Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Winding Down and Starting Over

The community-based portion of our training is nearing its end; we have less than two weeks remaining in beautiful Constanza. It has been great, I think everyone was beaten down by the weather in the capital when we first arrived, many volunteers have told us that they don’t understand why they have this training group arrive at the absolute hottest part of the year. But I guess it was good because the rest of the year will seem cooler and less suffocating in comparison.

But after three weeks of hell (I actually imagine hell must feel a lot like Santo Domingo in August) arriving in Constanza was a blessing. I immediately fell in love with it. It is so green, with mountains in every direction and crops covering every valley and hillside. It looks a lot more like Oregon than an island in the Caribbean.

Also, after the unbelievable amounts of trash everywhere in Santo Domingo, Constanza looks like Pleasantville. There are still some places that trash just kind of gets dumped out of sight, but you actually see garbage trucks on the streets here, something I only saw once in three weeks in the capital.

As part of our training in Constanza the 15 of us were divided into smaller groups and each group was partnered with a local youth group. This was great to get to know some Dominican youth and start figuring out how to work within screwed up system to get things done. My youth group, along with Jenni, Alicia, and now Dean, is an environment-focused youth group from the barrio of El Chorro, a poorer barrio on the outskirts of town. The group was amazing and really had their stuff figured out, we definitely learned a lot more from them than they did from us but they like us so I think it’s okay. We are still in the process of trying to get some cement and paint from the mayor or some other source to finish a little basketball court in their barrio before we leave, so keep your fingers crossed.

Throw in the fact that all us volunteers lived within two blocks of each other and hung out all day during training and then every night made CBT a really great experience. “Loma Time” was amazing. Instead of going to clubs or bars to spend money we didn’t have, we would just take some ipod speakers, blankets, and sometimes drinks up the hill near our barrio. Up on the loma we would just sit in a group, talk and get to know each other, listen to music and stare out at the city lights and stars above. It was a blast and was the perfect way to unwind after long days. Part of me is kind of sad to see it go honestly, but now it’s on to the Big Show!

We got our placements in a big meeting with our assistant peace corps director (APCD) Adele Williams. She has been working on developing possible project sites since February and during her explanation of each site and who was going where it was obvious she had thought about it a lot and put each person in the site that most matched their skills, desires, and experience. I think to a person everyone is really happy about their site placements so that's pretty awesome.

(Here is a map to the youth development group's site placements)

I am going to Batey 9 in the southwest of the country. This is the desert area and it is supposed be really hot, really dusty, and not a whole lot of fun in terms of climate. She said there are a lot of youth excited to have a volunteer and I will be working with sexual health and sports and recreation. We didn't really find out anything more than where we are going so I will have to wait until we get our project descriptions in a couple weeks and also visit our sites. Like I said Adele put a lot of work in and had good reasons for sending people where she sent them, and I feel like it is a really good fit for me. The only downside is that I am really far from all the friends I've made in CBT--I am the only one from our youth development group going to the southwest. But there are some second year volunteers in the region so I won't be totally alone.

So yeah, that's the lowdown. We are almost done here, then we go back to the capital for a couple days, then go visit our site and take our stuff, then go back to the capital to swear-in and then we will be returning to our sites for good around October 29th. I also have a week of Creole training in there somewhere but I'm not sure exactly when.

My internet access is most assuredly never going to be like it has been here in Constanza for the rest of my two years, so I will try and write a lot before I leave. Once I get to my site I have no idea what kind of access I'll have, I'm pretty sure I won't have any in the Batey and I don't know what the closest town is that will have access. So start sending that snail mail, letters would be greatly appreciated. The mail goes to the capital and I'm pretty far away, so I'll probably only be able to pick it up every month or so. Nevertheless, here is my mailing address for the rest of my two years:

Cameron Jones PCV
Cuerpo de Paz
Bolivar 451 Gazcue
Apartado Postal 1412
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Letters are safe and easy, packages perhaps less so, but since it is going to the Peace Corps it should be fine. Don't send boxes or anything via UPS or FedEx, they go to customs and cost a lot to get out and get messed with. So letters and padded envelopes via regular mail is they way to go I've been told. Several people have received stuff already in large padded envelopes and they said it takes about two weeks to arrive. Love you and miss you all, adios!

1 comment:

  1. I'm curious whether with all the garbage you described when we talked if there are rats the size of house pets running around as well. Fantastic pictures of the trip to the Falls. Mom