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I remember clearly the thirty seconds when I grew up. As we crossed the bridge over the river on the way from the airport, I looked down onto a multitude of shacks climbing crazily up the steep slopes of the sludgy riverbank. An awful truth was suddenly clear: in two years’ time, when I made the reverse trip on my way to the airport and home, I would look down on those same shacks climbing up the riverbank. Nothing I would do in the intervening years would have any real impact on the reality that was the Dominican Republic. All those many years ago I had just graduated from Wellesley College, an idealist and a gringa who wanted to do good by joining the Peace Corps. In that brief journey across the river, I grew up in the ways of the world. For the first time in my life, I encountered deep and chronic poverty; I came face to face with inequity and powerlessness; I saw the realities of poor education and worse health care; I discovered the meaning of marginality; I understood the legacy of colonialism.


Grindle, Merilee S. "Under the Bridge." ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America. Winter 2009.