So...What exactly is the Peace Corps?
The Peace Corps is a government program that sends Americans young and old abroad to achieve the following three goals: provide technical assistance; help people outside the
United States to understand American culture; and help Americans to
understand the cultures of other countries. The Peace Corps was championed by President John F. Kennedy, and has been in existence for over 50 years with over 200,000 volunteers serving during this period of time. Learn more here.
Now that I know what Peace Corps is, why are you there?
On my first trip abroad I went to India, at the age of 11. The extreme poverty I witnessed, especially that of children, made me what to do something to help eliminate poverty. Since then I have come to believe that education is essential to lifting a person/community out of poverty. (Greater levels of education have been shown to correlate with better health and greater earnings.) I now have the opportunity to directly help those in need attain the education they deserve.
What are you doing?
I am a Primary Literacy
Promoter, which means I work with teachers and community groups to help improve literacy rates of Dominicans. This is important because children who have not yet learned to read and write effectively are more likely to repeat grades and/or drop-out of school. --Just to clarify I am working in improving Spanish language literacy, the native language of Dominicans, NOT English literacy.
How long will you be gone?
I will be in the Dominican Republic for 27 months: three months of in-country training followed by two years of service. But don't worry I do get vacations, and I am allowed to visit the States!
How much do you get paid?
I receive a monthly stipend in pesos (the Dominican currency) equivalent to $350 for my living expenses. It is enough money for me to rent a house, buy groceries, care for my pets, and travel a bit. Also, almost any medical procedure I could need is covered by Peace Corps.
Where in the Dominican Republic do you live?
I currently live in a rural community in Samaná, the peninsula of the island. When I arrived in the D.R. I lived in Santo Domingo, the capital, for three weeks and I then lived in a town for six weeks of field training. In both places I lived with host-families and worked with other trainees. I did not find out I would be living in Samaná until the end of my three months of training. For Harry Potter fans: Think of it like an incredibly long session with the sorting hat.