Thursday, February 7, 2008

¿Cómo están?


I hope that you are all doing well back home in New Jersey. I've had a pretty busy week this week, and so I haven't had as much time as I would like to sit and think about what I wanted to write about here, but I've thought of a couple things.

One of the coolest things that I have been able to help out with here so far was to translate for hospital patients last Sunday. There is a team of doctors that comes down every year from Kansas to the Dominican Republic, and each time they come they do free surgeries for people who need them here. Because many Dominicans are poor, they would never get these surgeries if these doctors didn't come to give them for free. I helped out all day by translating for the doctors and the patients - the doctors speak English, and the patients all speak Spanish. It was really great to be able to help out in such a cool way. So, even if some days you don't feel like learning Spanish, I'm living proof that it can really help out and be very useful when you are a little older.

Now I can answer some of your questions!

Adrienne, I have one sister and one brother in the U.S. My sister goes to college in Alaska, and my brother is in 5th grade (like you!) in Minnesota.

Andrew, I wish I had some good jokes. If I think of any, I'll be sure to let you know. Do you have any good ones?

Jack, I watched the Super Bowl, and it was awesome. I'm a Vikings fan myself, but I was definitely rooting for Eli Manning and the Giants. I was pretty excited.

Rebecca, I remember the days of cold, snow, ice, and freezing rain in Minnesota. Fortunately for me, the weather here is great! Sometimes, because I live in the mountains, it gets to be a little cold at night (maybe it will drop down into the fifties). But, the rest of the time it was a comfortable 75 or 80 degrees. I haven't yet been here in the summer - it might be too hot to handle then!

Sean and Thomas, I like doing a lot of things in the D.R. One of my very favorite things to do is play dominoes with my friends in my little village. It seems like a really simple game, but it's really fun and I've gotten a lot better. I also like watching baseball on TV or listening to it on the radio. Sometimes I like to go to the beach, because it isn't that far from where I live. Above, I've posted a couple pictures from the beach - one is of a seal, and the other is of a whale! And, probably more than anything, I like spending time with my host family and just talking with them. Danielle, I only live with one host family. The other host family that I showed you was a family that I lived with during training - before I met the people I live with now.

Kimberly, I do a lot of things! My primary job is working with a foundation that helps the communities in the area. One of the things that I do is to help train guides who guide nature hikes. This is a small thing that they can do to help them make more money. I also do things like teach English and work with kids. A lot of kids down here don't have the opportunities to have fun and see the things that I did when I was younger - so part of our job is to try to find activities for them to do and to have fun! My job is great!

Well, that's it for now!


Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Peace Corps

Buenas Tardes!

I thought that I would take this opportunity to answer a couple more questions that the class had about Peace Corps. I was going to post some more pictures, but something happened with the Internet and it's not working correctly. But, I can always post pictures later!

I started applying for the Peace Corps in the Fall of 2006. After almost a whole year of the application process, I got my placement for the Dominican Republic in June. I left for the Dominican Republic in September of last year, and I will be here until November 2009! That's more than two full years!

Before I left, I already spoke Spanish pretty well. I lived in Ecuador for six months during my junior year of college, so I gained a lot of experience from that. As far as other training goes, we had two days of training in Washington D.C. before we flew to the Dominican Republic. But that's it! We arrived in the Dominican Republic and moved in with a host family the next day. After that, we had two months of training before we started our projects, but I've found out that the best way to learn is to just "dive in" to a culture and spend as much time as you can with the people who live there!

Now, my Spanish has gotten a lot better and I'm really enjoying my time here. I still make a lot of mistakes, but the best way to learn the language is to speak it often and to a lot of people.

That's all the time I have for now. I'm looking forward to receiving more of your questions!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Una Respuesta (An Answer)

Hola clase!

It was great to "meet" you last week. Thanks for sending your letter and the picture of all of you. Even if we can't meet face to face, it's cool to see who I am talking to!

I don't have very much time to write at this time, but I can definitely answer a couple of your questions.

Thomas, I don't have my own computer. And the little village that I live in doesn't have Internet access, even if I did have one. So, in order to use the Internet, I have to travel to the nearest big city, which isn't too far. I either go to an Internet café or use one of the computers in the little office that I sometimes work in (see picture below!).

Josh, my favorite local food is what people here call "la bandera dominicana" (The Dominican Flag). No, I don't actually eat a flag - "la bandera" is rice, beans, and meat (usually chicken). I'll be sure to take a picture of a typical lunch the next time I think of it. I'll post the picture next time!

Chris K., I have an Olympus camera. It's actually a little old and might not last the two years, but so far it's lasted me and has taken some pretty neat pictures. It's digital, which I like because I can take pictures and easily send them to my friends and family back home.

Sean and Danielle, I live in a cement block house. It's actually kind of a luxury, as many of the houses around here are made of wood and aren't as nice. It's a simple house, but it's very comfortable and I like living there. I posted a picture below in a different blog entry.

Chrissy, I just turned 23 years old in December. When I came to the Dominican Republic, I was still only 22. By the time I leave, I'll almost be 25!

That's all I have for now! Thanks again for your letter and the picture! Be sure to write me again soon and I'll put up another post.

Cuídense (Take Care)!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bienvenidos a la República Dominicana!


Welcome to the Dominican Republic!

My name is David, and I'll be your official tour guide for the following two years here in the D.R. I am currently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and I will be here in the Dominican Republic for two whole years!

Right now, I am writing to all of you from an Internet Cafe in a city near my house. I don't live in the city, however, I live in a rural area. Pretty much everybody around me farms for a living, which is certainly different from how I grew up. Do you all live in a city or in the country?

I haven't had too much time to write recently, because I've been very busy celebrating the holidays here with my host family. Back in Minnesota, I had friends that celebrated different holidays around this time of year - but in the Dominican Republic, almost everybody celebrates Christmas.

The biggest day of celebration is December 24th, what we know as Christmas Eve. Here, they call it "Noche Buena" - or "Good Night." It is pretty much a big party with the family, and everybody goes out dancing bachata and merengue (the two main dances here in the D.R.) until all hours of the night. It is a very festive time, and everybody is happy because they get to see all their relatives. In fact, there are many Dominicans who live in the United States who come back to see their families during this time of year.

The tradition in my family when I was growing up was to open up presents on Christmas Day. They don't do that here in the Dominican Republic. Presents get exchanged here on "El Día de los Reyes" (The Day of the Kings), which is the 6th of January. I'll be sure to tell you about that when that happens.

So, I've really enjoyed my holiday time here. It's a little hard to be far away from my family and friends in the United States, but my new host family here has taken me in and treat me like their own son!

I hope everybody back home enjoyed Winter Break! I need to go now, because the last "guagua" (which is the name that Dominicans use for buses, pickup trucks, cars...just about anything with four wheels!) leaves for my little "campo" (rural area) in a few minutes.

I'll talk to you all soon!


My Bedroom and My Neighborhood!

This is a photo of my bedroom (complete with mosquito net!) and another of my neighborhood. It's a little different from what I am used to back home in Minnesota, but I really like it.

My Brothers and Sisters!

The first picture is of my two host sisters that I live with right now. The older one is named Aldaverdi (she is seven years old), and the younger one is named Verilin (she is four). The second picture is of my two host brothers that I lived with in a different family. Jorge, who is thirteen, is holding Christopher, who is two!