“I knew that my small donation would make a difference”
“Congrats! You’re a Dream Vacation Grand Prize Winner!” It took a few seconds for me to realize what I was reading. I had taken a Mandarin Foreigner class at the Global Language Network earlier in the year, and as a result, had won a fantasy vacation to the Dominican Republic. After the reality sunk in I was very excited because it was unexpected, and I always wanted to visit the Dominican Republic, a country in a Caribbean Island known for clear, turquoise water, white sand, beautiful people, music and dance such as Meringue, Bachata, and Reggaeton.
I embarked on the eight-day trip to the Dominican Republic on August 10, 2015. The prize included a four-night stay for two in an all-inclusive resort of Gran Bahia Principe. I decided to take my aunt as my companion on my prize vacation.
The luxury resort Gran Bahia is in La Romana, which is about an hour west from Punta Cana, and the establishment is located right next to the beach. When I arrived, I was welcomed by marble floors, friendly staff, and a welcome cocktail; I knew then that I was ready for this vacation.
When I hear the term all-you-can-eat, I am usually prepared for sub-prime quality food, but the food served here was amazing and well presented. I have to admit that this trip was a very different style from the way I usually travel. I am a proud frugal traveler (the cheapest place I have stayed is $0.75 a day in Guatemala) and I usually don’t stay in a nice hotel, let alone a resort. Well, it was the first time I stayed in a luxury resort, and it was a stress-free, nice experience. I was so relaxed, and enjoyed catching up with my aunt on the beach with a cocktail or beer in my hand. The four-day stay went by very quickly, but my adventure didn’t end there; I had decided to stay a few extra days to see the country outside the resort as well.
I relaxed in a hostel for a while, and then took off to check out the beach. The road became sandier as I got closer to the water. The vast view of the green ocean unfolded, and the warm breeze hit my face with the smell of hot sand and salt. There was a liberating sound of waves and serenity that I had forgotten in the busy life in D.C.
For some reason, there were lots of Russian stores in this area. I saw a sign “магазин” which I recognized thanks to the Russian Tourist class I took in Spring 2014. The trip was very interesting in terms of language experience too. I got to practice a little bit of Russian at the Russian store and French with some Haitians. My happiest moment was when someone asked me if I were a Dominican because of my Nicaraguan campo-accent from my Peace Corps service, which also “se comen la S al hablar.” The security guard guy at the Russian store let me take a picture with their parrots.
The vacation had to end and the wonderful time passed so fast. I’d definitely come back to this beautiful country, and I will visit the other side of the country next time.
So, what do you say? You can win an adventure like this if you participate in the sweepstake by donating the deposit for the class. I donated my deposit because it was cheap in the first place, and I had a great time in the courses I had taken with GLN. I was happy to pay such a small amount to receive such a valuable experience! I’d like to see the courses available to people who are interested in learning languages in the future, and I knew that my small donation would make a difference. There are many ways to support GLN, and I encourage you to support GLN in any way you can!
To see the full story, check out Shunpei’s Adventure in the DR!