5 Days in the Dominican Republic: Day 1 was Artsy AF

5 Days in the Dominican Republic: Day 1 was Artsy AF

Santiago Carnival is artsy af, just know.


This past Spring I had the opportunity to visit and experience the Dominican Republic- in a very non-touristy way.

The first day was in the city of Santiago. Santiago (de los Caballeros) is north of the Dominican Republic. I was really happy to walk the streets of Santiago a little bit, and just enjoy the energy around us.

The day started at 8am.

Our first stop was Hotel Colonial in Santiago. We had breakfast and took a typical tour of the neighborhood- where the corner store was, what the monument meant, the closest place to change money, etc etc. All the things that make us stand out more than we already did.

In relation to the history of Dominican Republic, it's crazy to think I visited one of the towns that experienced The 1937 massacre. Granted, Santiago wasn't the primary area where the murders happened- so I may just be overdramatic- but that kind of had me shook. The details of this massacre are limited but what is recorded is still horrifying in itself. Armed forces, along with armed civilians, used machetes to kill Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent in Santiago and so many other parts in the Dominican Republic.

(After learning and experiencing the Dominican Republic for a week, it wouldn't surprise me if darker-skinned people were murdered all around this part of the island.)

Under the Trujillo regime, people killed any and everybody that didn't fit their own perception of Dominican-ness. The reasoning and execution behind this massacre is boneless, reckless, and full of hate; Trujillo was never held accountable and nobody was ever brought to justice.

After the tour, we visited a small little gallery showcasing Dominican culture via past carnivals. Carnival is very well known in the country and worldwide. To me, this small space highlighted the Santiago culture and history in a very artistic and private way. It was a beautiful depiction of blackness, celebration, family, love and pride.

The small gallery was the perfect preview to what we were going to experience next; the carnival. The carnival was my favorite part of Day 1. We got to relax, (try and) blend in, and just embody the culture of Santiago. Blending in wasn't so hard for me, coming from a Haitian family. But for others... it wasn't so easy. So naturally, it wasn't easy for me either because my internal similarities to my peers outweighed my external similarities to the locals. There was a parade with different costumes, music, tricks, dance routines, etc.

Kennisa Ragland Kennisa Ragland

Kennisa Ragland

Our day ended in a pretty... bizarre way- to say the least. We were chilling, watching the parade, vibing out. Then, some people started running. So, naturally, we started running too. We didn't know why we were running but that didn't stop us. We ran all the way back to familiarity, safety- and called it a night.

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For Camille, With Love

To my godmother, my second mom, my rooted confidence, my support


First grade, March. It was my first birthday without my mom. You through a huge party for me, a sleepover with friends from school. It included dress up games and making pizza and Disney trivia. You, along with help from my grandma, threw me the best birthday party a 7-year-old could possibly want.

During elementary school, I carpooled with you and a few of the neighborhood kids. I was always the last one to be dropped off, sometimes you would sneak a donut for me. Living next door to you was a blessing. You helped me with everything. In second grade, you helped me rehearse lines for history day so I could get extra credit. In 4th grade, you helped me build my California mission.

You and your sister came out to my 6th grade "graduation". You bought me balloons and made me feel as if moving onto middle school was the coolest thing in the entire world.

While you moved away from next door, you were a constant in my life. Going to Ruby's Diner for my birthday, seeing movies at the Irvine Spectrum and just hanging out, I saw you all the time. During these times, you told me about all of the silly things you did with my mom and dad, how my mom was your best friend. I couldn't have had a greater godmother.

In middle school, you pushed me to do my best and to enroll in honors. You helped me through puberty and the awkward stages of being a woman.

Every single time I saw you, it would light up my entire day, my week. You were more than my godmother, you were my second mom. You understood things that my grandma didn't.

When you married John, you included me in your wedding. I still have that picture of you, Jessica, Aaron and myself on my wall at college. I was so happy for you.

Freshmen year of high school, you told me to do my best. I did my best because of you. When my grandma passed away that year, your shoulder was the one I wanted to cry on.

You were there when I needed to escape home. You understood me when I thought no one would. You helped me learn to drive, letting me drive all the way from San Clemente to Orange.

When I was applying to colleges, you encouraged me to spread my wings and fly. You told me I should explore, get out of California. I wanted to study in London, you told me to do it. That's why, when I study abroad this Spring in London, I will do it for you.

When I had gotten into UWT, you told me to go there. I did and here I am, succeeding and living my best in Tacoma. I do it for you, because of you.

When I graduated high school and I was able to deliver a speech during our baccalaureate, you cheered me on. You recorded it for me, so I could show people who weren't able to make it to the ceremony. You were one of the few people able to come to my actual graduation. You helped me celebrate the accomplishments and awards from my hard work.

When your cancer came back, I was so worried. I was afraid for you, I was afraid of what I would do without the support you had always given me. When I was in Rome, I went to the Vatican and had gotten a Cross with a purple gem in the middle blessed by the Pope to help you with your treatments. It was something from me and a little bit of my mom in the necklace, the gem.

Now, sitting so far from you away at college just like you wanted me to. I miss you. I wish I was there to say goodbye.

I'll travel the world for you, write lots of stories and books for you, I will live life to the fullest for you.

You are another angel taken too early in life. Please say hello to my parents and grandma in Heaven for me.

Lots of love,


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8 Struggles Of Attending Miami University, NOT The University Of Miami

Love and honor.


When most people hear "Miami," they immediately picture palm trees, blue skies and warm beaches. This is definitely understandable as the only Miami most people know is Miami, Florida. In fact, until my junior year of high school, that was the only Miami that I knew. However, in a far-away land called Oxford, Ohio, amongst many cornfields and far from any palm trees or beaches, there's another Miami: Miami University. Filled with beautiful red brick buildings and open, grassy quads, Miami University is vastly different from University of Miami.

While being a student there is wonderful (it's obviously the best school), every MU student knows it can also be a struggle...

1. The disappointment of other people when they find out where you actually go to school. 

The minute people hear "Miami," their faces light up as they imagine Miami, Florida. However, as soon as they realize that you're talking about Ohio, not Florida, their faces drop and you no longer feel so special.

2. You have to remember to add on "of Ohio" at the end of Miami University whenever you tell people where you go to school. 

To further my last point, if you don't specify that you go to Miami University OF OHIO, they will automatically assume that you go to the University of Miami in Florida and will excitedly talk about how nice it must be to go to school in a place with such beautiful weather and beaches.

3. There are probably people who still think you go to school in Florida.

Relatives, friends, neighbors... Yep, most of them thought you were going to school in Florida at some point. Depending on how long you've been there, some still may, which makes for some awkward conversations at family reunions and neighborhood parties.

4. People wrote, "good luck at University of Miami" on your graduation cards.

Even if they know that you go to school in Ohio, many people still wrote this on your graduation cards, and they also write, "I hope you're having a great time at University of Miami" on your Facebook wall for your birthday. Because after all, they're basically the same, right? Wrong. But I guess it's the thought that counts.

5. Winter.

Despite your fierce loyalty to your school, when winter rolls around and you can't feel your face by the time you make the walk from one end of campus to the other, you find yourself wondering why you chose Miami University instead of University of Miami.

6. Explaining to everyone you meet why there's a school in Ohio called Miami.

No, Miami University has absolutely no affiliation to the University of Miami. It was named for the Miami Native Americans who resided in southwest Ohio.

7. When people ask you if you're *sure* that Miami University isn't in Florida.

Um, YES I'm sure. If Miami University was in Florida I can promise you that I would be a whole lot tanner than I am.

8. Trying to prove to people that Miami University is actually the original Miami.

After all, Miami University was founded in 1809 when Florida still belonged to Spain! Miami, Florida wasn't incorporated until 1896 and the University of Miami has only been around since 1925 (a whopping 116 years after Miami University was established!).

While, yes, I do sometimes ask myself why I go to school in Ohio instead of Florida, I love my Miami and wouldn't trade it for anything.

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