10/21/06: And Another
Update: added The Trash Situation
Update: more house photos
Ok, if I said the last month flew by, then October dissapeared scary fast. In a country without Halloween, the passage of time will have to suffice in scaring me out of my wits. And oh does it suffice.
In any case, I'm doing well. I'm not great and I'm not miserable. I'm trucking along riding the ups and downs so many returned and veteran volunteers have promised me would come along the way. Who says the learning process should be comfortable or easy? That reminds me, did you see my comfy new chair?
The dog that lives on my front porch was in heat this past week and her suitors (2-6 at any given time) made a good night's sleep impossible for all of us in this part of the barrio with endless growling and fighting. I'm understanding, though not appreciating, why nobody cares or claims responsibility for the female dogs here. Nobody is responsible for the inevitable puppies. Or I'm responsible, and I have a problem on my hands...
I'm heading to the capital next weekend to celebrate a graduation of teachers who have completed their compulsory computer education courses. I had been working with a few of them outside of the course itself and even confirmed that one was ready to graduate. While the teachers are now capable of using the computer as an educational tool, the real work is in getting them to apply it as just such a tool. More courses to come!
Do you think Verizon in the States are jerks? They just cut support for the Proyecto AVE, a group of 90 or so trailers in country, each complete with 10 computers, a gas generator, and a high speed Internet connection. They had initiated the project partnered with the Secretary of Education here, supposedly as a condition of their government contract which, among other things, waived all taxes the company would owe from here to kingdom come. And so why the heck would they cut support now? They're selling the company and cutting loose all the "extraneous" holdings to look lean and mean for buyers. Well, that might have been an exaggeration on my part, but they are selling the company, and quietly, so I will assume what I will. Now we have 90 computer centers in danger of closing and remaining utterly unutilized, one of which I have been using to give classes the past 4 months. This is what development is all about I guess: helping create community solutions to community problems. I would hate to see such great resources lay fallow. More on this in the next few months.
I wish the Dominicans could put Catholicism on hold for just one day. They could really use Halloween! It would be secular. I swear!
I have mice and termites.
To wrap up, things are going well. Lots of classes and small talk. My books-read list grows weekly in a proportional, linear relation with the darkness of my tan. The hurricane season ends soon (don't jinx it!). Skim Ice rules. I'll be in San Antonio and Chicago at the end of December, early January. Where are you guys at?? Talk to you all soon, David
09/22/06: A Month Goes By...
Update: Expanded Photo Collection
...And oh does it go by quickly. I'm paying my rent in two days and I realize a month has passed without a single entry here. Without making excuses (because who is keeping track anyway?), I've been busy and in my free time certain other occupations have taken my interest.
El trabajo me busca. The work finds me. Of course, I'm continually working here in Veragua with the committee and the laboratory. We're currently working out a plan in which we cover the lab's monthly costs by selling discounted lab time to students. But other (not so) secondary projects have been finding me these past 4 weeks. For example:
- Working with a recently formed committee at a high school very close to me
- Working with another non-profit to form a committee in an elementary school 20 minutes away
- Preparing a Photoshop course to give at a lab 3 hours away twice a month starting October (working with the First Lady's Office on that one!)
- Helping a local non-profit create course materials for an introductory computer course
- Giving an advanced computer course 4 days a week
- Maintaining a house without the familiar tools of the trade
- Cleaning the front and back yard and preparing the soil for planting
- Reading 4-5 books a month
So I'm staying busy, and that's a good thing I suppose. I'm getting to know the neighbors quite well, and I'm almost ashamed that my lunches and dinners are more than often provided by other families. It's not like I'm asking, but at the same time, cooking is such an ordeal here that it's not worth cooking for one.
All in all, it was a quick and busy month. I can see how veteran volunteers say that two years fly by. Hope all is well with you guys. Drop me a line sometime and I'll do my best to get back to you.
08/25/06: New House
Listening to: Whatever music I feel like!
Last night was the second night I slept in my own house, and how sweet a sleep it was. Well, it wasn't that sweet, but it wasn't bad either. The new mattress certainly didn't hurt the experience. I'm slowly buying the necessities for the house. I had forgotten how many things are necessary to play house. Especially in this case when the house was EMPTY upon moving in. I mean EMPTY. Nothing. Nada. Just lizards and a light bulb. Check out some pictures of the place here.
Renting a house in a foreign country is definitely a trip. In my opinion, this experiment, as much as living with a family if not moreso, is manditory to truly understand what it's like to live as a Dominican. I get water from a communal faucet in the yard which connects to a well using a small motor. We here are lucky in that there's "always" water, or so I've been told. I've come to enjoy the sound of heavy rain on a zinc roof. The latrine (yes, latrine) never fails to make me feel like a cowboy. The seat is a wood plank with a circular hole cut out.
All that being said, the place is quite comfortable. The mostly wood construction means the house stays considerably cooler during the day. That's a BIG plus. The neighbors are great too. While the house doesn't seem very secure, there are always neighbors at home to keep an eye out. The big dog (Flopi) keeps out other would be "ladrones".
I'm sure I'll be writing more about the housing experience in the future. It's a natural muse. In other news, school has started again, and my schedule has picked up as a result. I'm entering into my 3rd month with the web design class. The group is working on a project making a web site for a youth federation in town. I've also started an individual tutoring program for school teachers. The Secretary of Educacion has set a benchmark for computer experience for teachers, and I'm helping them reach that mark. It's interesting work, and inevitably leads to a home-cooked meal.
Projects are picking up. That's the main thing. And works seems to find you. In that way, I've somehow managed to pass 3 1/2 months here in Veragua and over 6 months in the country. I can hardly believe it.
How's everybody else doing?