October 13, 2011

24/17: Dominican Republic

Adriana Diaz talks with a teen living in this island country.

Eugenia: Hello. My name’s Eugenia. I live in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is great because of its diversity. You can see, you can go from the coconut trees in the white sand to one of the highest mountains in the Caribbean. There’s also arid zones. There’s places where there’s a lot of vegetation and the farm, the animals, and it’s just amazing.

Adriana: The Dominican Republic is a spanish-speaking country in the Caribbean that shares an island with Haiti. It is a popular tourist spot, which is why more than a million Americans visited the country last year. It is a developing country, with nearly half the population living on less than $2 a day, below the poverty line.

Many Domincans come to the U.S. looking for a better life. According to the Census Bureau, there are more than a million Dominicans living in the U.S., including some familiar faces.

Eugenia: Famous Dominicans in the U.S., I think, it’s Sammy Sosa. He’s a baseball player. There is also Zoe Saldana and Michelle Rodriguez. They were in Avatar and in Cross Roads.

Americans have this image of the Dominicans as the baseball players, or the people on the beach, or the poverty. But it’s not so black and white. The Dominican ethnicity is so diverse. There was the Spanish people that mixed with the Taino, which were like the native Indians here. There’s also a lot of the African because of the slaves before and there’s also people from different islands that come, so it makes a lot of different people. It makes a melting pot.

There are a lot of Haitian people in the Dominican Republic. They come looking for a better life.

During the earth quake, I was here in Santo Domingo. I didn’t feel it, but my mom felt it. It touched me a lot because my dad is a journalist. My dad has been going there for the last twenty years, so we have a lot of close friends. We actually had some that passed away.

This is my house. Welcome. This is my living room and this is my sister Eleanor and her fiancé, Roman.

So, this is my room. This is Melania. She works here, and those are my books. This is ‘La Fiesta del Chive,’ one of my favorite books. It’s about the Dominican Republic’s history. Talks about when there was a dictator here.

Adriana: Between 1930 to 1961, the Dominican Republic was ruled by a dictator named Rafael Trujillo. He was considered one of the harshest dictators in Latin-American history, responsible for the deaths of more than 50,000.

Eugenia: There was constant terror. People went missing, families were destroyed, people had to get out of the country, people were tortured. It was horrible. My mom’s great uncle was part of the plot to kill Trujillo.

Adriana: After Trujillo was assasinated, the country went through years of political turmoil that even involved the deployment of U.S. troops. The country eventually regained stability and, today, the Dominican Republic is a democracy headed by an elected presdient.

Eugenia: I also have a lot of books in French because I go to a French school, because I’m half French, half Dominican. I also have Wuthering Heights, which is one of my favorite books too. And I have the Harry Potter saga. I have it in French, Spanish and English. So, in French, it’s called Harry Potter et L’ecole de Sourcier. In Spanish, it’s called Harry Potter et La Perla Philosopher. And in English, it’s called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. My brother got for me in England. I think in the United States it’s called the sorcerer’s stone. The books are always better than the movies.

Outside of school, I hang out with friends. I used to tutor a girl and, also, I used to do some modeling — nothing very serious, but I was in two magazines. This is me.

Now, let me show you the rest of my city. When I have free time, I like going for a walk in La Zona Colonial, which is the oldest part of the city. It was built by the Spanish when they first arrived to the island, and it’s very old. This is the El Casa de Colon, which is Christopher Columbus’ son’s house. And sometimes they have events there. It was very old. It was built in the 1500s.

This is my boyfriend, Jaime.

Jaime: Hey.

Eugenia: So, this is the cathedral. It’s the first cathedral of America; it was build when the Spanish first arrived. And right there, you can see the statue of Christobal Colon, which is Christopher Columbus, the man who discovered America.

Adriana: Christopher Columbus spent a lot of time in what is now the Dominican Republic. Some say it was one of his favorite places in the new world.

Eugenia: The music people listen to Bachata, which is like really typical Dominican music. There is also Reggeaton and that’s the music, it comes a lot from Puerto Rico. There’s a lot of Dembo too, and Salsa and Meringue.

“Well, thank you for letting me show you my city, and I hope you enjoyed it. And goodbye, hasta luego!


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