10 Days in the Dominican Republic

DSC_0089

DSC_0070

School of Public Health

It’s better known today for baseball and cigars but back in 1492 it was Christopher Columbus who was causing waves.

Columbus had the dubious honor of arriving on the shores of Hispaniola and establishing the first permanent settlement in the New World.

The past is preserved with statues, squares and churches throughout the Colonial capital of Santo Domingo.

Urban life on a Saturday in March is vibrant, exciting, and colorful.

Schools of pigeons chase children with bags of kernel corn. Souvenir vendors hassle tourists to buy plastic religious motifs and coconut hats. Families gather for lunch under cafe umbrellas that spill out onto the cobblestone streets. Stray dogs lumber in the afternoon sun looking for shade.

For the next 10 days I’m here to document another group of passionate volunteer graduate students at the University at Albany, School of Public Health. Last month I traveled to Costa Rica to do the same.

It’s challenging documenting 12 wide-eyed students confront the miserable realities of AIDS, dengue and the impoverished Batay population while juxtaposed with R&R in the world’s best beaches and tourist resorts.