Sunday, March 27, 2011

Volunteer Site Visit

This post is a little late, but that's how things work.  Last weekend, I visited a current volunteer who lives in a small pueblo on the coast.  Everyone who had visited told me it was one of the most beautiful places in the country, and it lived up to its reputation.
    The volunteer works in a Community Technical Center, one of many computer labs set up by the government around the country.  They're doing good work, teaching classes in basic computer use and Microsoft Office, as well as training teachers and staff to take over after Peace Corps leaves.  Unfortunately, the promised funding hasn't been coming through on time, so their equipment is breaking down and nobody's getting paid.  The unsteady electricity means the entire lab can shut down at any time, and the computers' power supplies break down and never get replaced.  This sounds like a pretty common problem here in the DR, though, and nobody said the Peace Corps was supposed to be easy.
    I was impressed by how integrated the volunteer was into the community.  It's a small town, so it's not very difficult to meet everybody, but this volunteer always had a group of teenage boys hanging around his house, using his computer, eating (and sometimes cooking) dinner, and practicing English.  That level of interaction was clearly tiring, but it paid off in solid friendships and a positive impact on the town.  They loved playing sports, especially basketball, and I joined in some basketball and a game of soccer in the few days I was there (I also got to swim in the ocean and the freshwater river.  It was a pretty nice visit!).
    One of the volunteer's favorite accomplishments was the newly completed basketball court.  Before, they just set up a hoop in the street, but their hoop blew over and broke this winter.  The entire community grouped together and raised funds (with the help of the PC volunteer) and donated hours of work to complete a cement half-court with a permanant hoop.  There was even enough money left over to buy some uniforms.  The volunteer was especially happy with the fact that it was a community effort...he didn't run the project or push anything through, he just supported the town as they helped themselves.  That's exactly how the Peace Corps is supposed to work!

Some shots of the city of Santo Domingo

Traffic jams aren't as common as you'd think

El Campo

The road to the pueblo

View across the street

The view out the bathroom window.  Not something you see in the States.

The pueblo at sundown.

Dawn over the Caribbean Sea.

Returning to Santo Domingo.

No comments:

Post a Comment