Over winter break, I traveled to the Dominican Republic to study environmental sustainability. Throughout the week, we received many lectures about how the country of the Dominican Republic and its people are taking on sustainable development. In addition, we learned about the current status of the country and what efforts were needed to be taken in order to address the current issue presenting the people.
Throughout this trip, I learned much about myself and found myself beginning to grasp a deeper global awareness. I realized how beautiful others’ cultures are, and that the differences between my own culture and theirs are to be celebrated. There is no right or wrong way to live a happy life, and the people of the Dominican Republic were living their own version of a happy life. This to me was beautiful and I found myself appreciating others and their lifestyles. Another experience that transformed my way of thinking was how beautiful the nature was there. The people of the Dominican Republic are proud of the land they live in, and as much as they want to protect their land, they are just not given the opportunity to learn about the necessary sustainable steps to take in order to combat global issues, such as unsafe drinking water.
I believe that the moments that transformed me the most was traveling through the cities of lower income and seeing the conditions in which they live. It was a definite form of culture shock for me, and really made me question the privileges that I hold. This trip also allowed me the opportunity to realize that the way that the people of the Dominican Republic live their life, although very different from American life, is not a “bad” or “wrong” way to live. I found myself making the mistake of holding American culture as a global standard, which is a dangerous assumption to hold. Because of this trip, I now have a better global awareness.
Another moment that transformed me was when we visited the factories that they run there. For example, when we visited the coffee plant, where they sort all of their beans and roast them in order for them to be ready to be made into coffee. The way that they ran their factory was admirable. It was a very small building, and most of the work was done by hand, although they did have machines as well to assist with the tedious work. It was amazing to see the passion of the factory workers who were doing the handiwork. It makes you appreciate the work that is now replaced by machines in America, and how the job still gets done and the product is still made.
I am extremely grateful for this experience, it allowed me to increase my global and cultural awareness. I believe that the experiences that I had in the Dominican Republic have made me into a better, more educated woman, and that the knowledge I gained will help me in academic and professional settings. Being a more culturally aware person helps you navigate diverse settings, which is an extremely important quality to exercise in your every day life.