Peace Corps Blog, Dominican Republic, Daniel Wendt

My head is finally back above water.

Yesterday, I spent half of the day recruiting students for our new class at UTESA University in a neighboring community. It was great. UTESA is letting us borrow a few classrooms and it is a wonderfully modern campus!

I had a big plate of rice and beans and then started writing 31 résumés for the students from my vocational training program at 2pm. I finished around 1am, stopping only to do another INSANITY workout video. Writing one résumé can be mind-numbing. 31 Spanish résumés resulted in me drinking two liters of orange soda, listening to 7 hours of The Economist audio version, making coffee at 10:30pm and storing the sugar in the freezer (yep, after two years with no refrigeration, I have a freezer and no shame about it). Although I was thoroughly confused and cross-eyed by the time it was over, I think that they look pretty good.

Today and Friday, we have practice work interviews with our students before testing their abilities with actual managers from local hotels, restaurants and shops.

Let’s get these hardworking students employed! Peace Corps, Hoorah. 

Post Script Fun Fact About Spanish! Yesterday, I learned that Microsoft Word doesn’t handle semicolons and commas correctly in Spanish; instead, when using either, it is appropriate to put a space on either side of the symbol.

Example:

Áreas : ​Primeros auxilios ; higiene y manejo de heridas ; cuidados generales del paciente geriátrico y recién nacido ; seguridad y prevención de accidentes en el hogar ; uso, preparación y administración de medicamentos (inyecciones, pastillas, catéter intravenoso) ; manejo de fiebre y deshidratación ; nutrición ; medidas de higiene y prevención ante enfermedades infectocontagiosas.

 

Now you can go on living your life. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7XfCQTNQJc&feature=youtu.be

What up?

Dominican Republic North Coast Earth Day Video in Spanish! I wish that I would have had this to show to my Brigada Verde students back in the village. In this video appear some of my neighbors, the director at the school where I teach and one of my coworkers at DREAM Project! 

Sweet!

Happy Earth Day! 

Happy Earth Day! 

A note from the Peace Corps Dominican Republic Country Director

Teamwork:

This concept is defined in Wikipedia as “work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole”.  Delighted to report out this week on more evidence of teamwork here in Peace Corps Dominican Republic.  Tuesday morning, I arrived at the office to find three Peace Corps staff members—Juan Alberto Baez, Farah Canaan and Tammy Simo—in the Land Cruiser on their way out the gate to Clinica Abreu.  They explained to me that a trainee was taken to the hospital in the middle of Monday night, had undergone emergency surgery and had lost and received, an enormous amount of blood in that process. Evidently, here in the DR, one is only allowed to purchase from the blood bank if an immediate donation is given to replenish that which was used. PCMOs had alerted PCDR that a blood donation was needed at the hospital. These three Peace Corps Dominican Republic staff members donated their blood to make a trainee’s lifesaving operation possible.   When I thanked them personally for their help, they demurred.  Tammy’s response was simply this:  “Volunteers are the reason we are all here. Of course we do this for them!”  I also want to recognize the efficient and timely actions of the two trainers, Alejandra Saldaña and Asbel Trinidad, who brought the trainee the night before to the ER as the PCMOs requested.   Unquestioning. Ready. Selfless. Teamwork. More evidence that – volunteers and staff, Dominicans and Americans, counterparts and communities – together, we are Peace Corps DR.

…In short, the Peace Corps Dominican Republic staff has our backs.

The winning video for the Peace Corps Week Challenge comes from Kyrgyzstan. http://kgisme.tumblr.com/ It is really great. I still wish that my friend Ryan would have won.

 

Here you can see 2 minute videos on YouTube from Peace Corps Volunteers all around the world: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLM0oh3lEA63HF4ATfGPUIG7WK-72PyELH

Pictured above are my home health aide students receiving training from the Puerto Plata Ministry of Health. The A Ganar team is working to train professionals who are capable of stimulating children using Montessori methods, move patients with correct ergonomics, understand proper nutrition, provide emotional support, assist patients with activities of daily living and administer medicine. It was very cool having our students receive training from 3 doctors, 1 nurse practitioner with 20 years experience, the Provincial Minister of Health and a few other allied health professionals.

Also, this week the Peace Corps Dominican Republic asked me to submit a quote about my service for their new website. Although I may not make the final cut for the actual site, I have posted it here: 

“As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I spent two years in a small village directing community projects with the neighborhood association, falling in love with Dominican culture and learning Spanish. “Come in, sit down. Have you eaten?” A lot can be learned from the manner in which Dominicans treat each other. After two years of learning to compartir, pretending to dance bachata, enjoying fiestas de palo and developing lifelong friendships, I wanted to continue serving El Pueblo Dominicano. I extended my service to teach customer service, mathematics and professional development in a workforce training program at an NGO. There, I created bilingual instruction materials, continued to learn about development and built relationships with local businesses so that they would accept my students as interns. As for feeling accomplished, imagine an unemployed single mother making a higher monthly salary than either of her parents after immense effort and a few short months of training.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic, there were struggles. I spent 6 months confused by a new language, felt the pains of homesickness, cried alone at night under a mosquito net, and had to run outside to a latrine when I got sick. I learned to overcome adversity. I adapted to the culture, made best-friends with my Dominican neighbors, empowered my project partners, grew as a person, learned to tackle every obstacle that came my way, and worked to improve the lives of some of society’s most impoverished and vulnerable young people. I love the Peace Corps.”

-Daniel Wendt, RPCV Dominican Republic 2011-2014

DREAM PROJECT - Promoción A Ganar 8
6 plays

This just in: My coworkers at the DREAM Project are awesome and put together a radio advertisement for recruiting the next batch of students for our workforce training program at UTESA, a university that is on the north coast!

Also, click to see the flyer that I have listed as the album art. 

When I realize I have been translating a word incorrectly for months:

Life in Peace Corps has not been easy. It has however been pretty diverse, rich and satisfying.

 

Take into account the various tasks that I will be or have been undertaking this week:

·         Teach memorization techniques to 21 workforce development students.

·         Complete 5 Insanity work out videos.

·         Visit two Peace Corps Volunteers and butcher their goat.

·         Recruit business owners to accept my students as interns.

·         Assist a volunteer with writing a grant and budgeting a construction project.

·         Run 12 miles, barefoot on the beach (during 3 consecutive days).

·         Have a romantic churrasco dinner on a dock overlooking a lagoon.

·         Fabricate hotel, restaurant and sales dramatizations for my customer service students, practice, advise and evaluate with a rubric.  

·         Help guide a group of 100+ volunteer study abroad students.

·         Drink a bottle of whiskey that was smuggled over the Haitian border with Arthur on his fare-thee-well visit to Cabarete.

·         Apply for summer internships with the US Department of State

·         Teach 31 students how to develop a 4-6 minute informative speech.

·         Schedule decommissioning processes with Peace Corps (1/2 a dozen exit interviews, medical, dental, language competency evaluation)

·         As the Officiant, plan my brother’s wedding ceremony.

·         Hassle the admissions department at Bowling Green State University about the paperwork regarding funding for my master’s studies.

·         Hug my 75 year old Dominican neighbor, Oro.

·         Zipline into a spring-fed lagoon and CAVE SWIM.

·         Go snorkeling and spend the day at a pristine rural beach on the north coast.

 

“…Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed—doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language.

But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps—who works in a foreign land—will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace.”

Establishment of the Peace Corps (March 1, 1961)

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Do you ever reflect and think, “Did I really do that?”

Last night I was on the phone with Rinnie, a fellow Ohioan Peace Corps Volunteer who was assigned to my old village. She is great and has agreed to undertake the task of finishing the Library/Community Center. For an hour we worked on a budget for a grant that she is writing to pour a floor, install an electrical inverter, put up shelving, organize a library, build a latrine, paint and landscape around the building.

Deep-down, I feel I little guilty that I couldn’t get all of these things done despite extending my stay in the village. 

Suddenly, I had a realization. Never have I been a foreman, an engineer, a mason, an estimator or a fundraiser. Still, with the meager plans that I have posted above (1 drawing, 1.5 page material estimate), immense help from my community, some calculations from an off-site engineer, the knowledge of my masons and a ton of blood/sweat/sunburns/pulled muscles/tears/blisters/dehydration headaches; look at what WE did.

There is a great Dominican adage that goes to the tune of: 

Falta de pan, casava dice el pueblo. Literally it means, “If you don’t have bread, eat cassava (a starchy root) says the community.”

O sea: If you have a goal, make the best with what you have, 

Photos of the Finished Project Soon To Come. 

Watch 7 seconds of me being awesome on a zip line at Laguna Dudu. 

This just in: Underwater cameras are pretty cool.

Last Sunday, I took some R&R and I went to Laguna Dudu with Yulia, Kirill and Olga. Here I am doing some of my favorite activities: Cave Yoga, Cave Swimming, Underwater Superman and talking about non-point source pollution and soil types while walking down the beach.

#schwing

"Nearly all Dominican women straighten their hair, which experts say is a direct result of a historical learned rejection of all things black."

The Dominican Republic is rich with culture and people who are as beautiful and varied as their natural resources. My parents taught me to respect people of all races, cultures, disability status, ages and religions since childhood. I majored in sociology so you would think that after talking about race/class/gender in an academic setting, broaching the subject wouldn’t be so precarious for me in the Dominican Republic.

You would think.

Then, I spent a month resisting my 12 year old neighbor Christopher’s nickname. You see, no one knew who Christopher was. In fact, his own grandmother might ask who you are talking about unless you refer to him by his house-name, “Negro.”

Follow the link below to keep reading about race in the Dominican Republic.http://www.miamiherald.com/multimedia/news/afrolatin/part2/#storylink=cpy

Are you looking to nerd-out?

This is for you international development minded individuals who are interested in knowing how the United States government is working with the Dominican government to help mitigate HIV/AIDS transmission, implement better democratic practices, improve equal-rights public services, foster government transparency, promote a sustainable economy, encourage disaster preparedness and response, reduce the flow of illegal drugs through major ports, and attack nonpoint source pollution problems.

Go-Go-GADGET-Pocket-Protector

Huh?

Agreed.