Journalism major Ambar Javier studied abroad in the Dominican Republic on the Higher Education in the Dominican Republic: Access, Equity and Opportunity education abroad program during winter break 2019.
Although my trip was disrupted by the flu, my time in The Dominican Republic taught me more about my culture than anything else. I was motivated to apply for the study abroad trip as soon as I scrolled upon it on the ODI website. After applying and being nervous about getting admitted into the program, I was ecstatic to find out that I was going to have this life-changing opportunity.
To begin, the trip humbled me more than anything else. It forced me to compare how different my life would have been if I were to have stayed in the country where I was born in, the Dominican Republic. How different my health, standard of living, and especially my education would have been were some thoughts that constantly ran through my mind while we rode on our little blue bus to our next destination. Although growing up I craved that cultural connection that I might've had while growing up in the Dominican Republic, I am very grateful for the life and opportunities I was given in the United States.
Next, I'd like to mention that although the United States is more advanced than the DR, there were a lot of parallels between the two countries that we noticed while on the trip. For instance, racism. Racism is still very prevalent in both countries, especially when analyzing racism within the education systems. The darker your skin is in the Dominican Republic the less likely you are to have access to a good, quality, education, which is true for a lot of communities within the United States as well.
A significant aspect of the trip that stuck with me is how deeply institutional racism in the Dominican Republic really is. Learning about the laws that prevent Haitians, who have only known the Dominican Republic as home, from becoming citizens was astonishing. It made me wonder who is letting this happen. Who is signing off on this? And who is staying quiet about it? It seems as if those who see wrong in this have no faith in the ability for it to change. Leaving with this note was very disheartening and forced me to think about Las Hermanas Mirabal once again.
Although everyone was hearing of Trujillo doing terrible things to people and instilling this great fear, it seemed like no one was able to speak up. It wasn't until three young mothers died a horrible death that a change happened, and it is almost sickening to think that something that grave might need to happen in order to initiate change.