So, it’s coming to an end. And okay, I didn’t blog that much and I apologize; it’s one of the many things I wanted to do and just didn’t. It can be exhausting to sit and think, process and write, and try to put things in just the right words.
It’s been amazing. The best thing ever. I lived my job for two years, and my job was amazing. My life was simple and it didn’t matter at all that I didn’t have the luxuries I was previously afforded. I’m coming back with a summer tan, a few parasites, tons of pictures, the love of my Dominican family that I will carry in my heart everyday, and enough memories to fill a vast space.
These past couple weeks were crazy busy and I rocked them like a champ. (I DID say I work well under pressure.) The Construye Tus Sueños national business plan competition went great. I co-emceed the competition (in the Spanish!) and did pretty good, so I was told. I’m incredibly proud of all the youth who participated this year, and especially of the winners. I have faith they will be successful in their business ventures. The top 3 winners this year:
1) Easy Learning English Institute: A young man teaching English classes with an energetic, creative style will now have money for more resources such as books and desks to expand his classes.
2) JeanOscar Mantequilla de Mani: Two young men from the south make homemade peanut butter by hand. With their prize money, they can now afford an electric grinder which will increase their productivity from 20 jars a week to 50 a day.
3) El Mundo de Reparaciones: A young man from Yamasa has a small repair shop in his campo where anyone can bring a utility to be repaired.
Yay building dreams!
The big project at my site is about 90% finished. I’ve done my part, the community will take care of the rest. We built 7-level bleachers with two bathrooms and locker rooms, an electrical control room, and a garden. We installed 3 electrical poles and bought electrical equipment to provided lights and power to the computer center and basketball court. We repainted our community club house and basketball court and bleachers. We planted grass and flowers. We shoveled…. a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot. I have the blisters and back pain to prove it. The guys have told me that they are going to name the basketball court and bleachers area “Sarita” which means “Little Sarah,” a nickname that many people call me. They are going to paint the name on the court and bleachers. I painted a Peace Corps logo on the bleachers which can be seen below. All we need now are a few more electrical parts, and materials for the bathrooms such as doors and toilets. Expensive items, but presidential elections are coming up and when that happens, politicians make it rain. Money=votes, so throw some our way!
Yesterday was my last day with my community. I attended a women’s group meeting and they all cried and it was so sweet. They gave me a card with a nice message, and a bracelet and mugs with Dominican Republic written on them. At night, about 70 people gathered at the basketball court to play/watch a game and to partake in a traditional Dominican ginger tea made from ginger, leaves, water, and sugar. After that, I had a nice dinner with my host family made by my mom Maria, and then we ate brownies I made with Chulo. They requested I played my guitar, which was nice because they are easily impressed and entertained. This morning, I had several people come by to give their blessings, say thank you, and hug me goodbye. A couple people even cried over saying goodbye to Ani.
I haven’t said goodbye entirely just yet. Tomorrow I will hug my best friend for the last time in a long time. My friendship with Chulo has been the most amazing gift of my two years of service here, and I feel so thankful to have received his love and friendship. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
Along with Chulo, there is my host mother Maria, a beautiful Dominican woman whom I admire for supporting and sacrificing for her family; Ambar, my best little Dominican muchacha who has already gotten into my backpack and my dog cage to show me she can fit so that I can take her home to Nueva York; Wendy, my original project partner and friend who loved and helped me when I needed it, giving me mountains of food every time I came over even though her poverty has her in a home with no floors.
Amor a todos…
Y Ahora, And Now:
It will be strange to go from managing a $10,000 project and planning national business conferences to probably working at some office job being managed by someone I could probably manage. I haven’t looked too much into a job because I’ve been so busy, and really for now I just need anything to keep me afloat until graduate school next August. I’m spending my first month at home submitting grad school applications, finding a job, cleaning out my room, and moving into a new apartment.
As far as all the ways I’ve changed and what I’ve learned and what it meant etc.etc.etc., maybe I’ll write that in a post-Peace Corps update. Too much for now.
Here are some pictures! Thank you to everyone who supported the project. A special thanks to the following:
Berkeley Preparatory School
New Palestine High School
La Tabacalera Fuente
Francis Estil Mejia
Peace Corps DR
And to all of those who donated financially to my project. Que Dios les bendiga y les cuide. Gracias por su apoyo.