|Me and the other Education Volunteers lookin' spiffy at our Swear-In Ceremony|
So what have I been doing for the past two weeks in Samaná? Making observations. This is what I have found out:
- People here are super friendly and welcoming!
- I have been walking around my community quite a bit and everyone always says hello. Whenever I stop by a house I am always invited to sit down and chat. Often I am offered food or given food as I walk by a house.
- So far people have given me papaya, mangos, pears, bread, fried chicken, and a plate set. The last one was part of a Mother's Day event, even though I am not a mom I will be working with the community's kids so they felt I deserved a gift.
- Living without running water isn't the hardest thing in the world.
- Taking cold bucket baths in the cool mountain air is the hardest. Hence, I have started exercising every evening. I now have a group of four girls who exercise with me. One of the girls everyone calls gorda (fat) so I hope exercising will get people to stop harassing her and boost her self-esteem. Side note - running up mountains is hard!
- I have been to at least 7 meetings in the past two weeks and none of them started on time. I even caught one of my project partners telling someone that a meeting started half an hour earlier than it was scheduled. When I corrected the time she said, "Susan, you know how Dominicans are with meetings!"
- I went to school one day when it was raining and there were less than 50% of the kids at school. As a result, school was in session for only an hour and then everyone went home.
- I waited an hour for a meeting to start with other members of the community but because it was raining not enough people came and the meeting was eventually cancelled.
|Aetobatus Narinari aka Chucho aka Spotted Eagle Ray|
- I have seen a ton of different lizards, some sizable spiders, and a sting ray just to name a few of the creatures I have spotted.
- The school is in need of a lot of help.
- There are no reading books, and sometimes not enough textbooks for all students. There are no English textbooks, and the teachers do not know English well enough to teach their students effectively.
- The seats and desks are falling apart and like the textbooks there sometimes are not enough to go around. Some seats are made out of cardboard, others just have the bars.
- Teachers sometimes spend half an hour on one or two problems.
- All the teachers welcomed me into their classroom and acknowledged the limitations of the school. They want the school to be better and sometimes get used materials from other schools.
- Students asked me to teach them English. I now have a class on Saturday mornings. How many 9-15 year old American kids do you know would be willing to walk more than .5 miles to have Spanish class on the weekend?
- The students love to read. I bring books (lovingly donated by the Peace Corps librarian) to the school everyday for the kids to read. There have been a few occasions where I have had to break-up fights over the books. Again how often would that happen Stateside?
- Aside from my English skills there is a lot of stuff I know and take for granted that I can use to help my community. For example, my host sisters asked me to teach them how to use a computer. They don't know what Google is. Also, the members of my community's library committee have never been inside a library. That means they don't know what are typical library rules, how books are arranged, etc.