Thoughts From the Circle

It’s about 2pm on Thursday, June 9th. I’m sipping on a Starbucks’ tall mocha while watching people walk to-and-from the Strawberry Festival on Indy’s Monument Circle. It’s been a lovely week,with great weather and nice time with my family and with Kate. It feels good to get up early and drive downtown to a clean city with tall buildings and monuments, just to later drive back up Meridian and enjoy the street of endless beautiful houses. I’ve been fishing and rock climbing. I’ve walked along the Monon, enjoying some of the fun things Broad Ripple has to offer. I’ve been out to eat, out to church, and soon to be “out” to Indy at this Saturday’s Pride festival. If you go, you will probably see me in the parade. That’s right, in the parade. 🙂 Tonight it’s to the movie to see X-Men, followed by a cookout at my parent’s house. Whip out the beer and ladder ball Johnathan, it’s time for yard games.

I thought I would run into someone I know while downtown or in Broad Ripple, but it hasn’t happened. A little disappointing, but meh. I’m sure I’ll run into people on Saturday.

As great as Indy has been this week, I must point out an observation.I’ve forgotten how overweight Hoosiers are, or Americans in general. Obesity in Hoosiers appears to be at alarming numbers; I wonder how we compare to the rest of the country. Let’s get healthy, Indy! Plant gardens at home, quit smoking, don’t eat crap fast food and processed foods, and get outside for some exercises. And recycle. And, if you feel real motivated, make a compost bin and then garden with that!

Dominican men and youth are generally not overweight but slim and muscular, and that’s not because they’re super poor and don’t eat a lot, because they do, more than me even. They’re outside a lot, they walk a lot. There are some men who get the “dad belly” and when it’s hot, they lift up their shirts over their bellies for a little bariga afuera time. Dominican women are usually fat, but not obese. They have large butts and are really curvy and it’s part of the culture to look that way. When you gain a little weight, they tell you that “you are a little fatter!” and it is meant as a compliment. It means you are looking good. I haven’t received that compliment too much, but my host brothers have given it to me a few times. Sweet guys.

Onto other thoughts…

Water. The fact that water comes straight to our homes and instantly turns hot or cold by turning a nozzle is just amazing. Those who have quick, easy access to water should realize how rich they are compared to the rest of the world. Granted, I have water at my house in the DR, but I’ve also lived with people who wait for the rain or water trucks to fill up their buckets. My host mother used to walk to the river to get water and wash her clothes just a few years ago. Unfortunately, cholera has been spread from Haiti to the DR, and I believe it’s now arrived to Bonao. So, not only do we Americans have quick access to water, we also get it clean… or clean enough. And that is amazing.

Thank you to EVERYONE who donated or promoted my project. I have received all my funds from the funds I raised and the grant I received from USAID. I did a local fundraiser in my community with the guys I work with. We did a peaje, where we made signs about the project and stood in the street, and when people drove by, we tightened a rope strung across the street to force people to stop, or at least slow down. It’s not as intrusive as I thought it’d be, and in fact, lots of people asked about our project and we received a ton of donations. We raised about 5,500 pesos and that money has been/will be used for logistics for the project such as phone cards and gas. My friend Meredith, the volunteer in Las Delicias just 15 minutes away, came out and helped with the fundraiser. Sin verguenza, she yelled at everyone who went by and I am grateful for her enthusiasm. We had fun. The guys made sure one of us was always in the street smiling because, according to them, it was our American smiles that got the donations. Haha, I took no offense.

Last week, we bought materials to build the foundation for the bleachers for the basketball court. Today, I was told that the guys are in Santiago buying equipment for our computer center as well as flood lights for the basketball court. Falcon Bridge will probably come out next week to install electricity, and we’re hoping that Indotel, the institute that build the computer center, will see the initiative we’ve taken and provide the rest of the materials we need. Even though prices are way higher now than they were back in November when we made the project budget, we still believe we can come out under budget with enough money left to buy or build playground equipment and tables and benches to give the area a park-like feel. Yaaay!

I decided not to teach the business plan course this year, but I am still helping with the national business plan competition. My friends Megan, Phil, and I will be leading our fellow business volunteers to a great 2011 competition. (And although it may be a little early to announce, I just might be this year’s emcee. What up.)

Also, summer camp is coming up at the Cigar Family school. We are getting 150 participants for a two-week camp focused on the environment. I can’t wait to talk about the importance of not throwing trash on the ground, which is a HUUUUGGGEEEEE problem in the DR. Huge huge huge huge huge.

Will post pictures next time when I’m back on my own computer. Take care everyone. I hope you’re having a great summer!

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