Peering Out Through a Window

8:52 PM

A vignette about my trip to the Dominican Republic and the simple power of opening one’s eyes.

By writing editor, April Owens

Guayacanes, Republica Dominicana

Some people choose to shut out the unknown by building barriers and borders and shutting themselves into their comfort zones. Others choose to jump headfirst into the unknown and ignore any sense of discomfort or doubt they may feel. I choose to look out through a window, so that I may observe the terrain from an outsider’s perspective and give the unknown world the space it needs to naturally unfold before me.

During spring break of my sophomore year, I had the privilege of taking a trip to the Dominican Republic with a group of classmates through an organization called Education First. When I learned about the trip earlier that school year, I jumped at the opportunity because of how relevant the Dominican Republic is to my education. As a young African-American who speaks Spanish, Dominican history and culture reside at the crossroads of my own personal identity.

The Dominican Republic is truly a melting pot. It’s a perfect blend of Hispanic, LatinX, and African/black culture. 

Most of the items on our itinerary warranted long bus rides, so naturally, there was a lot of sitting around. I found that there is so much one can learn about foreign cultures by simply observing from a window. I noticed that in the Dominican Republic, motorcycles and bikes are the main forms of transportation. Driving is an option, unlike the necessity it holds back in Los Angeles.

We drove past small communities and run-down houses. We drove by people affected by poverty, in conditions that typical Americans might see as pitiful. But they didn’t seem to mind at all.

I thought about how their existence is defined by so much more than the split-second image I captured of them from inside of a fleeting tour bus. The images I saw were merely snapshots of the daily lives of Dominican people, and although their lives are drastically different than mine, we’re eerily similar at a fundamental level. 

Suddenly the bus window became a window to another dimension, and suddenly the world was a lot bigger than myself.

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