Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Day in the Life of a PC trainee

Hello, everyone!

Today I thought I'd give you an overview of what a typical day looks like (if we have a typical day).  I wake up at 6:30-7:00 and my host mom already has breakfast prepared.  I'll do another post sometime on what Dominican food is like, but for now I'll just say that my host mom is a doting grandmother who likes to make sure I eat plenty, so I always leave the house feeling pretty full.  There's a married couple of PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) living on my street, so I walk over to meet them and we leave at 7:30.  Most PCVs live within walking distance of the training center, but we're in a more distant barrio (neighborhood), so we have to ride on the public transportation.  It would be nice to be able to walk, but it's turned out to be really good for us, because we are more comfortable with the public transportation than most of the other volunteers.

Training starts at 8:00, and the schedule for every day is different.  We have large group sessions where we learn about health and safety or hear from current volunteers, we have small groups of 3-7 people where we practice Spanish (according to our speaking ability level), and we occasionally break into groups by sector to cover information specific to our field.  There are three sectors in my training group: ICT/Education (my sector), Environment, and Appropriate Technologies (appropriate technologies covers basic tools and skills such as digging latrines and irrigation to provide practical changes that can improve the lives of some of the poorest people in the DR).  Often, during training, we will have some type of a field trip, such as practicing public transportation, buying fruit and making a fruit salad (the fruit here is delicious), or learning how to ride a motoconcho.  Lunch is provided while we're at training, and it's pretty typical Dominican food prepared by Dominican women in a small kitchen on the PC training compound.

When training is over for the day (usually about 4:30), we head back to our host families.  Some people may stay behind and play volleyball on the compound or meet up later for drinks, but most of us just head home.  In my case, passing time with my host family consists mainly of playing Dominos.  Dominos is a huge national pastime, and you will often see people playing in front of their houses.

We have dinner around 7:00, but the primary meal in the DR is lunch, so dinner is smaller and more casual.  By the evening, the temperature has dropped to a very comfortable level (60-70 degrees F), so I try to spend the time outside reading or playing Dominos, or I visit a neighbor's house to see if they have working internet so I can check my emails.

Later, I take a shower (the water's cold, but it feels pretty nice) and go to bed.  My host family has steady water and electricity, which is quite a luxery in the DR.  There's better infrastructure in the cities, and we're in the Santo Domingo, which is the capital and largest city in the DR, but I think most people in the city lose power at least for part of the day.  Inverters are common, to keep everything running when the 'luz' is gone.

My daily life isn't normal right now, even for a PCV, because I'm still a trainee and not actually a volunteer.  Tomorrow, we will all leave to visit current volunteers in their various locations around the country.  I'm going to visit a volunteer who lives in the South.  Everyone who has seen his site says it's one of the most beautiful places in the country, so I'll try to get some good pictures!  For now, here are some pictures from around the PC training compound.  It's not completely representative of the city, because it's a walled in area that's well taken care of, but you can see some Dominican plants and see where I pass most of my time.

A Mango's not in season, but you can see some green mangos if you look close.

One of the rooms where we have lessons

Me in my fashionable motoconcho helmet.  I'm forbidden from getting on a motorcycle in the city, and required to wear a helmet if I'm ever on one in the country.  It's as tight as it looks.

Some palm trees and our bathrooms.  They flush!  But we're still in the luxury of the city.

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