Volunteers in Peace Corps Dominican Republic put together a zine of sorts that showcases volunteers writting and also has surveys completed by volunteers closing out their service, or ending there 26 month adventure in the Peace Corps. I have decided to share my survey with you all. Enjoy.
Name: Sarita Evjen
DR apodos: Saw-e e e e-ta , Romeo Masey or Romeo for short.
Site location: Casa ENED, Brisas del Norte, Boca Chica and Batey Las Pajas, Hato Mayor
Program: Youth, Family and Community Development
Project assignment: 1st Site – Casa ENED – Support the organizational development of a small boys home along with assisting in the implementation of a Sala de Tarea and running extracurricular activities such as boys groups and sports teams. Also work in the community to form and run girls and boys groups and sports teams. English Classes.
2nd Site – Las Pajas – Support a local Escojo group, implement boys and girls groups, work on literacy and support a local volleyball team. English Classes.
Project reality: 1st Site – Spent a lot of time teaching 13-year-old boys how to read and basic math skills. Built a number of forts, made a few batidas and cooked a lot of tostones. Started Chicas Brillantes and a girls Volleyball team in the community and taught an English Class
2nd Site – Escojo, Chicas Brillantes and a boys group. Coached a volleyball team and went to Sirve con Fuerza, where we kicked some butt. Lots of Deportes para la Vida. Literacy classes and ran a library out of my house. Worked with local youth to design and administer a literacy diagnostic in the community and to educate the community about the educational deficiency that exists. Monitored an 8th grade Prepara course for young women. Tutored adult female high school students in physics and math. Still attempting to build a library. Dabbled in documentation, and am still in the lucha. Fed a select few children almost daily. I did give the English classes as well.
Most useful thing brought into country: Experience as a camp counselor
Least useful thing brought into country: A broken heart and a love for micro brews, fine wine and French cuisine.
Best “I-know-I’m-in-the-Peace-Corps-now” moment: I was removed from my host family’s house due to a security incident after only being in site for 2 weeks (the first week of which was spent on hurrication). A PCVL and a PC Staff member came and picked me up and drove me to the capital and dropped me off at the PC office. As they walked back to their offices to get their belongings and close up shop for the day, they told me to go and stay at the Pen until further notice. I didn’t have any proper clothing, had left my wallet with my money and debit card in storage in Boca Chica, and had no idea where the Pen was located. Being such a “fresh” volunteer, I didn’t know how to ask for help or call these two individuals out for their lack of support. Instead I called an older volunteer to find out where the Pen was and ended up completely lost in Gazcue (Thanks Phil). I arrived back at the office, nearly in tears, and ran into two awesome volunteers who lent me money and walked me to the Pen. I knew I was in the Peace Corps because while it was a very frustrating and nerve-wracking situation, it all worked out (and things always seem to work themselves out in the Peace Corps) and by the end of the night I was enjoying a jumbo while eating Pica Pollo and laughing over my current state of homelessness with two new friends. Que viana la vida.
I knew I was Dominican when: I showed up to the Juan Luis Guerra concert wearing a tubi and was bien cordinanda. Biqui and Clara were my inspiration. Kenny called me a Doña.
Funniest experience in country: The Lion King skit at GLOW 2012. Tittler is the best Rafiki ever. I think the youth are still wondering what went on during those 90 seconds.
Also, Libby spending US$25 and 10 hours of her life downloading Marmaduke from ITunes during CBT. A talking dog, really?
Most memorable illness or injury: At National Camp Superman 2012, I came down with a really bad flu of sorts that caused me to have a high fever, the chills and diarrhea. I resisted the sickness for about half the day and being my camp counselor self, was trying to motivate the youth on “my team” to work together during a scavenger hunt. While motivating the children to participate, I pooped my pants. You never forget the first time you poop your pants. Especially if you are surrounded by 60 people when you do it.
Most Dominican habit you’ll take home with you: Brindaring and the finger wag. I can see myself sweeping and mopping barefoot every day as well. Also dominating in dominos (still hoping to beat Alanna someday).
Most beautiful place in country: The view of the beaches in Las Galeras while in a fishing boat at sunset surrounded by my four good friends and four attractive Dominican men.
Most creative way you killed time in your site: Time is too precious to kill, I prefer to enjoy my time. Walks to the monte with the ‘chachos to find fruit and then making enough jugo to quench the thirst of a small army (or all the youth in a batey). Learning how to make pan de batata, pan de maiz and dulce de everything. Perfecting the art of concón. Playing volleyball or softball with my girls all afternoon. Lots and lots of Dominos. Bolaing down to Monte Coca to chat with Timoteo about all the injustices that exist in the world (or more accurately, in the batey).
What Spanish word or phrase have you made up during your service and what does it mean?: I didn’t make one up (that I can think of) but I changed one. La Pajera from meaning, well you know what it means, to meaning someone who is very fun to have around and is awesome. Ya tu sabes, soy La Pajera.
How have you changed during your service? I want to live on a farm and grow all my own food, I enjoy dancing, I am more aware of the sketchiness of tigueres (and men in general), I am comfortable with being alone, I am less freaked out by death, I have learned how to be a community member, I am no longer afraid to fail, I am more comfortable with putting myself “out there”, I am a better friend to those I care about and my hair is shorter.
If your service were a book, what would its title be? Are you practicing abstinence or is abstinence practicing you? A 20 – something year old’s experience in the Peace Corps. (Credit to James Greenebaum)
What books did you read during your service that you’d like to recommend to other Volunteers?: The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsoliver; Sidhartha, Herman Hesse, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi, El Alquimista, Paulo Coehlo; The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera.
What are you glad you did here?: Top Ten: 1. New Years 2012, Caberete 2. 4th of July 2012, Las Galeras 3. Cumpleaños de Libby 2012, Pedernales 4. Hiked Pico Duarte 5. Learned how to dance bachata, mergengue and salsa with confidence 6. Let down my barriers and let people help me out 7. Meet some awesome individuals who will be my life long friends. 8. Hit up the salon on Sundays to get my hair blown out and my nails did. 9. Taught children how to read. 10. Lived in a Batey
What do you wish you had done here?: Built Latrines. Practiced Creole. Cooked (something other then boiled eggs and platanos madura). Let go of my insecurities. Ran in the half marathon. Kept a journal in Spanish. Started a boy’s sports team. Picked up my bike from the bike repair shop and rode around in the cane (it might still be at Aro y Pedal, para que sepa).
What will you miss six months from now?: Being a three dollar bus ride from a tropical beach and some of my best friends. Staying up until sunrise solving the world’s problems with Libby (or winning big on the Roulette tables, what ever the night has in store for us). Watching movie trailers with Zach. Sitting on a street corner in plastic chairs drinking beer from a plastic cup. Arriving to my site and being greeted by my community. Lucy, a little neighbor girl who has stolen my heart. The youth in my site. Dancing Bachata with my number one dance partner Dominic. Dominating in ultimate football during beach days. Beating all the muchachos in Dominos. Mangos. Avocados. The Dominican Republic.
What won’t you miss six months from now?: Creepy priopos. “Pero tu estas embarazada?”. “Dame…” People dying weekly in my site from preventable causes, especially little kids. Having to listen to my neighbors beat up each other and their children (causality of living in a barracone). Living in the barracones. The leaky roof I was too lazy to seal. Wadding through a mix of animal feces and mud every time it rains. The C route. San Pedro de Macoris
What’s next?: Daré una vuelta in the Pacific Northwest to visit mi gente, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in April and then graduate school to get my Masters in Social Work. Si dios quiere (and dios lo quiere).
Big plans for your readjustment allowance?: Clothes for while I am dando la vuelta por allá. I can’t very well pick up any hotties in the holey, ripped and cloro stained clothes I currently own. Paying for my PCT adventure and then using what’s left to actually ¨readjust¨ while I settle down for graduate school (hopefully in New Orleans, visitors welcome). If that doesn’t work, convincing Libby to travel to South America or South East Asia with me and seeing more of this amazing world.
Advice to a new Volunteer: Never leave your site with out at least three pairs of clean underwear, a good book and some money. You never know what is going to happen. You just might end up living in the Bella for a month. Kidding about the Bella. Kinda.