Monday, March 28, 2011

Volunteer Visit Part 3

Cassidy and Magee in front of the Salon Tecnologica

In the morning Magee and I left early in order to catch the one daily pickup that would take us to Cassidy's site. Luckily, we managed after a short while to catch a bola (free ride) with friends of hers in the bed of their pickup. For the next forty-five minutes, we climbed into the mountains, discussing how Peace Corps compared to our lives back home and what it was like to join. Meanwhile I drilled her about her living conditions and made a good deal of fuss over how authentic my experience was begining to feel and how incredible the views were.

Cassidy supervises a class during lab hours

Finally we reached Cassidy's school. I observed as group after group of excited children filed into the salon tecnologica (computer lab) for their turn to eagerly click away Encarta Encyclopedia, Alphabet Rain, and a kind of puzzle game with moving balls. Not long after joining a local familh for lunch, we welcomed a group the likes of which few see during their volunteer visit. About thirty high school students from Iowa and a handful of adult chaperones arrived in a guagua (minibus), led by Andrew, a volunteer from Puerto Plata.

Students from St. Albert High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa assemble while
Andrew and Cassidy (foreground, right) catch up.

After a brief interlude with the Americanos we were returned to the lab for Cassidy's afternoon session and, at the end, a lively youth discussion group called Escojo Mi Vida ("I Choose My Life") which many volunteers nationwide are using to encourage children to make healthy choices and steer clear of unprotected sex. This session focused on values and self-esteem. Cassidy performed admirably given the distinctly hormonal circumstances occaisionsed by 27 enthusiastic youths whose only prior exposure to the subject matter was sometimes in the context of admonishments about the potential ills of not pleasing your man or turning into a homosexual.
Escojo Mi Vida discussion group


  1. What a great program. Did the Peace Corps start it?

  2. Yeah, "Escojo" is a Peace Corps initiative. It's so needed here, too. There are lots of teenage pregnancies that I think could be avoided by encouraging youths to talk about relationships and think about their futures.