Thursday, January 31, 2013

From Moca to La Romana Part 3

During the course of my youth group, Rafael invited his boss, Jose Bencosme, to observe. It turns out, Jose is the kind of public servant who gets things done. He oversees the Indotel computer labs of an area encompassing five provinces and was eager to put me to work training his employees to multiply my efforts throughout the greater Moca area. When I finished up with my students at the high school, he was ready and waiting for me with more than 30 adult students, all in charge of computer labs.

View Encargados Reach in a larger map
Each point represent a computer lab where one or two my students worked

For 8 weeks, I taught a morning group of about 12 and an evening group of about 20 for four hours each every Saturday. Some came from as far away as Gaspar Hernandez on the north coast and Sabana Iglesia in the country’s interior. During the week I keep hours at the lab to provide technical support there and help people who came in to use the computers. I also ended up running around to various labs run by my students and helping them reformat hard drives and troubleshoot problems. It was a very busy time for me. I would typically visit a lab for three or four whole days, talking my student through the various steps of Windows installation, system cloning, and so on. After all was said and done I must have done this at least 10 labs.

My buddy Max Podemski came to visit. Seen here in the
Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración in Santiago

By the time Summer was coming to a close, I had taught an entire other group of 20 people at a public lab above the post office while simultaneously overhauling its 20 computers. The requests for one-on-one lab help were still rolling in and Jose Bencosme was bugging me to let him plan me a class in nearby Salcedo.

Monday, January 28, 2013

From Moca to La Romana Part 2

While things were falling apart with the scouts a and coming together at the library, I spent a lot of time networking with other volunteers and developing a secondary project to track Peace Corps volunteer history online. During spring 2012, a former volunteer named Derrick Lewis caught wind of me while describing his workplace’s data management needs to Nate Lohman, a friend of mine living near Punta Cana. I spoke with Derrick on the phone and it was clear that we were both very excited at the prospect of me going to La Romana to volunteer at Clinica de Familia La Romana. In my exasperation at my repeated lack of success in Moca, I told him I would move to La Romana, given the opportunity.

I pose with the family of one of my students in her father's finca

With the La Romana project far from certain, I proceeded in Moca as if I would be there until the end of my service. Together with Rafael, I planned and led a ten-week WordPress course for a group of adults at the library. One of my students, Yoryi Carvajal, was a teacher at the local high school. With his help, I formed a group of teenagers and led them in Encargados del Futuro a curriculum developed by Peace Corps volunteers in the DR the year before I arrived.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

From Moca to La Romana Part 1

When last I submitted an update from Moca, things were on the mend with the Scouts. I explained to Pablo that I would possibly get moved to another city and that I wanted to take measures so that something was retained of my efforts to update and maintain the computers at the scout lab. He called a meeting of the caminantes (the older scouts), and made a schedule for each of them to come for a couple of hour-long training sessions during the next two weeks in how to manage the lab.

Me and Joel, a member of the youth group I formed at the library

This campaign went well for a few days until, as usual, the scouts discovered they were only being held accountable to me and quit showing up. Since this was what I had come to expect, I simply stopped going to the scout lab and invested the balance of my time in the growing list of tech support requests being made by Indotel students.

An example of a home in the Moca neighborhood where I was originally placed

Indotel is the Instituto Dominicano de las Telecomunicaciones, a Dominican Institution, I first encountered on my volunteer visit almost two years ago when I was less than a month into my Peace Corps training. Indotel sets up computer labs all over the country, and as fate would have it, I met a very motivated administrator named Rafael who was running Indotel lab in the Moca municipal library.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hello 2013

It's been at least two months since I wrecked shop in Moca (surely, a whole other post unto itself) and moved on to bigger (and better?) things in La Romana. This time two weeks ago, I was I fresh off the plane in the apartment of the generous Brian and Kristy Humpheys. At the last minute, Mom planned me a trip home for the holidays.

The house I moved to in downtown Moca. My room is behind the upstairs window on the right.

My visit to Portland was a whirlwind of emotions. I think it's safe to say that it altered the course of my Peace Corps service. Before going home, I was all set to take an extra year to finish the project I began last November. Now I'm not so sure. It looks more like I'll be asking Peace Corps for an extra couple of months beyond my scheduled Close of Service (COS).

The inside of my room in Moca. If I wanted to cool off, all it did was open the door and the windows.

It goes without saying that for almost a year, I neglected you, fair readers. Part of the reason for this has been the effort required to take and prepare photos for each of my posts. Well, I tell you now, I managed to return from the United States without the cable I was using to charge my camera's battery. Thus, I will be forced to make do with what images can be found on its memory card until such time as the cable can be replaced. Keep an eye out for new posts detailing recent developments.