It's Mango Season!

Published: May 3rd 2012
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Leader StrollLeader StrollLeader Stroll

Julia and I stroll around the fortress walls of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Buenos Tardes,

Well, I am back on the road again! Except this time I am responsible for eight 11th graders from The Compass School (the high school I attended.) After a slight travel mishap we arrived in Santiago, Dominican Republic last night. At this very moment, I am feeling incredibly refreshed. I just showered and changed my clothes for the first time in 72 hours. For future reference: DON'T FLY AMERICAN AIRLINES. When I say slight travel mishap, I mean there was a mechanical problem on our first flight which made us miss our flight to Santiago. It only took me singing two bars of West Side Story for the students to excitedly realize where we were headed. We decided to be re-routed to San Juan, Puerto Rico rather then spend the night in Miami. So far, this has been the spirit of the trip. While traveling, you have to roll with the punches and these students have embraced that motto to the fullest.

So on we flew to Puerto Rico, bagless yet ready for an adventure. We explored Old San Juan the following morning, welcoming the warm caribbean rain and sipping Pina Coladas (virgin) until we had to
Entertainment by ChrisEntertainment by ChrisEntertainment by Chris

As we sort out baggage disruptions, Chris gives an impromptu performance.
get on our final flight to Santiago, D.R. Upon arrival, we discovered that American Airlines had no records of our baggage. So once again, we continued on to our hotel, carrying what little possessions we had on our bodies. It's been a great lesson in what one really needs to survive. These students are champions and I am so thankful to be traveling with such an understanding group.

Weaving through the traffic towards the heart of the city, we've been bombarded with political advertisement chaos. The presidential elections will be held May 20th and this city in the full swing of campaign trails. Every pole, wall and even some cars are declaring their support for one of the candidates. We even saw an SUV laden with sexily clad women hanging out the windows, dancing to a political reggaeton song about "Coming to Papa" (one of the candidates slogans.) Needless to say, that was hilarious.

This morning we visited a high school and watched a group of students give a presentation on HIV/AIDS to their peers. One of our students, a very theatrical young man, gave us a dramatic introduction in Spanish, which was received with fervor from their Dominican peers. Afterwards, the students played a game of frisbee that soon changed into a dancing circle, into which we were all thrown to shake our butts around in. We left the high school amidst hugs, good wishes and thank you's from both parties. I listened in the cramped cab ride back to city streets as the students discussed what a surprisingly awesome time they had.

Their enthusiasm is echoing my own delight in this experience. I feel as if I have come full circle and I could not have arrived at a more perfect time. I can so clearly remember traveling to India with the Compass School and really needing the support of my trip leaders. Having just finished a rocky and eventful seven-year stretch to graduate from college, I feel honored to be in this role as a leader. I am looking forward to being there for these students as so many people have been supportive of me in my travels. I feel blessed to be able to watch these young travelers discover the pure bliss of being on the road. I know so deeply how my own travels have shaped the person I have become. I
Dance SessionDance SessionDance Session

At a high school in Santiago
can't wait to see what this adventure brings next and what lessons this new role as a leader has to offer. Thanks to everyone for their continued support of my constant wanderings.

With love,


Additional photos below
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The Monument of HerosThe Monument of Heros
The Monument of Heros

El Grupo minus myself.

4th May 2012

Love this entry Emma. What a great start to your trip (minus the travel trouble, but a good learning experience). It seems like you have a wonderful group of students and they are so lucky to have you and Julia with them! Looking forward to your next blog.

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