Social Justice in Hispanola

The first word that comes to mind about the 10 day study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic is eye opening. Our experience in the DR was unlike any experience I have ever had. We began the class speaking about dominant versus non-dominant groups within the context of ourselves, but then saw how these groups played out in the Dominican Republic with our own eyes. 
I realized that although we were submerging ourselves head first into their culture, our experience was only temporary in the end. It’s always difficult to put yourself in a new experience, especially when it’s one you know that you are not actually in. It came back to the privilege that follows us everywhere we go, even if we try to push it aside. 
The part of the learning journey that stuck out to me the most were the similarities between the United States and countries abroad. I feel as though I do everything I can to not be stuck in an ethnocentric mentality, yet I can’t immediately see the similarities as easily as I can see the differences. 
We learned about tragedies that occurred within the region, which ultimately did not sound unfamiliar to me. We live through these same situations in our own country. The trip to the DR opened my eyes to cultural conflicts between the Haitians and Dominicans, while also being able to see the beautiful landscapes that were all over the island. 
It was a trip that had the beautiful and the ugly, which made it so much more powerful than just going on a vacation there. We were able to uncover the hidden truths in plain sight, as professors promised we would. It was truly a life-changing experience. I hope more people get the opportunity to live through something like this, breaking the mental barriers we have with our country versus those that surround us.