Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Dominican Republic is Simply Amazing!

By: Ioana Pescaru

Ioana has completed three years of her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish, French and Media and Communication at Newcastle University in Newcastle, Great Britain. She is one of three students participating in the 2012 pilot of the InteRDom Correspondent Program, and is participating in the 2012 10-week Caribbean Summer Program, with special dates beginning July 1. You can read more about Ioana and her participation in the Correspondent Program here.

Time in the Dominican capital flies extremely fast. There are so many attractive things to do and places to visit around the country that 10 weeks are just not enough. In this post I would like to talk about the activities that InteRDom has organized for us. There were various activities and I truly enjoyed all of them, as they represented an excellent way to get to know the Dominican culture, history and discover the beautiful exotic nature.

One activity consisted of a Theatre Night. We saw the play called “El Resbalón de Julieta” at the small, local and very cute theatre “Las Máscaras”, in La Zona Colonial. The show was in Spanish, so it gave us the opportunity to get familiarized with the specific Dominican Spanish and learn more slang and expressions. What was very touching and special was the fact that at the end of the play we had the chance to talk to the actors and take some pictures together that will always remind me of that authentic theatre.

The next activity was a trip to “El Sendero de Cacao,” a plantation of cocoa trees. Imagine that! This trip should be on the ”must see list” of each visitor to step on this part of Hispaniola island. The tour consisted of a walk around the plantation guided by one of the workers that explained every single step that has to be taken in order to obtain the cocoa powder and then the chocolate paste we all use for making cakes or prepare sweet drinks. Absolutely exciting! At the end of the tour we were explained and showed the process of making organic chocolate: black, white or with milk. We all received a little chocolate shape made in front of us, just for us. Isn’t it sweet? The “hacienda” also has a little shop were one can purchase little souvenirs, most of them chocolate flavoured. At the end we had lunch on the premises. I swear it was the best lunch I have ever had: local Dominican food, tasty and exotic. We were delighted to have as dessert a plate of seasonal fruit topped with melted chocolate. Yummy…! I would definitely go there again!!

The other activity was a visit to the Museum of Resistance, movie afternoon and lunch. This was another cultural activity that introduced us to the sad history of Trujillo’s era. I learned a lot about the tyranny that characterized the dictator and how things used to be back in time. The movie we saw “In the Time of the Butterflies” was the ideal way to continue the visit to the museum as it helped us making a clearer idea about the political situation imposed by Trujillo.

As I still have some time left to spend on this pretty island I am planning to travel and visit more, in order to accumulate as much information as it would be possible about the past and the present of this Dominican people and civilization.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A very memorable day for the gardening volunteers

By: Amber BrookmireAmber is a graduating senior at the City College of New York, majoring in Anthropology and Jewish Studies. She is participating in the 2012 CCNY-InteRDom Service Learning Program, and will serve as the InteRDom Correspondent in the CUNY system. To read more about Amber and her participation in the Correspondent program, see her profile here.

Week four has sadly come and gone for my stay in Santo Domingo. Our strong start this past week led us to reach our gardening goals and finish early! Tuesday was our last day working with the families that participated in the project. It was a very memorable day for all of the volunteers as we looked back on our experiences with the families of Cielo and Bayona this past month.

We celebrated the success of the project by gathering at a vegan restaurant to revisit some memorable moments through hilarious photos and stories. It was nice to spend our last night with the volunteers out of our normal gardening environment, yet it will be missed. Although it made us sad to leave, our circle of friends made it a wonderful despedida (goodbye party) for our CCNY group.

Our final presentations for InteRDom and the project took place in the Art Gallery of FUNGLODE. My co-intern HP and I discussed our observations and suggestions regarding inclusiveness in the project. Through various interviews and personal conversations, it became evident that our observations would need further evaluation after the project has developed for some time. Due to the short length of our stay and the scheduled days for gardening, some members of the family were not available at the time of installing the gardens. However that did not consequently mean they wouldn’t play an active role in sustaining the gardens.

As I reflect on the challenges and successes of my experiences from this project, I feel excited and motivated to continue. Despite my departure from this beautiful island, I am able to maintain communication with the friends I have made and stay updated on the progress of the gardens we created. I hope to apply what I have learned in my own life and encourage others to nurture their connection to nature and food. It is important to better understand what sustains our lives, and gardening has proven to be an exciting way to get hands-on with exploring food production. My family is already requesting that I help with a garden for them when I return!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Eight months of wonderful experiences.

By: Anna Groesser
Graduate and Gap Year 32-week Program, 2012You can read about Anna's internship with Grupo PUNTACANA on the InteRDom website here.

Well, the end of my eight month InteRDom internship (which was in Punta Cana) is near, and I cannot believe it! The experience was so wonderful- I had a great situation there and I felt fulfilled with all my responsibilities and tasks I had, plus my supportive and awesome supervisors Señor Beswick and Margarita. Now I am back in Santo Domingo at the InteRDom apartment, awaiting the final date, preparing for my post-internship job at a really nice private school and apartment-hunting as well. I will be staying in the country- my fiancée, who I met in Michigan over two years ago, is Dominican and we are planning to stay here. A lot of the Dominicans I’ve told are surprised that we aren’t returning to the U.S. But honestly, I do appreciate the positives of this country, the cool feeling that I am living so far from home and out of my comfort zone, and I am only mildly homesick. More importantly, both he and I have very good job situations here and plan to stay for at least the next four years. (I can’t help but think, by that point, my Spanish will be great!)

It was bittersweet to leave my temporary home in Punta Cana- saying goodbye to all the friends and acquaintances I made there- but the end of my internship there went as smoothly as it could possibly have gone. I received farewell gifts from my supervisors and also the Public Relations office (which I had helped often with translations, photos and website work)- fancy Oscar de la Renta perfume (he is one of the co-owners of the PUNTACANA Resort and Club) and a Caribbean beach resort-style sun hat that people commonly wear while outdoors. On my last day, I had lunch with some of the friends I had made. When I returned to the capital and to my room, I found the InteRDom apartments were full of other interns (whereas when I arrived in December, I was the only intern) and I have been able to make some good friendships in just a short period of time.

(One final note- though apparently July and August are supposed to be the hottest months of the year here… I arrived in December (the coldest time) and I honestly cannot feel a huge difference. It was hot then, and it is hot now! This is actually the biggest question I have received from people back home: “How hot is it down there?” and my answer really is that boring!)

All the best of luck to my fellow InteRDom interns, to Alicia & Mandy in New York and to Reyna & Melida here in Santo Domingo! Thanks for everything!