So, we have now been in country almost 7 months now, and in site 4+. We spent all summer preparing a community diagnostic, figuring out what is going on in our town and meeting people. We spent many days compartiring (sharing, chatting) with the community members. Everyday was spent sweating, and all of July we worked in the first DREAM Project camp in our site.
The DREAM Project is starting to work in our site. They had their first camp in our community with 55 kids from the public school, where we are working. For four weeks, the kiddos came from 8:00 to noon to focus on math and reading. We had nine Dominican teachers, three in each class, and then for an hour each day six kids would work with each teachers. Pretty great teacher-student ratio, eh? The kids also had Deportes para la Vida everyday, which is a sports program with related health topics built into the classes.
Our role in the camp? Help out where needed. We spent our days planning lessons and activities to share with the teachers, dealing with behaviors, or working one on one with students who needed an extra boost. It was a great way for the students and parents to get used to seeing us everyday, and start building confianza (trust) with us.
The highlights? We took the kiddos on a couple of field trips. The first one was to the airport. The airport on the north coast is within walking distance from our community (hint, hint). Many of the students had never been to the airport before, although many people in our community work there. It is a more prestigious job, though. Two favorite parts of the day: seeing the kids go on an escalator for the first time and while eating our snack outside, having one of our students ride up on a horse. When we asked him where the horse came from and were explaining to him that this wasn’t a great idea (although trying to hold back laughter) his response was that he asked the owner for permission first. Makes sense in an 11 year-olds mind I guess.
The second trip we took was to the mountain in Puerto Plata. We took the kids to the teleférico (cable car). Many of them (nor the teachers) had never been up the mountain. We spent a morning walking through the trails and looking at the views.
A group of girls showing their community map that they created; a diagnostic activity Keegan and I did with the students to learn more about their views about the community(ies), and what is important to them.
Once camp wrapped up, Keegan and I went to the capital for a week for our 3-month (3-months in our site) training. We shared our diagnostic information with all of the other education volunteers, and heard about their sites. Everyone brought along a project partner, or key member of their community, to help share the information. We learned more specifics and did some planning for the school year. It was definitely quite interesting with the meshing of cultures. The best part? The talent show. Skits ranged from one Dominican giving a speech about education while imitating Dominican presidents with volunteers clapping behind him, a duo singing a song from a musical, to a skit on a Dominican tale, with having a female volunteer not finishing the skit because she thought it was sexist, to cross-dressing and dembow to Amara la Negra (google it).
It was a relief to get back to site and really start working, since the school year started the following Monday. Or did it? More to come…
P.S. If you have questions or topics you would like to hear more about, like our weekend routine of snorkeling (have you ever seen squid??), let us know! =]