Hello from Santiago! It’s our third day in the Dominican Republic and we are learning more about the culture and people here every day. Today, our group went to a town called La Herradura (The Horseshoe) to administer medical care and work with kids. While our team of doctors and nurses filled prescriptions, I met with some of the local kids where we drew and read.
What has been most shocking and interesting to me is the impact of Western culture on these kids. The first day, I offered a girl in Cuesta Arena my cell phone to play a game after she told me she was tired. Within a minute, she was surrounded by all of the other kids who were clamoring to play next. All of them knew exactly how to play the game and abandoned the art supplies and toys we’d brought in favor of my cell phone. Every day since then, kids come up to me and ask “¿Donde está el celular?” (“Where is your cell phone?”). The kids also love the camera function on my phone, and take videos whenever they aren’t playing games. Some of the kids take our bus to go back home, and when we play American pop music, they know all of the lyrics. The influence of Western culture is the most fascinating and surprising thing I’ve experienced so far.
With Western culture comes Western dominance. The kids and I were playing a game today in which you sit in a circle and throw a disc at a pile of other discs to try and tumble them. One of the girls I’ve befriended would pass all of the discs out and set everything up, after which she would say “la Americana primera” to no objection. If one of the younger kids did protest, the other boys would reaffirm her and encourage me to continue. When I tried to switch the rotation so my friend could go first, all of the kids, including her, would tell me no. The impact of Western culture (of which Western superiority is a given) is profound and stark in the Dominican Republic. I am excited to continue to observe this influence and try to learn its origins.