Saturday, June 28, 2008

First entry of many...

I have been sending mass emails to about a hundred family and friends for the first nine months that I have been in country, but I finally broke down and made a blog. I have been checking in on other volunteer blogs periodically and was pretty impressed. So now I have one!

Just in case a new reader comes along, or maybe just a refresh for everyone: I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic and I have been living in my small village along a river for six months now. My job is "bring water" to these people and improve their basic hygiene . So far I have made a community map, completed a house-by-house census, formed and organized a "Water Committee", completed the technical study portion of the water pipeline I hope to construct with the community, and have sent out numerous grant applications and requests for donations. We haven't had extremely good luck with these grants, and are still waiting for money so we can begin with the construction. I have also received donations and built two VIP pit latrines which replaced the most unsanitary of latrines in my village.

Right now I am back in the United States preparing to return tomorrow back to the land of humidity and batchata. My sister was married last weekend and I was a groomsman in the wedding. I was granted leave for two weeks and itt was an amazing time. I most definitely took advantage of all the amazing food! As weird as it sounds though, I really do miss yuca and fried salami. I guess I am becoming a little Dominican.

I also spent a lot of time in the US driving around and listening to Reggaeton or pretty much any Spanish radio station. I definitely miss Spanish. I definitely miss the heat that I was so eager and excited to leave for a couple weeks. And most of all, I miss the people. My community is full of MY people. I am there to try and help them develop a little over the next two years, but they have made it extremely clear that they are there for me for the rest of my life. I knew that they were being serious, but their promises became a little more real when I was eating pizza at Sally's Apizza (est. 1938-best pizza in America) last week and I received a phone call from Chulo, the manager of my village general store, and quite arguably one of my best friends there. Chulo is around fifty years old but was so excited to get in touch with me and then pass me around to the village carpenter and then my host-Dad from the first three months when I was living with my host-family. All of these men I talked to were at least fifteen years older than me, but it was obvious that they were now my friends. And knowing that they were paying dearly with what little money they had for the phone call, I was not surprised when the call abruptly ended in the middle of a sentence from host-Dad. Their phone card had run out of money. That was when it hit me that they were spending good money just to check in on their "voluntario" in the US, and I was humbled.

As much as I love the United States and my family and friends, the DR is where I need to be right now, and I am excited to head back. I am making another family, in Spanish, and I can't wait to see them all again. I am starting this blog after a lot of the rough times in the Peace Corps where I questioned why I was there and what real good I could do. Therefore, this blog might not give a completely accurate narrative of a full term of service, but it will definitely describe what Peace Corps life can bring if you just stick it out through those first couple difficult months of service.

Enjoy!

3 comments:

lily said...

yo america,
your blog and your house both look very nice. i like the pizza story and hope you like your new chacos. i'm learning how to ordeƱar. we gotta go hiking. see ya around
-lily

benslein said...

Rob,
I believe you should give more information about Sally's pizza. Here's a great link for those unfamilar with its greatness... http://pizzatherapy.com/sally's.htm
I'm bored here wishing I was in the DR so I figured least I could do was comment on your blog.
-Bryan

Newman039 said...

love the pizza shout out ... And maybe ensleins reply even more. Great seeing you in boston man. Can't believe you got up and actually made it home. Hope you and russ are having a blast and staying alive. Wish I coulda joined ya