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The Student News Site of Loudoun Valley High School

The Viking

The Student News Site of Loudoun Valley High School

The Viking

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As GenAI (or generative artificial intelligence) is continuing to expand to encompass all creative and factual horizons, students today have the world’s knowledge at their fingertips — and then some. We were the guinea pigs for the iPhone, and now our generation are the experimental subjects for artificial intelligence.

Read this debate between Avery Ramsey and Claire O`Connor at the link in our bio!

By Avery Ramsey and Claire O`Connor | Staff Reporters
Photo by Claire O`Connor
...

Which do you prefer?

To watch the full video, click the link in our bio!

By Kenzie Farrey, Kate Miller, and Megan Fennelly
...

HOPE International Trip to the Dominican Republic

Part 3: Pleasure
All+photos+by+Claire+OConnor
All photos by Claire O’Connor

Even though I absolutely adored working with HOPE International and Esperanza, it was nice to take a break from visiting associates to have some fun — although the associate meetings were extremely enjoyable. The Dominican Republic was filled to the brim with excursions and sights and towns to walk around.

A man paints in the streets of the Colonial Zone, Feb. 7

The first night we arrived, I immediately went into photographer mode. My brain exploded with photo ideas, and the streets of Santo Domingo were swimming with opportunities. After I was practically dragged off the street from taking photos, one of the trip leaders agreed to take a group for a walk around the Colonial Zone, a portion of Santo Domingo where our hotel was located. 

Words cannot describe how much I adore walking around a place I’ve never been before. I love comparing and contrasting different aspects of a new place to where I live. I love seeing how people live and go about their day-to-day lives. I love seeing different architecture, plants, animals, and anything a new location has to offer.

And, oh my — the Dominican Republic most definitely lived up to my excitement. When I was walking around, one word kept popping up in my head: lively. The streets of Santo Domingo were full of so much laughter, color, personality. Just pure joy. The buildings were stunning and colorful. There was music and art everywhere. It was a breath of fresh air coming from the U.S. where I often feel creatively suffocated because of a sense of “grayness” and monotonous feeling. 

On the third day of the trip, for the first time, we had a substantial amount of exploration time. So we decided to do what I love — walk around. We visited a coffee shop, and I am disappointed and a little embarrassed to say that it was way too strong for me. My “Americanness” truly shined clear at that moment.

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Coffee aside, one truly universal food is chocolate. We visited a chocolate factory and they had everything from chocolate tea to giant chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day. Unlike chocolate in the United States, Dominican chocolate is almost exclusively dark. Milk and white chocolate is very rare and is replaced with stronger tastes. I can’t speak for everything in the factory — but the chocolate bar I ate was quite delicious.

Visitors of “Tres Ojos” ride a boat across the water to the other side of the cave, Feb. 10

That night, with our suitcases newly full of souvenirs after our day out on the town, we discovered the hotel was holding their weekly karaoke night on the rooftop bar. And, of course, we had to go. So my mom, a portion of the women we traveled with, one husband, and I trekked ourselves up to the roof.

My mom and I are suckers for some karaoke and we always kill it on a duet. Our song of the evening was “9 to 5,” by Dolly Parton. I was grinning ear to ear the entire time, singing my heart out.

The next day, I was sad to be on the way to the airport but excited for the excursion on the way. A visit to “Tres Ojos” was the last step of the incredibly enjoyable and rewarding itinerary. “Tres Ojos” is a magnificent cave system with water a brighter blue than I knew existed.

Let’s just say my inner photographer came out for a visit again.

The Dominican Republic is such an incredibly rich country — and I don’t mean materially. They are rich in their nature. Rich in architecture. Rich in food. Rich in experiences. Rich in people. Rich in laughter. Rich in love.

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