Sly Worthy Jr. is a junior social work major and studied abroad on the Higher Education in the Dominican Republic: Access, Equity and Opportunity study abroad program during winter break 2019.
Excited, nervous, scared. Those were the emotions I felt when I found out I was accepted into the program, and they lasted throughout. This program was truly transformational. I was surprised by the amount of personal growth I achieved. Prior to this trip I had not been on a plane or traveled outside of the country. This study abroad process of getting my passport, understanding how to pack and navigating the airports are necessities for my future. I was terrified of heights and during this experience alone I went on four flights and a cable car.
My favorite part of the trip was learning about the Mirabal Sisters. It was truly inspiring learning how they relentlessly dedicated their lives for social change and rising up against Trujillo. Throughout my experience we learned how traditional the Dominican Republic is, especially in gender roles. For this reason, it was even more impressive how the whole country rallied around these three sisters. They were on their currency (200 peso bill), they were in all the museums we visited including their houses, they had a monument of the three sisters in Santiago and butterflies that represented them were everywhere. Throughout the trip I grew to see a strong parallel between how Haitians were treated in the Dominican Republic compared to how African Americans were treated in the United States. During our trips to schools I feel like the Haitian students were often tokenized by Dominicans just as Black people are in the United States.
I really enjoyed this trip and bonding with Miss Stephanie, Grace and Dr. Moore. I think often times as students we remove faculty and staff members away from reality and think of them of them as people that are not personable. I feel like I was able to see the trip leaders as more personable, and many students would agree with me. They all really treated us like their own and provided humor and words of wisdom on the way. I have to give a special shout out to Miss Stephanie for really sticking by me and encouraging me while getting on the cable car. I remember in the Columbus Airport a worker asked me was that my mother, and I told him no, and we all laughed and grinned. We came into the trip barely knowing each other, and when we left, Miss Stephanie actually felt like a mother to me. This was huge for me as I lacked this compassion and empathy growing up. This experience and trip was truly transformational, and I feel like we came in friends and left a family.