IT'S OFFICIAL!: I am officially a United States Peace Corps Volunteer! After training for over 10 weeks, which consisted of taking tests, learning about the culture, giving presentations, sitting in Spanish classes for hours, and adapting my body to this food, my training class became volunteers on October 29, 2008!
The actual ceremony was very nice, with speeches from the Director of the Peace Corps, the Director of ETRENA, and the US Ambassador to the DR. The Ambassador gave his speech in Spanish but I surprisingly found out he cannot speak Spanish, so it was a little painful to sit through. It was such a relief to finally be done with training and be able to start what I came here to do.
THE CAPITAL: is basically a money pit when you are a Peace Corps Volunteer. Not only are you able to buy most foods that you cannot find anywhere else (In three days I had a couple of sandwiches, Burger King, and Chinese food!), but it just adds up with other items like lodging, transportation, and ice cream (it's hot here). The great thing about the capital is the US Embassy.
For me, whenever I thought of the US Embassy when I was in the states, I always thought that so many important things happened there - I was wrong. They have an Olympic size pool AND hot showers, both were the first time I have experienced those things in months! I went in the pool and took a hot shower and was happier than a child watching High School Musical! Oh, how the simple things make me so happy here.
LEAVING ANOTHER FAMILY: It is frustrating that we have already lived with 3 families, but also really nice to know that I can now stay in different parts of the country with either family. My family in the capital is by far the greatest home stay experience I have had, mainly because of my super dona and her grandson, Gabriel, who is my favorite Dominican friend. The night before I left I was writing in my journal as I usually do before I go to bed. Gabriel then came in my room, saw that I was writing in my journal, and then shut the door after telling me "esperate! - wait!" He then came back into my room and showed me the journal he bought when I was gone during training, which came complete with a lock and key. He then sat next to me and starting writing in his journal while we listened to my iPod.
NEW PHONE NUMBER: Since I had no signal at my site, they issued me a new cell phone with a new number: (829) 894-0303. I am able to accept all incoming calls and texts for free, so start dialing!
I FEEL AS THOUGH I AM FINALLY IN THE DR: because I now have my site, my friends, my long-term host family, my project(s), and my challenges. It is going to be a two year journey of ups-and-downs, but I am prepared to face whatever comes my way. It has already been difficult with learning a new culture, developing my language skills, and meeting entirely new people. I always ask myself if this is something that I really want to do, something that I should continue. And so far, the answer has been yes, even with the speedbumps.