Welcome to my wonderful blog:) I have no clue how much access to the internet I would have once I leave for the DR so I decided to set up a blog before I left. Many of you have asked that I keep you updated on my adventure so I thought that this would be the most practical way to include everyone. I'm not sure how life will be for me in a few weeks and I know lots of you are as curious as I am so I'll try to share the idea I seem to have of what life will soon be like for me:)
OVERVIEW OF MY NEW JOB:
Well, as many of you may know, it has sure been a process to get to this point! I began my application to the PC last October and am still trying to get paperwork done before I head off to the Caribbean. Man, did I luck out with my placement by the way!! I am SOOOOO happy to be going somewhere warm!!! BUT- I am NOT so happy about the large spiders I keep reading about... the large spiders that CHASE THEIR PREY!! AHHH!!!
I received my letter of invitation the 2nd week of July and thats when I found out I would be leaving August 19th. I already had an idea that I would be heading off in August so it wasn't too much to handle. Turns out they would like me to be a Community Health Extentionist in a program called Healthy Communities. There are 3 primary goals of this program which are : (1) Educating young people to make healthy decisions ie- practicing safe sex/abstinence and preventing HIV/AIDS transmission (2) Improving mothers' nutritional practices among children under 5 years of age (3) Improving reproductive health practices among women living in small rural villages. There are also a lot of other tasks I may have such as: training community leaders, organizing youth groups, monitoring evaluation projects, constructing sanitary latrines (awesome, I know), teaching English... LOTS of options.
So, I leave the 19th of Aug for three days of orientation- also called staging- in Miami (Woo whooo!!) and then I leave for the DR. Keep in mind please that the DR is only a 5-6 hour plane ride from Chicago and it IS in the Caribbean so it would be WONDERFUL to visit me:) Plus there are a lot of resorts to stay in!! And as Rachael so lovingly pointed out, I may not have access to hot/running water so I'll need to do a good "scrub down" at a nice resort:) Make sure to let me know a while in advance though so I can make arrangements for a nice, hot show-... er, I mean- see you..:)
Once I arrive in country I begin Pre Service Training. PST lasts for 10 weeks during which I will be in Santo Domingo- the country capital. I stay with a host family during those 10 weeks and then I get to go to my site- the place where I will be for the next 2 years. I have no clue where that will be. Sure the DR is an island but it can still take a whole day to get from some sites to the capitol. I could be near a beach or up on the side of a mountain- who knows?! I really hope I can be near some nice fresh water to swim in since I may not have water but I think I'll adjust to whatever- hopefully.
Once I'm at my site I am required to live with another host family for at least 3 months. After that I can try to find my own housing which I guess isn't too easy. Many volunteers stay with their families longer than 3 months because it takes a lot of time to get things done in the DR.
Let me start this by giving you all my future address:
Betsy Spencer, PCV
Cuerpo de Paz
Avenida Bolivar 451, Gazcue
Cuerpo de Paz
Avenida Bolivar 451, Gazcue
I believe I will be able to receive mail at this address the whole 27 months but if it changes I'll be sure to post it when possible. When I move to my site after the first 10 weeks I should still have access to this however often.
If you would like to send me anything keep in mind that it takes a lot longer for mail to get to me in the DR than it would for mail to get to me somewhere with a more reliable mail system. That said, the Peace Corps recommends that if you are going to send letters often then it would be a good idea to number/date them. That way I know if I'm reading one and am totally confused it's because a middle letter didn't find it's way to me and that I haven't lost my mind- yet.
The PC also said that its a good idea to send stuff in a padded envelope because it is less likely to be gone through and also because boxes are more heavily taxed. Also, any postcards should be sent in an envelope so they don't end up on a post office wall. And, by the way, I have a feeling I am going to be VERY homesick so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send me letters with pictures!!
Thats all I can think of for now. If I think of anything else important I'll be sure to post it but I feel kind of dorky for writing blogs before I'm even gone!! Thanks so much everyone for your interest. I'll try to keep this updated:)