Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Por Fin!

After more than a year of applications and waiting, they finally told me I was accepted into the Peace Corps and was invited to serve in the Dominican Republic.  Months later, I actually arrived in the country.  Now, after two months here in the DR, I finally know the specific community where I'll be living and working!

As expected, it's a Batey in the East.  I requested the East because part of our training was in that region, and I got along really well with my host family and want to visit them.  I was interested in a Batey because I'll get the chance to learn Haitian Creole.  And how many Americans can say they speak Haitian?

Bateyes are the poorest communities in the DR.  The Dominican economy used to be based primarily on sugar production, and Haitians came into the country to work in the sugar fields.  Now, the economy is focused on tourism, and all that's left of the sugar plantations are small groups of Haitians without any major sources of income.  Most of the inhabitants of Bateyes are of either Haitian or Haitian-Dominican descent, and many of them don't have any legal documents.  The older community members often don't speak Spanish, but only Creole.  This is going to be a crazy experience!

The Batey I'll be in has had a previous PCV from 2007-2008, and has also been visited by volunteers from Save the Children.  There are about 1,100 people in the community.  They have a computer lab with functioning computers, a printer, and (at least part of the time) electricity, so they've already got plenty to work with.  I'll be fairly close to a large city, so it won't be too difficult to get resources.  There are also some cool PCVs from my group who will be living very close.  Unfortunately, for security reasons, I can't post the name of the Batey on a public blog, but it those of you who are my facebook friends can find that info on my facebook page.

Most of the Bateyes in the country are closer to the Haitian border, where it never rains and is extra dusty, so I got a pretty good deal with a Batey in the East.  Tomorrow, I will meet my project partner (the person with whom I will probably do most of my work over the next two years) and we'll travel to the Batey, where I'll stay with my new host family (with whom I'll live for at least the next three months).  I'll come back to the capital on Sunday, because we have the official swearing in ceremony on May 11, then I'll take the rest of my things and be officially (finally!) in my permanent community!

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