture and its effects on women, and the domestic political issues. Some of these topics were explored further at the two NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) that we visited. OBMICA is a center that focuses on the observation of migration and social development in the Caribbean. As a think tank, they research for patterns related to migration and the social development that can be used to assist in the creation of governmental policies that would aid the further development of human rights on the island. El Centro Bono specializes in the domestic issues found in the Dominican Republic that include migration, women's rights, and human rights for anyone living in the Dominican Republic. Such visits increased our awareness of these issues and allowed us to have an insight into potential resolutions.

We also had a small excursion yesterday to La Casa Rosada. La Casa is an orphanage for children who are HIV positive. The house is run by Catholic nuns and the children have access to free schooling, healthcare, dental care, and a safe environment. This was a chance to have a firsthand view at the inadequate social structures found in the Dominican Republic. That is to say that while this may be an orphanage, the children here (12 girls and 14 boys) are not truly orphaned in the sense that their parents are alive. Rather, they are orphaned by the fact that they are HIV positive and it is often hard to care for a child with such a condition. Therefore, they are often left at Casa Rosada and later reunited with their families. If not, they have sponsors that take care of them and help them enter into civilian life. This has opened our eyes to realize that such conditions still exist so close to home and that is it important for us to educate ourselves on such realities.

While the rigorous academic portion of our trip has concluded, we will continue to explore our course topics via our expeditions around the Dominican Republic in the next week and a half. We have experienced and seen much, but still understand that there is a finite amount of time to learn an infinite amount of variables that contribute to an equally infinite number of issues.

Lunch at a authentic Dominican restaurant!
Us eating lunch at a authentic Dominican restaurant!
The orphanage that we visited!
A photo from our drive to the orphanage!