Friends, Facilitation, and Foam

Trip Start Aug 19, 2008
Trip End Oct 29, 2010

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Thursday, October 2, 2008

THE REAL DEAL:  I dont want to give the impression that things are all rainbows and mariposas (butterflies) here, because that is not the case.  Realizing that a there are children without shoes, homes with tin roofs and rats, and trash in the streets grounds me in this experience.  Im not here to be a tourist.  Im not here to just take pictures of the beautiful scenery.  Im here to make a positive difference, and if that is to try and explain to my host brother the importance of brushing his teeth or share my American experiences with my host cousins, then at least I have done something as simple as that. 

COMMUNITY BASED TRAINING CONT.:  We are in the midst of our training, with less than 3 weeks left.  I conducted interviews to business owners to try and work with them in their microenterprises viewing the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunites of their informal commerical businesses.  Owners do not focus on budgets, balance sheets, and inventory, rather, figure that with enough confianza they will have customers and a booming business.  Yesterday, my group visited an agricultural sector of the community where they have greenhouses and nurseries.  It was interesting having a Southern California guy trying to learn about agriculture, but hey, it may be necessary.  Next week, myself and two other volunteers will be working with a community group (Juntos de Vecinos) to see what they want to work on to improve their group in a business related way.  This means another presentation in Spanish! 

BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION:  Something unique about the CED (Community Economic Development) group is that we also work with kids in coming up with actual business plans; helping facilitate business classes on concepts such as marketing, accounting, and finance.  Best of all, at this competition we had to faciliate dinamicas!  They are basically icebreaker games.  Dominicans LOVE icebreakers no matter the age or gender.  Be it children or older women, they will get on their feet and play the tangled knot game, etc.  If any of you have icebreakers that you could send me, please email me at 

ESTABA ENFERMO:  However, at the business plan competition, I came down with a fever. I think all of the food, vaccinations, and heat finally caught up with me.  People have been getting sick here, but no one has really come down with anything life threatening.  Given, it was a not a fun night for me and my body.  I talked to my doa about the food situation and told her that I needed more vegetables and fruits in my diet.  She agreed and now I am no longer eating pounds of pounds of platanos or eggs covered in oil!

NOCHE DE  ESPUMA:   That is right, there was a foam party in the city where we live.  It was absolutely ridiculous, but it was packed with dominicans.  It was one of the only times where as volunteers we really got to let loose.  As trainees, there were definitely a lot of bonding moments, such as when the DJ played Low. And we did just that, shorty got low.

NEARING FINALITY:  It is only one more month until we swear in as volunteers, which will solidify our titles as Peace Corps Volunteers.  We have to go through a series of tests, some of which we already completed (like giving presentations in Spanish about our communities or written exams about the technical material).  Dont worry, Ive passed all of them so far with flying colors.  I mean, no one here wants us to fail or anything. At least I hope not.  We will move into our permanent communities at the end of the month as well, where we will be spending the next 2 years of service.
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robertmarsel on

Thanks for the news
Great to hear from you. Very interesting.
I thought I would be the first to send you a comment. Congratulations. Bob Marsel

ace7287 on

Justin RYG Misses YOU!!
Hey justin,

I love to read your updates and your stories. Its amazing to hear everything that you are doing there. I am excited for you and I am sure you are having a great time. I know that you will be challenged on this journey and I can't wait to see how you have grown. I love you Justin and u betta keep sending the updates.
Peace brother
p.s. I am applying for teach for america next year. just a side note on whats going on with me. ; )

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